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Will the Chinese Slowdown Affect Your Job?


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China, the second largest economy in the world, is in the throes of economic turmoil. And businesses across the globe are worried. For over two decades China has powered world economic growth, both as a market for consumer goods and as a low cost manufacturer for industry. But with growth in China apparently shuddering to a halt, the fragile global economic recovery is under threat.

So how might this affect your job? Unless you work in a company that directly engages with China, the chances are, probably not at all. But what if the Chinese slowdown impacts the wider economy? The odds are still against it, but we could just enter another recession similar to banking crisis of 2008. What might happen to your job then, and what can you do about it now?

It will probably help to look at what happened in 2008 as a comparison. Surprisingly, that recession was not marked by the huge rise in redundancies that everyone expected. Sure, there were many redundancies, and it was a difficult time for many of us. But we did see constructive responses from many employers. Rather than making people redundant, many companies kept staff on but reduced their hours. Or encouraged them to take sabbaticals, with the promise that their job would still be open when they came back.

This wasn’t just a compassionate response by employers- although emotion clearly did come into it. The main reason that they avoided creating redundancies, as much as possible, was that they had discovered in previous recessions just how much it costs to lose well trained, loyal staff, and then to replace them with different people a few years later when trading conditions recovered. Far better, if at all possible, to recognise the value of the people they already had, and to do as much as possible to keep them on.

Employers today are far more aware of the value of the individuals who work for them than in previous generations. We see this in the investment they make in training and personal development. Old fashioned employers regarded their staff as commodities. Good employers today see them as assets.

But of course this works two ways. If your employer considers you an asset then you need to meet their expectations. There is no immediate evidence that the present Chinese crisis means that we are entering yet another period of economic slowdown. But the possibility is there, and when it comes to protecting your job, it is a possibility that you can’t afford to overlook.

So how do you meet your employer’s expectations, and reinforce their view of you as an asset? Clearly, you need to perform as well as expected, if not better. Do your best to meet and exceed your targets, show that you are an engaged and committed team player, be a supportive and trusted colleague. But more than that, you need to connect emotionally with your company. Instead of seeing your job, as many of us do, as a necessary evil, try to see it as a positive element of your life, something which adds value to your life, rather than detracting from it. And show that you see it as such. Care about your company, as much as your boss and its owners do!

Of course, this is easier said than done, many of us are in the wrong jobs and are desperate to change. But even so, however unsuitable the job may be for you in the long run, there are bound to be some positive things about it, for you to hold onto in the short term at least until your company’s economic future looks rosier. Unless you believe that redundancy is a better option for you than staying in your job (in which case you should have taken action long ago), it is important to focus on its positive aspects. If your employer sees you as an asset, that is a vote of confidence in you. Live up to it. Demonstrate your worth, in your performance, your attitude, your relationships and your personal engagement. And hopefully this latest economic firestorm will soon pass.