Moving on without moving

Frank Hutton

OK. So you know you want a better working life; and you are prepared and fired up to do something about it. However, you don't want to miss out on the investment you've already made in your current employer and are wondering if/how you might make things better where you are. Here’s some simple steps you can take to transform your existing situation:

1. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Understand the plusses of your current employer and what you might be giving up. You joined your existing employer probably with high hopes, and maybe have enjoyed many good years there already. There must have been something good about them. List what those things are. Think beyond your role - maybe your colleagues are a real pull, or the location, or what it does/produces or its ethos. Chat to others about what they find good about working there, if you are struggling yourself to do this. If you can’t find anything positive after that, then it’s one indicator a move on might be sensible - but most people do find some benefits. 


2. Save your energy for you, not work

Look at other departments and sections or divisions: where are people happiest? Which seems to do the most interesting work to you? Do certain ones provide a better challenge/working pattern/location/colleagues/benefits? Speak to employees in those sections. Maybe even approach HR if there is someone there you can talk to. You may find they are more helpful than you expect. An internal transfer will be less stressful, exhausting and laborious than changing from your current employer where you know how the system works.


3. It’s not them, it’s you

Has something changed in your world recently? A relationship? A bereavement? A change in your regular pattern outside of work? Your supplies of patience, energy etc are finite and may have been depleted by difficulties or situations outside of work. If you’re not happy generally, that spills over. This in turn affects how your colleagues feel about you, and how they behave around you. It can be difficult for you to see though, so speak to a colleague or even a superior who you trust, and ask them in confidence whether they think you have changed in the period you remember work not being so good. More precise timing may help you trace back where the true cause of your unhappiness lies. You can then take steps to address it outside of work: through finding a fresh activity, getting help through counselling or perhaps just giving yourself time to work through things. Knowing what the cause is may be enough in itself to help you feel happier.


4. The grass on the other side is rarely greener

Sometimes you need to look more closely at the ‘grass’ where you are. Often the reason that jobs advertised on websites or promoted to you by recruiters seem so shiny and exciting is because they give a broader, fuller picture of what’s on offer. Nowhere is perfect but are there opportunities you don’t know about? Are there schemes whereby you can take a career break or get involved in a community project? Would your employer be prepared to provide training to help you develop? If you have an appraisal coming up that’s a great time to discuss these kind of things; or if not, raise it with your boss. Explain to them you like working where you do (and with them!), but are seeking more fulfilment out of your work and seek their wisdom on how you might do that. People generally like to help others. So you may be pleasantly surprised by their response. Go on - try it.

There’s nothing to lose.

By exploring all the options open to you at your existing employer you ensure you are not missing a perfect opportunity right at your feet; and you can then pursue your goal of a better working life with confidence and with maximum energy. And if at the end of all this, you discover there’s nothing for you where you are, you can pursue your job hunt with maximum confidence instead!