A recent client talked to us about her work experience these last two years. She had pivoted from working entirely onsite – to working remotely (and loving it) – to now being told she may need to return to the office again. The flexibility she had grown to love was in jeopardy. She was feeling stale in her current position, and she was looking for career advancement opportunities. Sadly, her experience is not unique. Millions of people like her nationwide are leaving unfulfilling jobs and joining ‘The Great Resignation.’
‘The Great Resignation’ is how many employees are taking their first steps toward career wellness. According to HealthyPenn State, career wellness means “that you gain personal satisfaction and enrichment from your work. It also means that your work is consistent with your values, goals, and lifestyle.” The reasons people are resigning in record numbers are numerous. But proactively working on your career wellness can help you before taking any drastic steps.
Take ownership of your own career wellness
As the old adage says, “No one can make you happy but yourself.” So, to obtain personal satisfaction and enrichment, first, take ownership of your career wellness. Although you may think resigning from your current job is the best first step, we encourage you you first to try some of the following tactics. You may be surprised at how a change in your behavior and attitude can positively affect those around you.
- Build out a career toolkit. This allows you to explore what you like in your role or career, what you don’t like, and your strengths and weaknesses. You can then be more targeted and focus on the areas you need to elevate and know what you should refrain from in a future role. This exercise can also help you explore your career values and identify the next stepping stones you need to advance your career.
- Talk to your boss about your goals. You don’t want to typecast yourself as only capable of doing your current job. Make sure your boss understands what you like doing and what you’d like to learn. Tell them you’d love regular feedback and ask for it if it doesn’t start coming. Ask for projects that will allow you to demonstrate your interests and potential. Let your boss know you want growth opportunities that will help you expand your comfort zone and learn new skills.
- Keep your accomplishments visible. Exposure in a remote workplace is limited, so you must be proactive about becoming more visible. A colleague told me that her mentor advised her to do this by tracking them in a document or Excel sheet. You should identify your big wins or accomplishments monthly or, minimally, quarterly. Convey them to your supervisor during a check-in and/or performance evaluation. You can also update your LinkedIn with those wins to highlight them for your colleagues.
- Widen your internal network. You want to build a reputation in your organization, so people think about, refer, and recommend you. Find out who needs to know about you and the work you do. Here are ways to make yourself more visible and known to a broader network.
- Show up early for meetings and linger afterward before logging off for small talk.
- Turn on your camera during meetings.
- Participate in Slack/Teams chats and discussions.
- Attend social events – including virtual ones.
- Volunteer for cross-departmental project teams.
- Organize lunch-and-learns, brainstorms, or touch bases with other departments, so you can tell each other what your teams are doing and how you might collaborate or support each other.
- If your organization has a staff directory, look through it to identify people you can network with internally. Find opportunities to show an interest in and help others. Don’t limit your efforts to the people you think can help you.
- Find mentors. You don’t have to find ‘official’ mentors. Look for people five, ten, and fifteen years ahead of you who will answer questions, listen to your ideas, and offer guidance. Be clear with them about your goals, so you don’t scare them off. Let them know you don’t expect them to magically change your life. Make it easy for them to have a relationship with you. Everyone is more comfortable with Zoom now. Reach out via LinkedIn and use Zoom to communicate via quick touch bases. Don’t be a burden. Think about how you can help them to maintain a balanced relationship.
Consider organizational values and culture
A positive work environment starts from the top down. Ultimately, it’s best to work for an organization that values and supports career wellness. Flexibility and remote work have become career “must haves.” Therefore, give your loyalty to an employer who is not just allowing you to work remotely but is empowering you to work remotely. You deserve an employer who supports your growth by investing in your professional development and demonstrating their interest in your career wellness. By being well in your career, you can transcend that feeling and enrich your life in ways you never knew you could.
To help you be more proactive in your career wellness journey, check out our Learning Lab: Career Growth in a Remote Environment and Wellness Wins in the Remote and Hybrid Workplace. Attendees will learn strategies and techniques to help your own and, if you’re a manager, your employees’ career wellness, and so much more.