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In 2019, I passed by a recreational facility to make an enquiry and met a gentleman who introduced himself as the Facility Manager. We developed a rapport when, during our conversations, he realized that we both hail from the same County and that I attended the same high school with his brother. At one point, we discussed his role and I realized that the job was basically that of a caretaker since it involved ensuring cleanliness, security as well as timely repair and maintenance with little decision making responsibilities. Further discussions revealed that the gentleman is an alumni of Starehe Boys Center as well as Certified Public Accountant. As we parted ways, the gentleman also requested me that I refer to him some Master of Ceremony (Emcee) assignments, something I never did probably because the gentleman never followed up on his request.

The matter did not bother me a lot until the gentleman called me during the COVID 19 pandemic requesting that I send him some money so that he can buy food. He explained to me that he lost his job once the facility shut down due to COVID 19 restrictions. While I obliged and sent some little cash, I made a decision to meet and discuss his options with him, a meeting that took place after 2 months. During our discussion, I learnt how talented in public speaking the man is once he showed me clips of events he had Emceed. I also learnt that he is a gifted singer who has never recorded a song.

I was not surprised when the gentlemen resumed his “permanent” job after COVID 19 restrictions were eased because he needed to place food on the table. I am however disturbed by the fact that despite encouragement to pursue his passion and use his gifts to earn a living, he has gone back to his comfort zone and is in no hurry to prepare for retirement. In addition, he does is not willing to go out and market his talent for fear of antagonizing his employer.  He has severally told me that though he is not very happy with his job, he is lucky to be able to put food on the table.

This gentlemen’s story is typical of many Kenyans I have come across who freeze with fear when the likelihood of leaving employment to pursue other interests. According to a 2021 research brightermonady.com, 11% of 1,760 employed persons who were surveyed were unhappy about their employers while 47% were neither happy or unhappy. On the other hand, 11% of employees would not recommend their employers to a friend while 16% were not sure if they would do so.

The foregoing percentages tells us that there were about 193 unhappy respondents who would not even dare recommend their employers to a friend. In addition, there are 827 persons who are indifferent about their job and employer. My worry stems from the fact that due to dissatisfaction or indifference, these people may not be productive in their current roles. Worse still, these persons, like my friend, may be sitting on goldmines of talents with which they can make a better living, impact more lives and probably be happier.

I once heard of the saying that “cemeteries possess more wealth than the goldmines of South Africa.” This statement speaks volumes about persons like my friend or the 193 unhappy as well as 827 indifferent who fear change or taking risks to the extent that they hold on to dissatisfying jobs. They may die with songs and books that were never written, businesses that were never started and innovations that were never initiated. In addition, these persons, are preventing other people from growing into the roles they are currently holding. Worse still, future generations will miss out on knowledge, wisdom, wealth and other benefits that could have been created through utilization of the peoples’ talents. This is a tragedy born out of the fallacy of permanence.

Dr. Weru Mwangi is the CEO & Lead Consultant at Ultimate Management Solutions, a firm specializing in training & consultancy in Finance, Governance, Strategy, Risk Management and Leadership Development.  He can be contacted on weru@umslgroup.com  




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