The festive time of year is often a trigger for people to start reflecting upon their working lives and how they’re working for their lives. This doesn’t always mean looking for a new job, perhaps it's just about making an adjustment or two that would make life a bit easier to manage. Fewer hours, for example, or – how about this for a crazy idea – a career break!
In my previous life as an HR Manager, I lost count of the number of times people would wander tentatively into my office, pull up a chair and ask if I thought it would be OK if they asked about working a day less per week, or work from home, or could they maybe start their day a bit earlier or later to help with their childcare or commute?
(I bet you’re really envying my old job, aren’t you!)
More often than not, people were scared of making their voices heard; for simply coming out and asking for what they wanted. Either they didn’t know how to do it, or they thought they might be seen as a bit…difficult. So they’d talk themselves out of it, and off they’d shuffle again – not before asking me never to say a word to their manager.
If you’re in this position, consider that no reasonable employer would think less of you for putting forward an intelligent and thoughtfully written request that will benefit both you and their business. Writing is an extremely powerful tool that you can definitely use to help get what you want, as long as you use it well. So here are a few tips on how to harness the power of words in the workplace:
Research Part One: check your company’s small print
You know those company handbooks and contracts you’re given when you start a new job, but you never get round to actually reading? Well, dust them off and start from there. Most companies will have a flexible working policy – while we’re on the subject, flexible working isn't just for parents – and some will even have a policy on career breaks or sabbaticals, if you check. You can then reference the policy in your request.
If there are no policies, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask. Instead, check what the law says. Which brings me on to…
Research Part Two: check the legal small print
While there are no laws against asking for anything you might want at work, there are legal guidelines about how the requests should be made. Start by defining your request to yourself, then check some useful websites (www.acas.org is a good place to start) to see how it should lawfully be made. Flexible working requests, for example, need to be set out in a certain style and with full reference to how your proposed new way of working will benefit the business.
Become your own spin-doctor
When making working requests, a lot of people focus on why their proposed change will be good for them, but neglect the company, making it far easier to end up with a refusal.
Take some time to think about how, if your request was granted, it would benefit your team and the business as a whole. For example, you’d feel happier and more motivated…so might that also be good for team morale? If you worked one day less per week, could you use some of that time to upskill yourself so you perform even better in your role when you’re there? If you’re changing hours, are you going to be able to get more done by coming in when it’s a bit quieter? You need to reassure your company that granting your request isn’t going to cause them any issues; in fact, that they’d be mad not to grant it!
One of the most rewarding pieces of work I’ve done since becoming a writer is helping a client succeed in getting a sabbatical from his employer. He desperately needed some time out from his job to concentrate on a personal project, but didn’t have a clue to go about asking. By following all the steps above, we came up with a compelling written case for his manager to consider…and he ended up getting that sabbatical!
If you need any help with writing for work (or for that matter, anything else!) why not contact me?
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
There's a lot of vague career advice out there, so if you're looking for insight that goes beyond "be yourself and follow your passion" you may have to leap before you look!Read more
Standing up and presenting to a group of people is something that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most confident people - so if you're an introvert like me, it can really be the stuff of nightmares! Here's how I tackle my nerves head-on, with some careful preparation and relatable content.Read more
You don't have to be a professional writer to discover a unique writing voice that speaks to its readers. Finding your own voice is often easier than you might think, and it all starts when you write from the heart.Read more
I'm a 'Success Story'! My career change journey was featured on Careershifters' website this week, and I'm incredibly proud of it. But I wouldn't want anybody to think changing my career has been easy. And so this is a reflection of sorts, on where I was when I began, and how I've ended up where I am now.Read more
Did you know that so-called 'job-hopping' can be an asset to your career search? Whether you prefer stability or excitement in your career, planning your next move is all about packaging your skills and making the right kind of approach.Read more
Are you reading this over coffee, or maybe as you wait for a late train? Blogging for business is a handy way to keep in regular contact with your followers and show them the human side of your company, but it can be difficult to keep it going once you've started. It's worth it, though - so here are a few tips to keep your blog posts consistent and entertaining.Read more
Writing a CV is tough enough when you've got years of experience under your belt, but when you're just leaving education it often feels like you haven't got anything to shout about. Here's how to write a first CV that will stand out from all those bland lists of education dates and shop jobs!Read more
There's a new trend sweeping Silicon Valley - giving honest and direct feedback to your colleagues. Before you go rushing in, focus your message by writing it down first...your colleagues and your career will thank you for it!Read more
All those celebrated business gurus had to start somewhere...and the most successful ones know how to tell their stories in a relatable way that inspires others to act on their dreams and ideas. By writing a business book, you can do just that yourself!Read more
Writing a recruitment ad is often a rushed activity, with the words used ones you've read many times before ("dynamic" anyone?) Here's how the Banks children managed to recruit their ideal candidate - Mary Poppins! - by using clear and creative words that stood out.Read more
'Greatest Hits' countdowns are rife at this time of year - so now, here's one featuring the best CV advice. This list will give you the ultimate steer if you're looking to get your CV on track for the new year job hunt. Wishing you a very happy 2017!Read more
If you're stuck in a job you don't particularly like, mindlessly searching job boards for something else, it can be hard to dredge up any enthusiasm to make a change. But that little bit of rest time between Christmas and a brand new year beginning is perfect for considering exactly what you want, and how to take the very first step towards making 2017 your happy work year!Read more
With a new year on the horizon, why not make a resolution to tell your life story? Committing your personal tales to paper can be a rich and rewarding experience for you to write and others to read...for generations to come. Here's how to get started.Read more
Have you ever thought that making a few tweaks to your working life would help make living it much easier? Harness the power of well-chosen words to state your case and win better work-life balance in the process.Read more
Is time getting the better of you? With a growing business, several passion projects on the go, books to read and friends I'd quite like to see, I was starting to feel overwhelmed...until I decided to take a closer look at planning my time more effectively. Here's how you can do the same.Read more
BOO! Like a ripe pumpkin Hallowe'en has rolled around yet again, so what better time to extol the benefits of ghostwriting, definitely not just the province of bargain-bin bound celebrities.Read more
Everybody's busy these days - far too busy to read all the words that come their way. Get the right people to read YOURS by honing in on your ideal audience and creating compelling copy that will get them hooked.Read more
Are your online profiles a bit lacklustre? Don't waste a perfect opportunity to speak directly to the boss or partner of your dreams - use the power of personal copywriting to describe what makes you, you - and get ready to reap the rewards!Read more
Going it alone, releasing yourself from the shackles of a traditional nine-to-five, is exhilarating. It's also incredibly scary! To celebrate my first quarter-year in business, here are some of the most important lessons I've learned from the front line.Read more
Great speeches vary in tone and content, but they all consider the same elements - who they're for, what they're about and why they're being heard. Here's how to plan yours effectively, so you can conquer any nerves and make your speech memorable for all the right reasons!Read more
Getting the tone of a letter right - especially when you're writing to someone you don't know - can be difficult. No matter whom you're writing to, here's how to get started on a letter that's relevant, informative and authentic.Read more