Be it the stressful commute, endless report writing or office politics, we've all got a few things we'd like to change at work.
But before you succumb to the urge to walk out over pay issues, or take a brick to your computer screen just to stop all the emails, let us help.
We've rounded up the most effective and useful advice to ease the pain of 10 common work complaints. Ready to take a deep breath?
1. Report writing
If you find writing weekly or daily reports a hard and slow slog, it’s a good idea to adopt a universal template. Asking your boss - or whoever you’re reporting to - for their preferred format is ideal, but this simple three-part technique should also work well.
- In part one, outline what the key goals were ahead of the time frame.
- Part two should then explain if those goals were met and how, along with any specific details such as statistics.
- To finish-up, simply summarise what has been achieved, and what the next set of goals will be.
If you stick to the template and tackle one part at a time, you’ll find yourself moving through the report far easier, with less chance of losing direction in the middle. As you move forward, the last part of one report should also help you form the first part of the next, speeding things up again.
2. Office politics
At best, office politics can be complicated, and at worst, it's messy. The trick is to recognise the power struggles or conflicts at play, without getting embroiled in them yourself. Once you’re aware of the various relationships or potential tensions between team members, tread carefully, while remaining professional, polite and firm where needed.
If you’re clear about your intentions and the way you like to operate at work from the start, e.g. free of games and with professional transparency, you're less likely to find yourself at the centre of an office stand-off.
3. Working hours
If the 9-5 isn’t working for you, talk to your boss about potential alternatives that will allow you to still complete your work, but on a schedule that’s kinder to your lifestyle. There’s now plenty of evidence that more flexible working hours reap productivity, and can benefit businesses in numerous ways.
If set hours are non-negotiable however, then make sure you commit to leaving on time - studies have found that staying late and burning the midnight oil can trigger health problems from stroke and heart disease to depression. So work smarter through the day, and clock off when you’re supposed to.
4. The commute
Whether it’s the stress of rush hour or the boredom of a lengthy journey, the commute bookending each work day can make or break your mood. So instead of allowing it to be a complete time-eater, swap mindless game apps for something more rewarding. Try mindful meditation if you tend to get stressed, apps that serve as writing platforms if you’ve always wanted to write a novel, or curated playlists that’ll help you discover new music. Then of course, there are podcasts and personalised reading recommendations.
Changing up the journey can help too. Are you able to cycle or walk a part of the way if you allow yourself an extra 20 minutes? Switching routes will break the monotony, and fresh air can do wonders for your mind and stress levels.
5. Sitting down all day
Up there with the war on sugar, sitting down all day is now thought to have disastrous consequences on your longterm health. The NHS reports that studies have linked excessive sitting with obesity, type 2 diabetes and even some types of cancer. In the short term, it’ll also leave you feeling lethargic and less productive.
Combat the problem by taking advantage of your lunch break to get out for a walk, take regular breaks where you can to move around for a few minutes, and try to fit exercise in and around your work day. A standing desk can help too, if your office is able to accommodate it, as will swapping meeting rooms for ‘walking meetings’ where appropriate.
6. Not feeling valued
If you’re feeling undervalued at work, or that your efforts are failing to be recognised, it’s time to start blowing your own trumpet. Studies have revealed that women are far less likely to flag up their own achievements in the workplace than men, which can in turn affect promotion opportunities.
Start by dropping your boss an email at the end of the week, summing up a few of your key achievements. If you have a breakthrough on a project or bring in a great new client, flag that up too. The more you voice your own success, the more others will take notice.
7. Endless emails
If a busy inbox distracts you from getting things done and interrupts your workflow, you need to set some email boundaries. “Checking each message as it comes is hugely inefficient,” explains Dr Emma Russell, an occupational psychologist at Kingston University.
“If email interruptions are impacting your work, set aside 30 minutes between two and five times a day to devote to emails and stick to that routine. Turn off notifications otherwise.”
8. Being micromanaged
Having your boss breathing down your neck is enough to stifle anyone, and can make getting things done more difficult. Micromanagement usually stems from a fear of handing over control, so try to help your manager see that you’re capable of handling things alone, by dropping them a note with regular updates about how a particular task or project is developing.
Highlight the positive things you’ve done, and demonstrate that you have things in hand. Once you’ve built up the trust, politely asking for extra space to get things done more quickly should be much easier.
9. No path for progression
If there is no clear path for progression at your company, it’s worth arranging a meeting with your boss to discuss what your options may be. Once they know you’re looking for growth, they may be able to advise on various ways in which your current role can be developed, or different directions in which you may be able to move.
If there really isn’t room for growth, an understanding manager may even recommend you for roles elsewhere.
10. The pay
If you feel you’re not being paid enough for what you do, or that a previously discussed pay rise is overdue, you need to speak up. Ann Pickering, HR Director at O2, suggests scheduling a meeting with your boss, and then clearly demonstrating to them your value within the team, the benefits you bring to the business as a whole, plus several examples of where you’ve gone above and beyond to deliver.
Ask the question, and give clear evidence of why you believe you deserve the raise.