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Your job is the safest investment you can make

Property prices are tricky. Share portfolios are not to be trusted. Starting a business right now is not for the fainthearted. The one thing you can rely on today is your steady paycheck. Provided you look after and nurture your job.
Your job is the safest investment you can makeWhile South Africa remains better off than many other countries, the stats from Grant Thornton's Employment Growth Index (EGI) for 2009 shows that employment growth in South Africa is declining.

A sector analysis revealed that 23% of retail and 22% of manufacturing sectors decreased employee numbers last year. While another 25% of retail and 13% of manufacturing sectors increased employee numbers. As did 37% of construction and 40% of the services sectors.

The overall good news is the EGI also found that 29% of SA businesses intended to increase their staff complement in the next 12 months.

Why look after your job?
Not too long ago, people enjoyed perceived wealth as the value of their properties more than doubled. The money the typical family had in the stock market soared from 28% in 1989 to 53% in 2007. And globally the percentage of families invested in the market increased from 32% to 51%.

Houses and stocks were the things we paid attention to, the things that gave us the confidence, and so the percentage of income we saved was drastically reduced, while our debt increased thanks to easy to obtain HP, credit cards and other debt. All these factors contributed to our spending money we didn't have because we felt — and technically were — richer as a result of our assets.

All this while we blissfully ignored that old-fashioned concept, economists call “human capital”. Now is the time to rediscover your job, to nurture and invest in it, as it's the most valuable asset you have.

What's this got to do with marketing?
People are important assets for service industries, such as advertising and marketing and both employees and employers should be making a concerted effort to nurture the following concepts related to human capital.

        1. Become a brand-centric™ employee
Your education and training is worth something. While you can attribute value to your homes and share portfolios, in today's economic milieu these are not as reliable as they were in the past decade. Today's employees can depend on the value of their jobs. The income you earn from working is more reliable than the stream of interest income you might get from your portfolios.

Gary Becker, the Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economist says, “In a modern industrialised economy, 75% to 80% of a person's economic output comes from human capital (as opposed to land). During the bubble years, people became mesmerised by how rich they were, and didn't realise the crucial asset they had in their earning power."

As you start to realise that your job may be your only real source of financial stability you may want to take a brand-centric™ view of yourself as an asset to your employee. This means building brand-you, and here are some basic tips:
  • Think of yourself as a brand
  • Identify your unique attributes of value to your employee and consistently communicate them
  • Be proactive and do more than is expected of you
  • Do more than upgrade your knowledge and skills but revolutionise yourself
  • Make yourself indispensable
  • Become loyal to your employer
  • Add value wherever you can
  • Stay on top new technology
  • Stay ahead of the trends in your industry
  • Share your knowledge with leaders in your organisation
  • Think of your job as an asset and invest in it.

        2. Become a brand-centric™ employer
As more employees return to traditional work ethics, the employer has never been in a better position to enhance their labour force. An excellent team, after all, will have positive financial implications. For these reasons, the experts recommend that employers take a brand-centric™ approach to enhancing their employer brand to enjoy the following benefits:
  • Make it easier to attract the best talent
  • Reduce the cost of retaining the best talent
  • Increase your retention rate for valued staff
  • Improve engagement with your organisations goals and strategy
  • Significantly enhance your business performance and profits.

What follows are some suggestions to taking a brand-centric™ approach to enhancing your employer brand, and creating the perception that your organisation is a “great place to work” in the minds of current employees, stakeholders and the greater labour force out there.
  • Communicate the emotive benefits of being a part of your team and how good it feels good to be working there
  • Continually affirm the rational benefits that your organisation cares about your employees' career development
  • Communicate the opportunities for growth
  • Make use of PR to publicise new members joining your team
  • Communicate the investment your organisation makes to skills development
  • Ensure you invest in regular staff get-togethers and activities
  • Remember the mantra - those who play together stay together
  • Reflect your mission in the actions and behaviours of leaders
  • Revise company policies, procedures and practices to be a brand-centric™ employer
  • Manage the awareness and perceptions of employees, potential employees, and related stakeholders
  • Continually communicate the benefits of being employed to employees.

To conclude
As individuals, we have to turn our attention back to work and start doting on our jobs as much as we did on our properties and portfolios in the last decade. As more people start doing this, the more competitive the workplace will become. For this reason Gullan&Gullan suggests you take a brand-centric™ approach to your positioning as an employer.

At the same time, employees should be brand-centricTM about their employer brands. Excellent talent is supported by the resource-based view that being in possession of resources that are rare, valuable, non-substitutable and difficult to imitate, create the competitive advantage for your company. Through the creation of a valuable employer brand, you can attain the competitive advantage.

2 Apr 2009 13:55


About the author

Michael Gullan is the Managing Director and founder of Gullan&Gullan Advertising (Pty) Ltd. He has more than two decades experience at creating value for brands on client accounts from food and beverage, to cosmetics, mail order, medical, publishing and financial services. Gullan&Gullan's propriety brand-centric™ methodology forms the basis of every communication service Gullan&Gullan offer their clients, ensuring that the brand's core values are expressed in a congruent, consistent manner at every touch point. www.gullanandgullan.com, , 011 887 6591.