Water Cooler September 2015 : Five signs that you may need job-related training

By Melany Hallam

QUESTION: I like to take job-related training. Answer options: YES/NO

It’s September and the kids are going back to school. Maybe it’s time for you to join them! Here are some signs that you might need to take some job-related training this year:

  1. You’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed at work

Ask yourself what’s causing the stress. Are you running so hard every day that you haven’t had time to stop and figure out how to get your job done more efficiently? Would it help to learn some new ways of doing your job so that you can keep up with demands of your clients and your boss? It may be something as simple as learning some advanced word processing or spreadsheet tricks that shave 20% off of a bunch of small tasks. That extra time saved can really add up and be put to better use on other projects.

  1. You’re not making enough money each month to pay your bills

The most obvious solution would be to find a job somewhere else that pays more. But you should also think about how to move into a higher-paying position with your current employer – or even just ask for a raise. Before you do either of these things, you’ll need to prove to your employer that you’re worth the investment. How do you do that? One way is to work on your skills and certifications through job-related training – prove that you’re self-motivated. If there’s nothing available locally, there’s plenty out there online (see a previous article on that here), including shorter certificates such as first-aid courses, FoodSafe, Serving it Right, WHMIS, and much more. You can earn a bit more each month by being a first-aid attendant for your company, for example. Or maybe you’re a part-time receptionist but you know that the bookkeeper needs some extra help at certain times of the year. How about asking your employer to pay for you to take a bookkeeping course – or at least arrange to give you some extra hours as a bookkeeper at a higher rate once you’ve taken the course? This will get you more pay and your employer doesn’t have to advertise for and train a new person – win-win! You just have to keep your eyes open for opportunities and show that you’re willing to put in the work.

3. You’re not getting along with your co-workers

Is it difficult to get anything done because someone you work with seems to delight in being uncooperative? I can hear the groans from here, but sometimes bringing someone in to your workplace (or going offsite) for a group team-building exercise can make a difference in how you relate to each other. Just a short time doing something non-work-related together can help co-workers see each other in a different light – as people who are all doing their best to deal with the same everyday problems. Building this kind of empathy can make for much smoother working relationship. You’ll see each other as people, not obstacles.

  1. You complain about your job all the time.

Try making a list of things that you like about your job right now. Maybe you don’t like some parts of your job – or even most of it. But say you work in a hardware store and you do like the time you spend working with your company’s suppliers. How can you spend more time doing that? By focussing on that part of your job, maybe you’ll discover an opportunity to do more of the work you love. For example, what if you found out that there’s some new supply-chain software coming out that will make the store more profitable – volunteer to do the training and teach it to others at the company. You could create your own position by becoming the expert in something, or get the training and experience needed to move into a new position altogether. But this will never happen if you’re only focussing on the things you hate about your job, rather than opportunities to do the things you like. Here’s an interesting take on that idea.

5. You’re feeling stuck in your job

If you’ve been in the same job for many years, the work may not be keeping up with your changing life priorities. What was important to you at age 22 won’t be the same as at age 32 or 42. If you’re at this point in your life, you may conclude that the only option is a complete career change. This is when education and training is particularly key. Maybe you’ve been toiling away in a government office but you really want to be a graphic designer. Or maybe you’ve been working in an industrial manufacturing job since you graduated from high school but you really want to be a chef. This kind of move will mean some major re-training. You can start small by taking evening and distance or online courses, talk to people in the industry to find out what’s involved or required, and even do a little moonlighting while keeping your day job. It may be the best move you ever made.

All self-examination aside, it’s really eye-opening to look at training from the point of view of your employer. Maybe you’ve done the soul searching (figuring out what’s wrong) and the researching (how to fix what’s wrong), but you’re afraid to approach your boss to ask for either time off or money to take some courses. Take courage! In my research for this post, I found a lot of articles on why it’s important for companies to support their employees in ongoing training and skills upgrading. Here’s one such article here.

What it boils down to is that employers want to keep their employees for the long-term to avoid spending a huge amount of time and money hiring new staff, getting them up to speed, and supervising them. Employees who are supported and encouraged are more loyal, are less likely to require a lot of managing and, in the end, are more likely to dedicate themselves to the company’s success (read “profitability”). Your employer wants to help you because it’s in their own best interest to do so.

So do the soul-searching, do the research – and then show your employer how you want to help them by improving your knowledge, skills, or qualifications. Career Link can help with this, by helping you find information, such as this list of educational resources here, http://www.careerlinkbc.com/education.php. Good luck!

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