Working in the construction industry in Kenya, (East Africa region) is quite turbulent. There are months where the cash flow is excellent, and the works get done according to the programme and the workflow is exhilarating. Then there are months where things take a nosedive- masses of casual labourers are sent home, banks refuse to give credit, there are speculations of mismanagement of funds, and things come to a quick halt. Job security is highly dependent on the cash flow, and without it, there is no business.
In light of this turbulent scenario, it is easy to lose sight of the benefits of working in the construction industry, and also in the private sector. Here I share some of the positive aspects of being in the private sector as an employee.
The perks of being in a private company, in my experience, are
- Faster Rate of Gaining Experience
Being in a fast-paced environment where you learn a lot about your job in a short period of time.
My colleagues and I joke that for every one year of work, we have 2 or 3 times the experience of our peers in the public sector.
It’s simple math. We get in at 7am and have a one hour break at 12, and then work all through to 6pm, and sometimes longer. That’s 10 hours a day, 26 days a month (we work Saturdays half day too). That’s 55 hours a week.
Our counterparts in less demanding jobs, say a small paced company or self-employed or working for the government, work from 8am to 5pm, with breaks in between. We all know that working for the govt, the times are not as strict. I have a friend who sometimes leaves the office at 4pm, and gets in at say 8:30 or 9. That’s 2 hours l less from the 8hours. That’s 6 hours.
6 hours by 5 is 30 hours.
30 hours vs 55 hours.
Multiply the 25 hours against 50 working weeks in the year, and you have 1250 hours on top of the peer in a slower paced company.
That translates to 1250/6 hours = 208.3 days a year. That’s 1 and 2/3 more experience than your former classmates. this explains why people in the private sector advance faster in terms of ranking.
- Usage of the Latest Technology
I have the privilege of working for an international company whereby all company documents are stored in a server.
We also use this server to work, and any other colleague can see in real time what you are doing. I find this to be so amazing, especially since politically speaking Africa is a third world country.
A huge chunk of time is saved by not having to physically transfer files to another computer, and there is also transparency in the work done.
The easy access to information cuts work time by a great margin and enables teamwork to be more organic.
- Diverse Work Culture and Personelle Experience
My mother has worked for the government for more than 20 years, and most of her colleagues have been Kenyans. This was also my experience when I interned at a parastatal and at a government institution. Whereas while working for private companies I have had the privilege of working with colleagues from Europe, the UK and the Eastern countries (Italy, Ireland, South Africa, Philippines, Mozambique, Cameroon, etc)
What happens is that I absorb new methods of working, for instance, my immediate boss is an Italian, and he brings Italian excellence and perfectionism to work which translates to higher personal performance.
There is also the chance to understand and grow a sort of international way of thinking and expanding reasoning methods aka critical thinking.
- Ability to Negotiate a Salary
Unlike in the government where the salaries are almost set in stone aka job groups, in the private sector, there is room to wiggle and negotiate a more favourable salary, provided the range one quotes is within the companies pay grade.
While I know that negotiating a salary at any stage of the work (could be before accepting the offer, after probation or one year) is daunting, it is a skill that can be sharpened. It also allows the employer to realise your negotiation skills, and if the offer put on the table is unfavourable, one can always walk away. Ultimately, the aim is to be employed so the more favourable the outcome of the negotiation, the happier one will be.
Need to learn how to negotiate better? Here are some worthy tips.
What are your thoughts on these advantages of working in the private sector?