How to Create a Better Job for Yourself

Free Training Photo

This might mean that you must learn to get creative…or think outside the box…but you can use your current job to provide yourself with free training and new skills to beef up your resume in order to get a pay raise or better career position, or simply to enhance your present workplace and your relationships with your coworkers.

Here are some of the ideas I have used to successfully create a better job for myself:

I became a notary public in just a few hours online, and I did it with my boss’s permission — on company time!  He even let me pay for it on the company credit card because it would be so useful to him to have a notary on the premises.

Pitch Your Boss

The point here is to try to think of an idea you can pitch to your boss that will help him or her or the company, and therefore make you a more valuable employee.   You will have more job security and confidence, management will love you, and you can grow your resume for the future.

My most recent pitch to my boss was not for myself.  I learned that a coworker who is also a friend has a small hobby/side business that requires a lot of social media, so she is very experienced in that field.  We pay our advertising company an astronomical amount of money to have them manage our social media in addition to running our website and designing our ads.  Their contract is up next month.

I talked to my boss and presented my idea to save the company tons of money by having one of our own employees take over the social media portion of the advertising contract for next year.  We could even give my coworker a nice pay raise, but it would be SO much less than we currently spend.   The company would come out MUCH better off financially, and so would my friend.

Believe it or not, being kind and offering to help others can also be an opportunity for you to create a better job for yourself at work.  Because I volunteered to do extra work filling in for someone on maternity leave so that her boss could cope, when she decided not to come back to work after having her baby, the position was given to me…with a pay raise!

Look for Training Opportunities

Another potential way to improve your career options is to sign up for any relevant training programs offered by your employer  You can also find out if they would pay for certifications or classes.  By taking advantage of any learning opportunities available, you can become a more valuable asset to your company while also growing and improving yourself and your capacity to earn more money in the future.

For example, I learned of a fabulous program in my state offered by Workplace Development.  I discovered it through an email sent by our local Chamber of Commerce.  It is a grant offered by the state to pay for employees’ continuing education or to improve or build job skills.

I presented it to my boss and told him I would do all the work involved if he would let me apply for the grant.  (Full disclosure: If I’d realized how much work would be involved in the grant process, I’m not sure I would have been so eager to volunteer for this project!)

With the grant, I am getting approval for over a dozen of my coworkers and myself to take classes on company time for two hours, twice a week.  With our new knowledge and skills, we will then be able to get pay raises, but the company will benefit financially as we apply the new knowledge and skills.

For example, our maintenance staff will learn more intensive plumbing, air conditioning and electrical skills.  They will be able to do more of the big jobs that usually require hiring outside contractors.  Therefore, even with giving the maintenance staff pay raises, the company will come out ahead by saving money spent on contracted services.  Win-win!

For myself, I am taking accounting and Quickbooks classes so I can cover for our bookkeeper when she goes on vacation, rather than having to wait for her return every time she takes a few days off.  Perhaps one day, I’ll even want to change my career from administrative assistant to accounting. In the meantime, I have a pretty good thing going with the present job I created for myself.

Frame Your Idea in Positive Way

The first time I asked my boss if he had a few minutes to talk to me, I felt him cringe as he assumed I was going to ask for a raise.  (There was no money in the budget for that.)  I learned to ask instead, “Do you have a few minutes so I can run an idea by you?”  Now when I approach with a big grin asking if he has time to talk about a new idea, my boss is eager to hear what I have to say.

Have you ever pitched a new or creative idea to your boss that changed your job or experience?  Please share your ideas or comments!

Contributed by Deborah Shelby of Prayerful Mom.

Top Reasons to Provide a Catered Lunch for Your Employees

IMG_3047I know what you’re thinking! With the economy as bad as it is you’re probably asking yourself, “It’s an employer’s market, so why would I spend the extra money to give my employees a free lunch when I can pocket it instead?” and you know, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that. But you may also be costing yourself money in ways unseen.

Give a Boost to Employee Morale

When employee’s love their job and morale is high, employees feel the most loyal to the company they work for. This means the grass doesn’t look quite as green on the other side of the fence, and they stop looking for a job with better benefits or higher pay. This results in a lower turnover of your core workforce. When employees are good at what they do, they make you money, when they’re not, they cost you. If providing lunch everyday can boost employee morale and build company loyalty it may end up saving you money in the long run.
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Top 15 Business Building Quotes and Research

Companies that put an emphasis on employee happiness are rewarded. Every company has a culture that either supports or detracts from their productivity and bottom line. Figuring out how to create a more supportive culture should be at the top of every company’s “to do” list.

Here are some of the best quotes and research that I have on the importance of work happiness.
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Hire Happy People and Teach Them the Rest

happy-employeesWhen I first started this blog in 2008, I was  prone to depression. I literally felt like I had those huge ankle weights holding me down. Those days don’t happen very much any more. Over the years of studying work happiness, I’ve learned about life happiness, too.

I still feel sad like everyone else. No one can avoid sadness, but my sadness doesn’t last as long as it used to.

Core Happiness

The more work I’ve put into my core happiness, the more resilient I feel. When I fail, I don’t take it as hard as I used to. I shake it off and try something else. It’s this trait that all happy people seem to possess. They never let things bring them so far down that they just give up.

Just so we are clear, I’m not talking about hiring people who aren’t phased by failure. I’m talking about hiring the resilient people who can get knocked down and find a way to see a positive and build on it.
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How to Use Performance Reviews to Make Employees Happier at Work

dwight-reviewEditor’s Note: This is a guest post from Sean Conrad of the Halogen blog

A lot of employees and managers experience performance appraisals as a negative process. This is true even for employees who are generally good performers. At the core, the reason why we experience performance appraisals negatively is because we are being judged and rated by another.

But you could change the whole experience and improve the business value of performance appraisals simply by changing their focus. What if the goal of your performance appraisal process was to find way to encourage and inspire people to be happy at work and to be their best, rather than to critique, rate and rank them?

There are several things an individual manager or better yet an entire organization can do to make performance appraisals a positive experience that encourages and inspires:
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Freedom – Rehumanize Business Part 3

twitter-symbolWhen a business stops trying to control their employees, the employees begin to feel free at work. This freedom will allow them to feel more comfortable and happy.

Let’s say you have 50 employees who each have 100 Facebook and 100 Twitter friends. That’s 10,000 people that your employees are interacting with. They are talking about you to their friends.

What are they really saying?

Employee Outreach

You should be encouraging your employees to talk about their company, but never force them to use social media. Your employees will share the company’s story with their friends when you treat your employees like the superstars that they are.

This is where freedom comes in. If your people feel that they are free to do what is best for them and the company, they will use this freedom to make both themselves and the company happy.
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Unleash Employees’ Inner Creative Marketing Talents – Rehumanize Business Part 2

Zappos-interiorYou may have read that title and thought, “What does my company’s marketing have to do with work happiness?”

A lot.

70% of business is transacted because your friend told you about a product or service. You probably own an iPod because your friends wouldn’t stop raving about their iPod. You trust your friends to recommend good stuff.

Zappos let’s their employees Twitter on the job. They trust their people to connect with the customer.

I love Zappos, not because they have every kind of shoe on the planet, but because they ship for free, have a 360 day return policy and pay for shipping back to the company if you want to return a purchase. Now that’s worth spreading.

People want to share stuff that makes them happy. It’s up to companies to encourage their people to share their story.
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Work Happiness Tip – Tag Your Co-Worker

I posted on Twitter about the importance of rewarding your co-workers. I love Twitter, by the way. The ability to connect with fun, smart and quirky people is brilliant.

A friend on Twitter told me that she likes to create tags for her co-workers.

I asked her what she meant and she explained that she likes to give out random acts of kindness to the people she works with. She draws beautiful pictures on pricing tags. She sent me these photos so I could share them with you.
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The Secrets to Workplace Leadership

shh-leadershipI shared a drink with a friend who manages a team of five people. He was wondering how people’s moods can fluctuate in such a broad range, which affects the quality of their work. One of his employees is always up and down. He is engaged with his work one week and then he seems to lose interest. His interest fluctuates and he isn’t sure why.

We all have this problem it’s just that most of us force ourselves to stay focused. My friend told me that he has tried giving this employee various kinds of work to see what interests him, but that didn’t work either.

I asked him if he ever sits down with his staff to explain the reasoning behind the work.

He said he didn’t. He never really thought of that because it’s pretty obvious to him. They need to design websites that exceed the customer’s expectations.

He was losing out on a huge opportunity. People often stop looking at the larger picture because they get comfortable. This comfortable feeling reduces their desire to go above and beyond the normal effort.

A study at the University of Alberta showed that people need a sense of purpose in order to feel engaged with their work. A ‘Spirit at Work’ intervention program for a group of long-term health-care workers boosted morale and job retention. This program urged employees to rethink their job, which reduced absenteeism by 60% and turnover by 75%.

“We discovered that people who are able to find meaning and purpose in their work, and can see how they make a difference through that work, are healthier, happier and more productive employees,” said Val Kinjerski, a University of Alberta PhD graduate who co-authored the study.
- E-science news gathered this information from the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

By helping your people understand why they do what they do – you can increase happiness and productivity.

I’m going to give you a few ideas that might help your employees/coworkers to connect with their work.
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Team Building Activity – Hint – Colorful Balls

colorful-juggling-ballsJeff Sloan, co-founder of Start-up Nation, talked at a Microsoft conference about creating your own business. He is a serial entrepreneur of electronics and various other media.

Jeff and his brother were promoting one of their gadgets at a conference and they bumped into a woman who was juggling, so they started juggling with her. They got to talking with the woman and hashed out a distributorship to sell the juggling balls throughout North America.

Their juggling package was the number 1 item sold for Father’s Day back in 1992.

They positioned their product as “Stress Relief for the Busy Executive.” An item that has been around since the pyramids in Egypt was the best selling product for fathers in the US. Jeff was able to do this because of a relationship that he created with the department stores.
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