In the course of the week, I went to a supermarket which, about three years ago, bubbled with beautiful smiles and long queues at this time of the year.
Usually, by this time of the year, people who wanted to avoid the Christmas shopping rush were already doing their shopping for non-perishable items like baking flour. But this year when I went to the supermarket, an air of uncertainty filled shelves and faces of workers.
The cashiers were positioned at the counters but lo! There were no customers to serve. The cheerful smiles were gone.
"We are not sure of our tomorrow here," whispered a female cashier as she processed my goods for payment. "If we have no customers as we used to, we will certainly have no jobs in coming weeks," she said.
Her concern reflects what many other employed Kenyans are feeling right now. The economy is battered. Bonuses and other benefits that came at the end of the year have been cut in the past few years by many companies citing poor business returns.
What do you do with the volatile situation where you are unsure of having a job next week or next year? How prepared are you in case of sudden loss of your job?
If anything, we all wish for good tidings as the year ends such as the promise of promotion in the New Year. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, instead of a salary raise letter, you get that cold letter in a white envelope thanking you for your services and regretting that the company has to let you go.
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For this turn of events – which can happen to anyone under the sun – you must be psychologically, mentally, physically and financially prepared.
The psychological readiness is the most important part in dealing with this shock. I have seen some people who lose their minds when the job is over. The poor economic situation in the country must prepare you for any eventuality.
When you see your company downsizing or asking people to take up voluntary retirement offers or employing fresh graduates whom they pay a fraction of what you earn, know it is a matter of time before you are eased out. With this knowledge at the back of your mind, the fall will not be a thud. You will be unconsciously preparing for parting of ways with your employer.
But if you delude yourself that you are indispensable, you will be hurt so much by the sack it will take you a long time before you find your footing again. A job defines many people.
"I am so and so and I work with the Central Bank," introductions are normally incomplete without the name of your employer. People fear this loss of identity.
To be financially ready for that moment when you have no job, there are options, several of which we have looked at in this column over many months. For everyone who is employed or is in business, it is a fact you set out knowing that you must have a savings arsenal that can cushion you for at least six months as you transit from loss of one job and getting into another.
To achieve this, you have to be a serious saver. Join saving schemes such as Saccos, chama and banks that offer good interest on your money. This calls for prudent and realistic living. This means you cut on practices that border on extravagance. You cannot afford to bury your head in the sand when the signs of a poor economy are all over the place. Your duty is to selfishly guard yourself from becoming destitute after having a good job.
Physical and mental fitness are crucial during the time you are in the cold. It is defeatist to take loss of job as a personal assault on your capabilities. Encourage yourself to keep on your feet throughout. Tap into your other skills.
Good at art? Why not revive this talent and make some money from it as you look for another job?