By Windy Tshepiso Maledu, Senior Behavioural Scientist at CoachHub
We’ve seen ‘working from home’ become part of our daily vocabulary, moved towards a hybrid approach of working from both our offices and our homes, and perhaps even changed career paths entirely, in what many term ‘the great resignation’.
A new year is always an opportunity to set new priorities and reflect on the year gone by. Forecasts are optimistic for 2022, with 86% of learning and development leaders anticipating growth for their businesses. With growth come opportunities, and that’s exciting for both the business and the workforce. Employees should be taking advantage of this moment to set themselves up for significant career development and solicit support from employers to maximise the opportunities.
A boost to employee skills is on the cards for 2022, with 64% of leaders planning to upskill and 50% aiming to reskill existing employees. Such a strategy signals putting an acute focus on a business’ people and nurturing their growth, rather than attracting new talent and training from zero. As an employee, this means moving beyond the ‘survival mode’ attitude of the last almost two years of economic instability and refocusing on climbing that ladder. This is a season to take charge of your performance reviews and set ambitious career goals. To set yourself up for career success 2022, create a learning plan, plan exactly what you want to learn and improve on things that scare you the most. The plan will enable you to identify and access development programmes that the employer is offering.
As women, we often neglect to express our expectations. We worry about appearing pushy or overstepping the mark, in a way that men rarely even consider. These feelings often manifest themselves when it comes to annual appraisals or pay reviews. Research indicates that 73% of women did not ask for a pay rise during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to 58% of men. The gender pay gap is not a new phenomenon, but the fact that it has become the status quo does not mean that it should be accepted. As businesses grow and provide more training opportunities, employees should be leveraging newfound experience in conversations with managers when it comes to pay rises, career growth and promotions.
A culture of showing gratitude, appreciation and recognition to employees must be cultivated. Giving recognition and showing appreciation to employees should become part of day-to-day work, as well as during those specific times like performance reviews. Posner and Kouzes coined this phenomenon to encourage the heart. It is important that all employees can access the support they need to be productive at work, regardless of job title or seniority. Democratising access to workplace support benefits not only helps individual workers, but the organisation as a whole, because happy employees are productive employees.
For example, in the last 18 months only 13% of leaders provided their staff with extra training to deal with uncertainty, despite 35% of employees struggling with wellbeing and a further 35% struggling with burnout. This gap demonstrates a significant disconnect between what employees are experiencing in their day-to-day roles and the types of assistance leaders are providing. As training and development budgets increase, employers can create a psychological safe environment for employees to speak up about the struggles they are facing or new ambitions they wish to set in motion. Creating an open dialogue in the workplace about wellbeing is an important step forward in ensuring that all employees are healthy, happy, and achieving their best in their jobs.
Taking things more slowly and focusing on wellbeing may seem like the antithesis of career success, in a world where striving to achieve feels like the top priority. However, racing to be the top achiever of your office is not sustainable, and in the long-term results in stress and burnout. The best way to set yourself up for career success in 2022 is to add carving out time for your health and wellbeing to your list of new year’s resolutions, as this will make you overall more effective in your career. And besides, who doesn’t love a great stress reliever at the end of a long day? Eat for energy and be intentional about how you switch off at the end of your day.
At the beginning of each day identify one target task or activity you want to accomplish. At the end of the day celebrate your progress on that task as well as other wins for the day. Take advantage of any service in your organisations that help enhance your overall well being. Do periodic stress awareness check-in´s. Research study in the UK indicates there is a direct correlation between wellbeing and productivity. Some of the benefits of workplace wellbeing include greater levels of energy, leading to higher output and few sick days. Increased creativity and problem-solving and increased motivation and attitude to work. To set yourself up for sustainable success in 2022, take advantage of learning opportunities, prioritise and manage your health and wellbeing.