At the start of a new year, many people hope to see some positive changes in their jobs. Given the struggles at many companies, workers may need to make those changes happen themselves. Fortunately, basics such as maintaining a good attitude and achieving a healthy work/life balance can go a long way towards improving a worker’s sense of well-being. That might not get you a raise or immediate promotion, but you might feel a lot better when you walk through the office door each day. Here are five ways to make your job better in the new year:
Keep busy, and keep connected
It’s pretty hard to feel upbeat, especially with analysts predicting what they call a jobless recovery, one in which employers are making few hires. But there are some antidotes to uncertainty: Find ways to make your work situation and performance better, and stay connected with a variety of business contacts. Leigh Branham, owner of the human resources consulting firm Keeping The People Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas, US, says workers need to be proactive to improve their standing at work. He recommends writing an individual development plan that spells out how you can improve your job. Then start implementing it. For example, write down some ways you can deal with a bigger workload more efficiently or make your work more creative. You should also jot down ways to help your department or company run better, and then discuss those ideas with your boss. “Keep your antennae out” for unmet needs at the organization, Branham says.
Class apart: Get rid of your negative attitude at the office for success.
Buck up that attitude
Having a good attitude, even if you often feel you have to drag yourself into work every day, is critical. B.J. Gallagher, a workplace consultant and author of It’s Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been, says that trying to see the best in your situation will not only make your work life better, it will relieve stress and allow you to open up to new opportunities. It will help you come up with the ideas you need to impress your bosses. “I would encourage everyone to think like a cat,” Gallagher says. “You’ve got to find the ability to flip in mid-air and land on your feet.” And remember the old saying, “Negativity breeds negativity”. It’s true—if you have a negative attitude, your job situation is inevitably going to seem unhappy and miserable.
Watch out for overload
Because layoffs have left fewer people doing the same amount of work, many employees have much more work than they can comfortably or even competently do. “Some people are burning themselves out right now,” Branham says. But some are contributing to their own misery, he says, explaining that “a lot of people are overburdening themselves with extra work—a lot of people are becoming martyrs”. Although the extra work is not always avoidable, Branham says it’s important to tell your boss if you feel that you have more than you can handle.
How to advertise yourself
It’s more important than ever to showcase your hard work these days, but be careful not to hinder yourself in the process, Gallagher says. Find ways to make the boss to notice your work like forwarding compliments from customers, or alert your managers to projects you’ve completed.
Focus on the here and now
Many disgruntled workers are telling themselves, “When the economy gets better, I’m outta here! I’ll get a better job and quit!” And that’s where their energy is directed, or, perhaps more accurately, misdirected. Many people look to move outside the company when something is awry, but Branham says that often can cause more trouble in the current job. And working harder, and better, in your job now may make a bad situation easier.
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