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Want to be happier at work? It’s time to set your terms

On the face of it, everything’s in place financially. You’ve found a financial planner you can trust, you have a plan in place, you’re saving and investing for the future, and you’re on track to retire earlier than the average person. 

If everything goes to plan, you’ll be taking dance classes, going on mid-week fishing trips, and enjoying regular cycling trips through Spain, while your body and mind still give you the freedom to do so. 

There’s just one problem… with 10 or 20 years left before you’re set to achieve your goal, you’re wondering how you’ll ever muster the willpower to keep working until then.

You’d like to go trekking in the Andes today, but once you’ve booked time off for dentist appointments, family responsibilities and an annual trip to the south of France, you have little leftover for big adventures. 

And you’re financially comfortable, sure, but once you’ve paid your mortgage and have saved and invested what you need to, it doesn’t feel like you have that much time left to play with. And so the hamster wheel continues. You keep going into work and dreaming of the future.

If this sounds familiar, it might be time to renegotiate the terms of your employment. Here are a few things you may need to re-evaluate.

Clocking out on time

Do you work in the type of environment where leaving your desk at 5pm is frowned upon?

Is sticking around for an extra couple of hours seen as a sign of dedication?

Someone needs to break this unhealthy cycle. If you’re unhappy with your work yet financially comfortable, that person may as well be you. Close your laptop at 5pm and go home. Unfortunately, culture is everything and if that’s what your boss really wants from you, maybe this isn’t the right job. You can present them with facts and figures that prove otherwise but if that’s their mindset, it won’t change. 

Better pay

You might argue what the job isn’t perfect and that, instead, you are being fairly compensated for your work. It’s a sad reality that loyalty doesn’t pay. Research suggests that those who stay in the same job for a long period of time experience slower wage growth than those who switch. Job hopping might not be your style, but your reluctance to switch companies could be costing you.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had a pay rise, now’s the time to negotiate your salary. Inflation is on the rise and The Bank of England warns it could reach 10% within months, so no positive change in your salary means you’ve effectively been given a pay cut. 

If you can increase your salary by more than 10%, you can reduce the impact of inflation have more money to spend on the things that matter to you. Maybe the only way to achieve this is by moving. And if so, that means everything is up for negotiation in your new job. 

Flexible working

Pre-pandemic, many business owners assumed that remote working would have a negative impact on productivity and profits. One good thing to come from Covid-19 is the realisation that for most companies, this fear was unfounded. 

Last month, Airbnb’s founder Brian Chesky announced a new commitment to flexibility. He tweeted: “Today, we’re announcing that Airbnb employees can live and work anywhere.”

He explained that going forward, employees can work from home or the office. They can move anywhere within the United States and travel to different countries for up to 90 days a year in each location. 

Other employers might be reluctant to make a change as drastic as Airbnb’s, but many businesses are embracing flexibility to some extent - even if it just means letting their team work from home one or two days each week.

Rather than waiting until retirement to visit the destinations on your bucket list, get started now. 

Remind your employer of the benefits that remote work brings, and you could be spending your Fridays working on a beach in Portugal one week and a cafe in Nice the next. Or, again, these could be new items on the table in any negotiation for a new job. 

Regular sabbaticals

Don’t stop at work-from-home days. Aim high and push your employer for occasional sabbaticals too. 

It can be hard to change the culture at work. Your line manager might say: “HR says no. If we give you six weeks unpaid leave every 36 months, it will set a precedent.”

But maybe this is a precedent they should set. 

Free fruit, gym membership and a cycle to work scheme might once have seemed exciting but are they of real value to you? These things don’t move the needle whereas sabbaticals can change people.

The pandemic has changed things to such an extent that employers now have to try harder to attract and retain staff.  And letting team members run away to Barbados every so often could be good for business. Especially, if it’s time to achieve something that can only be done with six weeks away from your desk. An Atlantic row or language submersion course. They don’t even have to pay you during your trip. They just have to promise a job will be there on your return. Factor the 20% they’ll have to pay to a recruitment consultant to replace you and they will find it makes business sense to let you fly your kite. 

Helping you to negotiate 

If you’re eager to negotiate but you have no idea what to say, we can help. As part of our Momentum service, we often draft letters to employers on our clients’ behalf. We’ll help you negotiate the terms you deserve. 

If your boss won’t budge, keep your terms in mind next time a recruitment consultant calls.

If they really want you and your unique skill set, you’ll get your pay rise, work-from-home days and occasional sabbatical, without you having to be chained to your desk after 5pm. 

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