Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ebb and Flow of Power Erodes Trust in Relationships

Changing economic times have created a tidal change in the balance of power between the employer - employee in Vietnam.

In the 'good old days' before 2001, talented Vietnamese would join with an organisation and pretty well stay there. Sure there was the labour contract, but there was also the unwritten emotional contract between employer and employee. The employer would continue to provide meaningful work with adequate salary and the employee would enthusiastically apply their skills and experience to the business success.

During the 'over-heated days' of 2007/2008 the tide flowed to the employee side. Talented people left the stable life to join fast growing companies who offered a different contract of high risk / high reward. Employers who did not have their retention programs in place suffered, either by losing talent or by over paying to keep good staff.

In 2009 the tide is turning towards employers having more power. As economies slow around the world, employers are faced with a wider range of candidates for fewer roles. Skilled overseas Vietnamese are returning to their home country, and they are affordable. New foreign firms have slowed their plans for Vietnam while things are uncertain at home. Salary demands have slowed. However can employers offer true job security in these uncertain times?

For the future I am sure the tide will once again change. Employees will again have the upper hand as the pace of economic growth increases in Vietnam and around the world.

So what is the lesson here?

For both sides it is important to remember that whatever the current level of the tide, eventually it will change and probably sooner than later. The speed of these changes recently has meant the erosion of trust, which will take longer to return.

For employers, take actions to build the level of trust with your keys employees (this assumes you know who they are already). Make sure this group is protected in your cost cutting measures.

For employees, understand that your employer or future employer might lack trust in you. Build trust by continuing to work on a strong track record of achievements in your current role. Not only will this increase your employ-ability, but it will also provide you with the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.