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How to Keep your Job in Switzerland

Posted on 30 December 2011 by Steven

Switzerland still has the highest salaries in Europe, but the bilateral agreements have resulted in a significant increase in unemployment. Swiss companies, like those elsewhere, have been trimming their workforce to lower costs and raise profits. Only the cosseted employees of local, state and federal government are immune, enjoying lifetime jobs and indexed salaries.

Over the past 12 months, unemployment rose over 50%.
In 2012 roughly 90,000 will be cut in CH.

If you’re in the private sector you need to be performant to stay employed and well-paid.

Here are some tips to keeping your job in Switzerland:

1) Identify yourself with your company.
Managers always prefer staff who feel implicated in the life of the company, who share its goals and worry about its problems,
and who are effective in bad times as in good times. In general, chiefs want loyal staff more than good mercenaries.

2) Have confidence in yourself
Unemployment has doubled in 2 years but at (officially) 6%, it’s still a lot less than elswhere in the EU.
It means there still close to 95% employment.
So don’t panic every time your manager calls you for a meeting that it means you’re going to be fired. Such a timorous
attitude will be noticed and will likely lead to be being considered expendable.

3) Don’t fear change.
Change always represents opportunity. The conomy changes, businesses change.
Change is inevitable everywhere. If you consider it an opportunity rather than a threat, you’re more than halfway to being a winner.
The best employees are those who are open and flexible.
Resisting change never brings anything but making work more difficult for everyone.

4) Keep learning.
Whatever happens, one has to remain competitive and on top of one’s field. As companies spend less and less on corporate training,
you need to show some imagination in keeping abreast of developments in your field. For example: attending a management seminar or a language course. Those who strive are always valued more highly in the coroporate environment.

5) Specialize
PRactically every branch of the economy is threatened by outsourcing.
Consider how to acquire speciliazed skills, whatever niche that may be, so that you cannot be replaced or your role outsourced. The goal: your company should have too much difficulty replacing you.

7) Pay attention to what’s going on around you; you’ll be better prepared for what may come.
Did you notice we skipped number 6 ?

8) Be proactive. Don’t be one of those emplyees who always takes refuge in his job description and figures, it’s not my problem. If you see you can be useful with help in some other department, offer your help.

9) Where relevant, make suggestions to management where cost savings may be made.
In periods of difficulty, management has to be very sensitive to costs. Even when it’s a question of small savings, like reducing mobile phone usage in favor of landlines or reducing color photocopies, it shows you are rowing in the same direction as your company.

10) Attendence and Rapidity
Be early to work and leave a little later. Everybody notices the guy who shots down his computer at 16:45 to be out the door before 17h00. Just like everyone notices the colleague who takes 2 hour lunch breaks. Consider the Appearance of your commitment.

11) Don’t work at home or outside the office. It’s a sad fact but but if they can’t see it, they assume it isn’t there.
It’s a waste of time (unless you enjoy doing it or are paid according to results).
Management has to SEE you working.

12) Look dynamic.
As a corollary to 11, be energetic — you motivate others, appear stress resistant to your management, and you give the general impression of doing more than you actually are.
In organizational structures, appearance is more importance than being.
Therefore, give special attention to sleeping well, eating well, and being general well-balanced. Just showing up at work healthy and full of energy is 90% of the battle.

13) Be optimistic.
At least in what you say at work. Nobody like the pessimist who is full of negativity, saying this won’t work, that isn’t how it
should have been, he isn’t suited for the job, she won’t succeed on that new project, etc. Pessimists irritate everyone and when it’s time to cut staff
they have the fewest friends defending them.

14) Participate in the company life, pay attention to your appearance
How you dress sends out signals about how you value yourself and how others should value you.

15) Do your own marketing inside the company.
Just doing your job well doesn’t cut it anymore.
You have to make sure management realizes how well you’re doing your jobs and how valuable you are to the company. The higher up you are in the hierarchy of a company the more time you have to spend on personal marketing. For mid level managers this can be 50% of one’s time.

16) Be careful about absences for illness.
OK, if you have to have a kidney transplant, you have to have one.
But be aware of how management will perceive a 2-week absence for flu in an epoch where resources are stretched and everyone is under pressure.

17) Stay busy.
Did you finish everything you have to do ? Maybe there’s some other
critical work you can help with?

18) Be humble and patient
In 2012, it is unlikely to be propitious to ask for a raise or a promotion.
The economy is going to limp by, a lot of companies (particularly PMEs) will fight to survive, consumption will contract and revenues will decline.
Even if you’re a worldbeater and amply deserve your raise or promotion, let your boss or management (or a competitor’s headhunter) offer it.

19) Evaluate yourself
Consider yourself and your performance from the point of view of your management.
Improve yourself where you can.

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Tags: downsizing, extra hours, fear, long-term, motivation, overtime, paradox, perspective, productivity, promotion, replacement, stagnation, Unemployment, workload

The Invisible Promotion

Posted on 06 February 2011 by Brucellus

The past 2-3 years has seen increased tightening of the Swiss labor market, a process that began with the opening up of Switzerland to EU labor. With the drastically increased pool of labor and the contractions or stagnation in key economies,  unemployment has been high by Swiss standards (4% – 5%) and salaries have stagnated.
An unwelcome result has been an increased workload for those who survived cuts and downsizing.  This is the world of the ‘invisible promotion,’ where you keep your job but have to do as well a part of your fired colleague’s or dismissed boss’s.
Productivity is high, thanks to unemployment. Across Switzerland, managers and staff now shoulder duties from laid-off managers and peers or positions that were eventually to be filled but probably won’t be.  The extra work means extra headaches and longer hours, but little or no extra money.

The piling-on of responsibilities is at an all-time high.  Employees who find themselves in such a situation often have difficulty working up the courage to ask for recognition for the work they are doing,  either a promotion and raise to recognize the additional work and responsibility undertaken, or a splitting up of the extra work among several people.
Though many people fear risking their supervisor’s wrath in an environment where jobs are still scarce, almost a third of employers say they’re willing to discuss raises with employees this year, according to a recent survey released in December. The percentage rises to over 40% for business-services and IT companies.
If you want to build a case for a real promotion instead of an invisible one, you need a strategy.
First, objectively document how you’re contributing, whether that is by bringing in more money or saving it.  Even if you’re not in sales,  your work or your ideas may have impact on increasing revenue.   Employees who consistently find unusual value for the company are always appreciated and retained.
Second, have a sense of timing. Being sensitive to the organization’s own pulse is critical.   
Then bring solutions to your boss, even including a staffing analysis.  Making things look easy is a good strategy. Act like you’re not tired, worn out, and angry,” even if you are. To keep one’s team engaged and motivated use appreciation, openness, respect – lifestyle gimmicks like work-from-home Fridays can be very effective, allowing staff to wear pajamas or spend an extra hour with their kids, and taking some of the pressure off those ‘invisible promotions,’ making them a little less stressful.
There are a few way to make that ‘extra work’ work for your career in the long run :
Prioritize: work with your manager to understand what your role is now that so-an-so is gone and not to be replaced any time soon, what the key results are, and which are the most important elements.  An important thing to cover is determining which tasks can be eliminated  (even if they once seemed important).
Ask for training or — if relevant — coaching.  In you the responsibilities that have been foisted upon you, you may need to develop new management techniques to handle the new tasks.  To succeed, you have to figure out what skills you need and then get your management to buy into the training; they need to see that it’s cheaper than hiring someone else.
Fill the holes in your résume.
You may not have asked for the job, but now you need to prove that you can keep it.
If you’re in a context wehere everybody has an MBA but you don’t, then you’d probably  better sign up for that Saturday-morning program.
As with any new change in job description, one needs to take a hard look at one’s skill set and make sure one has what it takes.
Establish a time frame.   If your employer is now adding a huge extra load to your job, you have to hammer out some kind of agreement about the expectations and the time frame. 
If you find yourself with a bunch of new responsibilities dumped on you, make a case for your promotion.  Be clear that you want to move up — and that you see that as good for the department and the company/organization too.
Alternatively, if you want to return to a lower level, think up a plan to make that happen.  
If these strategies don’t work, look around for another job.  But in the interim, try to stay appreciative of what you have.

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