Sometimes, you aren’t looking for drastic change. All you need is a few pointers to make sure you don’t lose sight of your goal, or let skills fall by the wayside. In this weekly series, we provide some helpful career tips that you can take with you every day so that you can stick to what YOU want to do.
This week, we take a look at common problems in the workplace, and how you can try to overcome them. You will find that for several of them, the first steps are the same; it’s just a case of knowing how to apply the right process to each situation.
- Contract / employment agreement issues. Sometimes we are confused before we even start a role, especially if we are handed a large chunk of legal paperwork to look through. The main thing to remember here is that not all employment contracts are the same, so do read it; don’t assume it will be the same as your previous company. If something in there concerns you, like the ramifications of a non-compete clause (which are often not enforceable as they amount to restraint of trade – but there are exceptions!) your first port of call should be your employer. They should be able to clearly explain what a clause means, and if they can’t, it’s reasonable to ask them to rewrite it in a clearer manner, or remove it altogether. If you still aren’t sure, there are a few things you can do. If you have access to a lawyer, they will check for you, or ACAS have an online help portal which can answer common queries.
- Co-worker disputes. These aren’t fun for anyone, but most tensions can be solved fairly quickly through honesty. If there’s a conflict with a co-worker who is located near you (as opposed to on the end of an email), it is usually easiest to confront it head-on and ask them to talk it through with you. If that doesn’t work, and the dispute is affecting your work, go up the ladder to your team leader and explain what has happened – they may offer to mediate so you can discuss it in an environment that won’t escalate. If it’s a small difference of opinion, it might be worth asking friends or colleagues who don’t know the other person to help you work out any points of view you hadn’t considered.
- Pay issues. Do you deserve a raise? Put together your case before you ask for one. Assess what you’re earning using three metrics:
- the salaries of colleagues doing similar work (if you can find out);
- your own salary history within the company (are you still on the same wage as two years ago? How much has that wage depreciated in value?);
- and an average for your role across the industry – here’s where you can use your Stay Nimble account to access Burning Glass data, and check whether you could be getting more elsewhere.
Another thing to remember is your company’s situation as a whole. If you work for a small start-up, the extra finances just might not be there; if you’re at a big professional services firm where it’s frowned upon to discuss salaries between contractors, you may find it easier to ask in an objective way.
- According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, nearly 40% of all reported work-related illnesses in 2015-2016 were stress-related. It’s important to realise that it is an unfortunately common part of work, and you don’t need to hide it; in fact, your employer has an obligation to ensure your health and safety, and that includes stress. If stress is making you unwell, talk to your doctor. You should also tell your HR department at work; ask them to conduct a risk assessment for you in order to support you. There are guidelines on how to do that here. Secondly, there are some great tips from MIND on how to give yourself a boost, or a break, when you need to so that it doesn’t overwhelm you.
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Author: Katherine Stephen
Katherine is a qualified careers advisor and a member of the Career Development Institute. She has just begun a PhD programme to research meta-skill development in the workplace, and is a fiction editor and publisher in her spare time. You can find her on Twitter at @katobell.