We’re all ready for this year to be over. Most days have been painful, as we watch the news and wait for things to change. It’s felt helpless and at times, hopeless. But, it’s beginning to look like we’re in the final stretch of this pandemic marathon.
With that in mind, try not to ignore the holidays. I know it’s tempting. You’re excited for January to be here. But, at your work, there is at least one person who is living alone. They aren’t near family. They aren’t married. They don’t have children. And for them, the holidays are going to be especially tough this year.
Work isn’t about taking care of colleagues emotionally. But, this year, we have to stick together. Making it through a pandemic is a team project.
Check on each other. Zoom meetings make normal small talk harder. Find time to chat about more than just revenue and goals. Ask how people are holding up – and mean it. Listen. Make a mental note if someone seems to be struggling. Check back with them.
Profitability is great, but the entire company will suffer if employee morale is low. And, we are all in this together – even on holidays.
Take the time to acknowledge this holiday season. It’s hard that we can’t all be together. I love those big fancy holiday parties. Getting dressed up and sharing cocktails with colleagues can be the best part of December. I look forward to them every year.
But, even though you can’t have a big group gathering in person, there are other things you can do. Try activities like a Zoom holiday party. Or, send cards to each other. Perhaps you can have a virtual lunch with your team. Ask for ideas, and you may discover something creative that you hadn’t thought of.
Whatever you do, do something. I know that it won’t compare. It won’t be the best party. And honestly, it might even be the worst holiday party you’ve ever thrown. But, whatever you do, it will be better than nothing.
Those people on your team who are alone will be struggling this month. It’s not that they “may” be struggling. They are struggling. If you’re married or have children, some alone time probably sounds like just the luxury you need. But, single colleagues have been alone since March. There’s a reason why solitary confinement is used as punishment in prison. It’s hard; really hard.
Your company holiday party or greeting card may be the only recognition of the holiday season your single colleagues may have. This is especially true if they don’t live near family, or if their family is older.
Take the time to celebrate just a little, and to find your holiday cheer. Give thanks. Although this year has been the most difficult, it’s also created strong bonds. We’re all in this together, and very soon, it will be in person.
Have you had enough of 2020? Let’s look to what you can expect in your 2021 workplace. The 2020 pandemic has been a historic year. We’ve experienced unexpected change. And, interestingly, some of that change may be here to stay.
Recently, Glassdoor’s Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, shared his five predictions on what the future holds at work. First, office life will return, but will never be the same. Second, employees expect progress, not pledges, on corporate diversity, equality, and inclusion. Salary expectations will get a permanent work from home overhaul. Company cultures must adapt to post-COVID-19 realities. And, although the COVID-19 recession is likely over, those jobs may never return.
I’m sure you would agree; there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with a few of the highlights.
More than 40% of US workers have been working from home full-time since June 2020. This dramatic shift has caused significant changes in the way we work. Chamberlain believes that although companies have been forced to rethink work from home policies, employees will ultimately return to work once it’s safe. Although remote work allows companies to hire from anywhere, it has downsides. Chamberlain cites poor employee communication, lack of motivation and performance, lower creativity, and lack of spontaneity as the drawbacks to remote work. Casual bonds created through in person interactions are critical for building a culture of innovation and creativity. According to an internal survey of Glassdoor’s own workforce, most workers prefer a hybrid work arrangement, splitting time between home and office.
The Black Lives Matter movement also cast a needed light on racial inequality that will impact our workplace going forward. Companies are being pushed to make real progress on diversity and inclusion efforts. The public also expects more transparency on these efforts going forward. Conversations around economic inequality and police violence sparked a national conversation. In the workplace, this conversation has the potential to be a win-win. In other words, diversity attracts talent. Glassdoor found in a recent survey that more than three in four employees and job seekers say they would no longer apply at a company without workplace diversity.
Chamberlain also predicts a shift in salary expectations. He believes tech workers moving from expensive metros such as San Francisco or New York should expect pay reductions from five to thirty percent, depending on where they move. This is one point where my perspective veers away from Chamberlain. If a worker has a unique skillset, a company will be forced to pay the fair market rate for that skillset, regardless of where they live. On the flip side, if location is no issue, job seekers will likely face more competition as they apply for jobs. I believe the increase in competition will change salaries more than a cost of living adjustment.
Ultimately, the unexpected nature of 2020 has forever changed our workplace, for good and for bad. Here’s to a better 2021!
I recently received a question from a reader. The reader asked at what point in your career you will have reached your ideal potential. In other words, when should you stop moving up and seeking more money and a better title? When do you run the risk of messing things up? When should you be happy with your current situation?
I wish this scenario were an option. Perhaps many years ago, it was. Employees stayed at the same company for years. They retired there and got a gold watch. Unfortunately, those days are over.
Assuming you’ll stay in one position for the remainder of your career is risky. Companies are no longer guaranteed to be in business. And, even if they stay in business, they aren’t required to keep you on the payroll.
Whether or not you’re self-employed, our current environment makes you the CEO of your own career. You are the only one in the driver’s seat. This has never been more clear than during the pandemic. Companies are laying off employees and going out of business every single day.
Although you don’t have to go up the ladder, it’s not recommended to get off the ladder completely. You must stay in the game or risk becoming obsolete. At a bare minimum, you should be maintaining (and growing) your skillset. You can do this by volunteering for new projects at work. You can take a continuing education course online. You can find a mentor. There are many ways to grow yourself and your resume.
One thing you may consider is a lateral move. Perhaps you move to another department within your company. Or, you might move to a similar role in another company. Over time, salaries increase significantly. But, you’d be surprised to learn where they grow. Very often, companies save the big salary bumps for external hires. If you are happy to continue at your current company, they will be happy to increase your pay three percent each year. But, if you are open to joining another company, your pay may increase by ten, twenty, or thirty percent in one move.
Sadly, companies just don’t incentivize their employees to stick around anymore. And very often, they aren’t investing resources into the skillsets of their existing employees. If you’ve finding this to be the case, pay attention. Ignoring these signs will leave you at risk if anything goes wrong and you need to find another job.
This all sounds quite negative, I know. But, this is the reality we’re living in today. Our workplaces aren’t as stable as they once were. You have to create your own stability. Think of your career like an investment. You want to diversify. You want to minimize your risk, and maximize your return. You wouldn’t let your money sit in an account for years without ever looking at it. Why would you do that with your career?
This week, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Normally, it’s an opportunity to gather together with loved ones, eat way too much good food, and watch a little football. It’s typically an opportunity to express gratitude for our good fortune. This year, it’s a little different. The pandemic and 2020 have created a challenging environment that leaves some wondering what we are thankful for, and others realizing just how lucky we are.
Whichever side you fall on this years, I encourage you to allow Thanksgiving to inspire your job search. Just because we are going through a difficult time does not mean there are not opportunities to be had. Find yours, and help those around you who are struggling to find theirs.
Be Grateful: Focus on the positive things about your current job. Perhaps you like your boss, your team, or that you’re able to work remotely. Even in negative situation, there are usually a few things to be thankful for. Move your attention to those items.
Reconnect: Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the holiday season. Take the opportunity to reconnect with friends, coworkers, and loved ones you haven’t seen in a while – by phone, email, or video. Not only is it good for your soul, it’s good for your network. When you’re looking for a job, it’s critical that you keep your network up to date.
Reflect: Holidays are a great time to think back about the past year, and to make plans for the future. What went well? What would you do differently? Write these things down, along with goals for next year. When would you like to find a new job? What are the attributes you’d prefer in your next job?
Help Others: Networking is a big part of finding a job. When we’re in the middle of our own search, we forget about those around us. Take the time to help those in your life who are also looking. In return, they will help you.
Relax: Looking for a job can be a long, and at times, stressful, process. Don’t forget to take a little time for yourself. It will help you to keep moving forward in your search when you return to work.
Give Thanks: Take the time to thank those in your life who help you every day. Whether it’s a friend, coworker, or supervisor, take the time to wish them a happy Thanksgiving — and thank them for the impact they make on your life. You might even consider giving thanks in the form of a written recommendation on LinkedIn.
Stay Positive: The holiday season can be a tough one if you’re looking for a job. It is a time of increased financial responsibilities and decreased opportunities. But, staying positive will help to draw good people to you. It will help to lay the foundation for your job search, so they will think of you when they’re hiring. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Maintaining a healthy work life balance has always been important. In the past, finding balance was easier. It was obvious when you left your work world and entered your home. It was clear when you weren’t balancing your time well.
For the most part, I would argue that maintaining a healthy work life balance is as important now as it ever was. It might be more important now. Maintaining mental health is critical to making it through 2020. And, one thing that can erode it is a lack of division between work and personal.
The one exception is this. If working nonstop is providing a positive outlet, go for it! But, for the rest of us, we’ve got to find some space between the two worlds.
For most people, the pandemic is the first time we have worked from home for any length of time. Many people are working from their former dining rooms (now converted into makeshift offices). Most people are no longer changing into work attire during the day. We’re wearing hoodies and sweats to our meetings. Our children and pets are popping into Zoom meetings.
And, we’re not just taking our personal selves to work. We’re taking our work selves home. The time when work begins and ends has blurred. Our work supplies and computers are at home with us every day. We may get work calls and texts to our personal phones.
The line between what was our time and what was company time is unclear. And, it’s wearing many people down. If you find this is happening to you, look for ways to create worlds that are more separate.
For example, don’t do personal tasks during the day. Don’t respond to personal emails. Don’t make personal calls during work hours. Make work time just that – work time. Then, after a set time in the evening, switch off your work computer. Don’t respond to work email during personal time. Don’t take work calls. Separate the communications by both the hours in the day and the computer you are using.
Consider talking to your colleagues about this goal too. One of the problems in an office is that some folks will send email after work. They may be trying to make a point that they’re working, or they may not think about it. Either way, it puts social pressure on colleagues to do the same. Some folks will call into work meetings, even when they have taken a vacation day. It seems like no big deal. We’re all at home anyway, right? Wrong. This also puts unnecessary pressure on those around you to give up their personal time.
The gains from doing personal things during work hours – or doing work things during personal hours – are very small. But, the loss can be huge. Finding this balancing act will help you during the pandemic. Take it seriously and those around you will too.