Working from home

Making positive changes at work – 5 strategies

If you are in a slump at work but not in a position to up and leave, then consider these five ways to improve your situation or make things more bearable. Perhaps you’ve not felt the same way about your role since the pandemic or working from home. Or maybe you’ve been due a refresh for a long time now. Making positive changes at work could be the push you need to move forward.

Change is a good thing, particularly at work. We spend so many hours every week in the workplace and can become bored doing the same thing. This can be despite still liking many aspects of our job, company or colleagues. Finding ways to mix things up can result in a refreshed sense of motivation. Your employer will benefit from your improved attitude and energy for your role.

making postive changes at work

1. Ask for flexible working

If your company isn’t already doing this, they are super late to the party. Even before the pandemic, flexible working had been a thing. It allowed employers to strike that work/life balance always spoken about. Your employer may be open to talking about it under certain conditions so read the post on returning to work after maternity leave or how to ask to work from home for essential tips.

But it shouldn’t be something only discussed after a change in circumstances. You should be able to raise the request without having a specific need at home. Justify how it won’t affect your job performance. This should be the easiest way to make positive changes at work and reap benefits quickly. Read more on staying productive when working from home.

Flexible working may mean working from home more regularly or working compressed hours. Imagine freeing up half a day a week if you could condense 5 days into 4.5? Even just working more from home (if your job allows it) can save you more time on the commute. And can allow you to get more done e.g. sticking the washing machine on or being around for deliveries. Gaining a bit of time back for yourself is invaluable.

2. Take a sabbatical

If you’ve worked at your organisation for a certain length of time, this might be something they are open to. Perhaps you feel like you need a long break from work but don’t want to leave your role. If you can justify the request and they are comfortable recruiting in your absence, you might be surprised. If they don’t want to lose you, then they may consider it. Discuss the length of time that will work well for both of you.

You will need to plan for this, so you can afford to take the time off. Perhaps you’ve been aching to travel or study something new. This could allow you the opportunity and be very freeing. If you don’t have children, this could be a particularly special time where you get to escape for an adventure.

Being able to take a long break from work at any age, is something most of us desire and deserve, but it’s not always possible. If you think it is, grab the chance! You could feel a lot more positive about returning to work after this change. Or you might end up not going back at all, if you applied for other jobs in the meantime!

3. Apply for a job in a different department, or consider a secondment

If you are keen to try something else or move into a different area, start working on those relationships with the relevant colleagues. Perhaps via a project together to get a taste of what they do or grab someone for a coffee or lunch to express your interest. It can be really hard to break into a new career line, but if you can make a shift sideways where you are, it’s a great way in.

You might not be ready or sure about leaving your area altogether. See if there are temporary secondment options such as a particular project, job share or a maternity cover. This might lead to you to make the shift permanently. Or really strengthen your CV to apply for other roles externally.

making positive changes at work

4. Request a location change

If you work for a large organisation that has offices or bases in different locations, consider a location change. If you were already thinking of moving to join a partner or you crave a big change, you might not have to leave your job. It might not be the exact same role, but there may be other possibilities you have transferable skills for.

For some this could mean something as exciting as a new country. But it could simply be changing cities or just another part of town, if you work for a big enough company. If the company is small, think about other organisations you already liaise with regularly as part of your job. Or companies your workplace partners with, contracts or provides a service to. If you already have a relationship with these other companies, have a dig to see what work opportunities they have. You may need to do this discreetly, if you don’t want your current employer to know too soon.

5. Ask for a pay rise

OK, this one is tricky and won’t be an option for some of you. But if you like and want to stay in your job but feel undervalued, you might have to consider asking for more money. If you can justify why you believe you are due a pay rise, then make the case professionally. Demonstrate if you’ve been working at a higher grade compared to colleagues. You could also collect evidence of peer salaries in other organisations to compare.

If this doesn’t work or you know it’s not even worth asking, then you may have to explore other pathways. Perhaps your company, like mine, has had to freeze pay due to various issues but you still need to know what their next plans are. If you essentially like your job but need to earn more money, perhaps consider another part time job or side hustle. You will need to have the time, energy or inclination though! Otherwise, it may be time to start looking elsewhere to be paid your worth…

Making positive changes at work, in other ways…

For some of you the above suggestions may feel a bit scary or simply unattainable in your particular workplace. Many organisations have become more open minded about ways of working and flexibility, but if yours hasn’t, you’ll need to be more creative. If you aren’t ready to leave your job but are craving a change, have a sit down with your line manager about what is possible. There may be other ways to start making positive changes at work such as volunteering duties or taking on other responsibilities.

Some other options could be requesting a longer holiday leave or reducing your hours (to free yourself up for other things such as a side hustle, hobby or study). It’s not always easy to make changes and you might not be up for anything drastic. But do explore alternative things you could do to reinvigorate how you feel about work. If your employer wants to keep you, they may well be more open to supporting changes to get you there.

If you are really unhappy or unsure of your rights at work, research the guidance in your country or state. In the UK, you can take a look at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

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