Time flies. In the blink of an eye, the year 2013 is fast coming to an end. There have been a few incidents from work and daily interactions that got me thinking. With Singapore becoming a global city, Singaporeans are experiencing greater competition in our Little Red Dot. Navigating and surviving well in our corporate work environment is getting tougher and tougher by the day. Here are my Top 10 Career Resolutions for Professionals, Managers, Executives and Business Owners for 2014.
1. Keep Up The Good Work
Whether you like it or not, work is part and parcel of our life. We all work to pay the bills hence it is critical to know your work well and keep a close eye on your key performance indicators as they determine your bonus (or profits for Business Owners).
As the majority of Singaporeans strives to climb the corporate ladder, it is in our nature to want to perform well and not make mistakes at work. This mentality has played a big part in making Singaporeans one of the most hardworking workforces in the world.
If you think the same way, keep up the great work and stay on high alert for the next best project or opportunity coming your way in 2014.
2. Develop Your 2nd Skill
The second-skilling concept is something that I hold really close to my heart. It basically means developing an additional skill that in time can double up as a source of income to cope with unforeseen circumstances such as retrenchment and unemployment.
I got to know full time professionals who enjoy passive income out of cake-baking, fish-rearing, recreational singing to managing online blogs and blog shops.
Singaporeans can often be too obsessed with their day job. If you have been aggressively climbing the corporate ladder all these while, 2014 is perhaps a good time to take a step back and explore opportunities to develop and grow your second skill.
In today’s volatile environment, you will never know when the axe is going to drop. You will not want to be left stranded without an alternate source of income when that happens.
3. Know Your Rights & Get Yourself Unionised
In recent years, the union has also seen an increasing number of local PMEs being retrenched or tormented by work-related issues such as unfair termination or workplace discrimination.
Some unions currently offer PMEs limited representation in four areas - negotiations for retrenchment benefits, breach of employment contracts, appeals against wrongful dismissal, and victimisation.
Regardless of all the above efforts put in by our local unions, the toughest part of the equation is actually our own PMEs. Few are aware of the assistance and protection that can be possibly rendered by our union. Even if they are aware, they are not fully convinced of the union's power to represent them in the event of retrenchment and unfair treatment at work.
This is a chicken & egg game. For the union to exert a strong influence and negotiating power at the table vs employers, there has to be a substantial number of its PME union members.
With so much competition from foreign talents, local PMES should take the first step to get themselves unionized in 2014, make the effort to understand their workplace rights (check thesestories out) and take note of the appropriate platforms to go to.
4. Hone Your Office Survival Skills
My recent post on Zhen Huan (后宫甄嬛传) Survival Tips For The Modern Workplace was very well received by Singaporean and Malaysian readers. Although the palace setting of the popular Zhen Huan Biography aka Empresses In The Palace (后宫甄嬛传) seem quite a distance from today's office set up, they are very much a naked reflection of the modern workplace environment.
When Zhen Huan got selected to join the palace harem as Emperor Yongzheng's concubine, her innocence then was similar to a fresh graduate starting on his or her first job. Gradually, she soon grew to realises how harsh and cruel the palace truly is, and learns to survive on her own.
The rules of survival she learned along the way are still very much grounded in today Asian workplace. Are you well versed in the art of survival yet?
5. You Better Start Getting Social
With over 200 million users, LinkedIn presents an amazing opportunity for networking and managing professional relationships. If you do not have a LinkedIn professional profile, it is time to get one set up for 2014!
LinkedIn serves as a “virtual rolodex” that you can reference back every now and then to be reminded of who you know. It’s valuable to keep track of all the people you meet because you never know where someone will be or where you will be. Just because there’s not an opportunity to work together now, doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future.
While you are busy adding contacts, you should also take note that quality of contact is a more important than quantity when it comes to measuring the strength of your LinkedIn network. I discourage against adding people you don’t know. It looks good to have over 500 connections, but after 500, the value of additional contacts starts to diminish.
6. Ready To Be Your Own Boss?
In recent years, more and more Singaporeans have decided to abandon the old traditional Singapore dream of working for an employer and climbing the corporate ladder. These folks have the desire to have a more flexible work schedule and of course enjoy the thrill of being their own boss.
While we applaud and encourage their entrepreneurial spirit, we should also be mindful that they also represent a fast growing group of vulnerable professionals. In Labour MP Mr Ang Hin Kee’s recent Budget Speech in March 2013, he highlighted to the government the concerns of freelancers and how more support should be given to them.
Labour Movement is actively exploring how the interests of freelance professionals can be better looked after. NTUC has already forged ahead to equip freelancers with knowledge of their rights and obligations through their e-pocket booklet, legal clinics, Workplace Advisory app and U-dialogue business workshops.
In one recent example, freelance tour guides (facing competition from illegal foreign tour guides) were given more protection for jobs and compensation when Ms Cham Hui Fong (Assistant Secretary-General of NTUC) launched a chapter for collective bargaining for them.
7. Be More Appreciative Of Every Job, Every Worker.
Are you guilty of jobism – which is looking down on other jobs? Do you think the problems faced by jobs lower down the career ladder are not our business?
There seem to be a sad situation in Singapore where more concerns are being placed on profitability rather than the welfare of the employees.
Some employers’ mindsets are still stuck in the past where jobs are just a means to an end, where employees are consumables and treated like statistics. Some middle managers are torn between the views of the board and that of the workers and hence are unable to make effective decisions.
Some of us who cheap-source our outsourced work to the lowest bidder have simply chosen to also outsource our social responsibility of low wage workers to the contractors, who may have difficulty paying them more because of the low profit margins.
Let’s have more heart and best-source based not simply on cost, but also on how your vendor treats their workers, including whether they have a Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for each worker (which will see his wage increase according to his work productivity, skills and career ladder), and follow National Wages Council annual recommendations to pay low wage workers more.
Low wage workers also have dreams of getting a better pay, a better job and a better life to spend with their families.
The next time you see a low wage worker slogging long hours for low pay doing a backbreaking job, take a few moments to consider if you had in any way contributed to his plight (even indirectly).
8. Take Care Of Our Less Privileged
It is human nature to pay more attention to those above us who can help in our career, such as the CEO, high-flying client or even our managers.
But sometimes the route to a better career can also be enhanced by learning and listening to the people who are below your career position, those who cannot directly affect your bonus or promotion, but who can tell you real views from the ground.
It also should be in our human nature to be compassionate, appreciative and nurturing to our subordinates and fellow colleagues.
For example, you can take the lead to do something special for your office cleaners or security guards such as giving them small gifts or flowers or just a thank you to show your appreciation for the great work that they have done!
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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See Wee Heng is a Social Media & Digital Marketer with experience in B2B + B2C Marketing & Branding. He shares his experiences as an Avid Foodie, Curious Traveller & Social Media Enthusiast on his blog: www.AspirantSG.com and interacts with over 22,000 followers daily on twitter via the handle @AspirantSG.