Have you heard about the ongoing retrenchments? If you work for a large multinational company with operations in Kenya, it’s likely you’ve seen the unfortunate trend of redundancy and mass layoffs that have cast a dark shadow on even the longest running international firms. Eveready, a battery company whose “paka powa” adds have graced our screens from our childhood days, recently opted to shut down its Nakuru factory in favor of imports from an Egypt subsidiary instead, with high operation costs have forced the hand of those in charge. Confectionery giant Cadbury faced a similar fate, making the choice to pull out previous functions in Kenya, leaving only marketing and distribution operational within our borders. Sources cite the combined loss of jobs between the two shut downs at about 400 employees.
Even more recently, Nestle Kenya has seen a downsizing of close to fifty employees across the organizational chart in a similar effort to cut costs and make the Kenyan outfit more profitable. For those of us in the logistics industry, our first thought from watching these events unfold : exhaust all other options first. “Trimming the fat” can be in the form of mass layoffs, yes, but ideally as leaders of our companies we should seek other places where cost cutting measures can be implemented as a priority.
Should the unfortunate eventuality become our only option, it is best to inform employees of the same early enough to enable them make the necessary preparations and avoid blindsiding them with news of their recent unemployment. Along the same line, as employers we should do all in our power to help our former staff move on. This can come in the form of letters of recommendation that help potential future employers understand that while we valued the now redundant employees, circumstances beyond their control forced their retrenchment.
On the other side of the coin, employees can help management enrich their job seeking experience by being model employees during good times; not only will this make it less likely for them to be displaced in a retrenchment, it also makes it a straightforward matter to receive authentic recommendations as previously mentioned.
At the same time, it is advisable to stay abreast with current events not just internally within your company, but also within the industry you operate. This will likely work in your favor as you will be able to spot worrying trends that allow you to prepare yourself for the worst. This can including cutting down costs to build up savings that can tide you over while searching for a new job, or support a separate endeavor such as launching a new business.
As participants in both local and international trade by way of shipping, freighting and engaging in supply chain management, this new trend of major multinationals closing up shop or slimming down operations is indeed worrying. What are your thoughts on the same?
Even as we ponder what this means for an industry already rocked by trade disagreements, insecurity and the brief spark of good news that is lower fuel prices, we wish all those affected by the retrenchments every good will and luck as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.