Staying positive in challenging times
2020 has been a year that many people would like to forget. With negative headlines everywhere and talk inevitably turning to the big questions of the day, it’s easy to understand how people may be feeling bogged down by the prevailing doom and gloom.
These are tough times and we don’t pretend to know the answers. However, having weathered two recessions during our 22 year history, what we do know is that a positive attitude goes a very long way. We thought now might be a good time to explore some of the issues in the hope that it may inspire you as you make the most of your existing role, embark on your next career move or persevere with your current job search.
PMA – Positive Mental Attitude
When everything around you starts to feel negative, one of the first things you should do to protect your mental health is to try and adopt a positive mental attitude. Making a conscious effort to view the world through a “glass half full” lens can help you to consider things differently and improve your mood.
“Having a positive attitude in the workplace won't necessarily make you better at your job, but it will improve the way people view you as a person, so they may be more inclined to help you succeed and cheer you on.”
Jennifer Post, Business News Daily
When it comes to working life, your mood can create a lasting impression on those you work with. If you’re in a bad mood or snappy, the negativity you create is bound to impact those around you. However if you project a smile and a happy disposition, other people will start to feel their own moods lift, resulting in a much more positive environment to work in.
In challenging workplaces, being surrounded by positive people can improve the way that you work and has been proven to unleash greater creativity and productivity, more collaborative working, better communication and a greater desire to succeed.
How to manage your stress and/or anxiety ahead of return to work
As businesses start to return to a ‘new normal’, many employers may require their staff to return to their usual place of work. This may be a return to work after being furloughed, or it could be a return to physical premises, rather than working from home. For some people, this will be an anxious time. According to the ONS, almost 20 million adults said that their work had been affected by the coronavirus, with over 1 in 10 (13.4%) saying work was their biggest concern.
If you do have anxiety about a return to work, then you mst share your concerns with your line manager or your HR department. If your employer knows what your issues are, then practical steps can be taken to support you.
You may find that creating an ‘action plan’ can help you to manage your anxiety as you return to work. For example, if you work in a large organisation, why not arrange socially distanced meetings between yourself and one or two colleagues to break down any perceived or real barriers, share your experiences and compare worries?
Think about how you plan to get to work. If you need to rely on public transport, are there any ways in which you can mitigate your fears? Perhaps working staggered hours or a combination of office work and remote work could be effective?
You may wish to talk to your HR department about these things – and take the opportunity to ask about the health and safety measures being adopted, if this hasn’t already been communicated to you.
Having a personal plan to manage your own return to work or the workplace will help you to feel more in control and able to focus on the positives. You may like to check out the Mental Health Foundation for practical suggestions on how to look after your mental health at work.
Can you prepare yourself for any eventuality?
One of the biggest causes of anxiety in the workplace may be the fear of the unknown. Many businesses may be experiencing uncertainty – perhaps they have lots a major customer or there are problems with their supply chain – and this reverberates through to the staff. While it’s easy to join colleagues in negative speculation, it’s important to try to remain positive and take steps to prepare for different scenarios. This could be about developing new skills, identifying your most transferable skills and then actively looking for opportunities to apply them in busier parts of the business, or preparing yourself for new opportunities should redundancies be on the horizon.
Are you making the most of the opportunities to upskill yourself?
Many businesses are now having to diversify their offering and branch out into new areas. Employees who can show that they have the capabilities to work in these new areas will have greater job security. For example, if you work in administrative roles, can you showcase any project management or financial skills? If you work in HR, can you develop new skills within data analytics or communications?
We recommend talking directly to your line manager about opportunities to upskill yourself. Some training may be paid-for (and your employer may have a small budget) while other training opportunities can be found online – many of them free. The more skilled you are, the greater your chances of securing your current position or appealing to a broad range of potential new employers.
How can you improve your transferrable skills?
Think about your transferrable skills and how you can use these to boost your employment prospects.
If you think that you may be at risk of losing your job, then think carefully about what your next career move might be. Some people may look for an identical roles, whereas others may use it as an opportunity to cross sectors, seek promotion or change careers completely.
Being aware of your transferrable skills can help you to understand what you are good at, and how you can use these skills in other ways.
A top tip is to look at volunteering opportunities – you may be surprised to see how you can pick up new skills when working with community groups and charitable organisations.
Ways to highlight your value to your line manager
Another practical way to ease any anxiety you may have about job security is to find ways to highlight your value to your line manager. For starters, you need to make sure that you are visible, that they are aware of your work and the results you are achieving, your internal and external relationships and the contributions you have made to the team and the wider business. It is also important to be helpful, for example by offering to take on additional work or volunteering to mentor more junior staff. Making yourself indispensable and acting as a solid team player will stand you in good stead.
You may also wish to proactively seek out additional responsibilities. Are there any areas of the business that might benefit from your support? If you work in an in-house marketing team, can you work alongside your HR colleagues to support internal communications? If you’re working in an administrative role, can you widen your role to support other members of the team rather than just C-Suite executives? You could ask to be actively involved in business development plans – doing what you can to help build new business opportunities. In our view, showing your value may strengthen your employment prospects. Not only will your existing employer do what they can to keep you, but prospective employers may be interested to hear how you’ve worked over the past few months.