In series 1 of this article, we discussed on the tell-signs that you’re being under-utilised at work. You used to be highly productive at work, but suddenly, you notice that you have lesser service time and more downtime. You are no longer called to attend meetings. You find yourself surfing the Internet more at the office than working on something office-related. You’re barely receiving phone calls or emails. Even your boss apparently does not remember that you still exist as an employee.
If you have noticed most if not all of the above-mentioned situations happening,, then you might just be relegated to the under-utilised employee zone.
Before you press the panic button, it is wise to find out how you got there in the first place. Introspection should be your first reaction. Have you been amiss with certain responsibilities at work? Could this be the result of office politics? Has there been employee or company movement that you did not get the memo on?
Here are 3 things that you can take action on today:
1. Ask questions.
This is the only way for you to confirm any suspicions you may have. There is nothing wrong with asking about your status in your office and the status of your office per se. There may be something going on in the background that you are not aware of. Your company may be downsizing. There may be a realignment of groups within your department. Or your company may have been sold to a larger firm. Make an informal meeting with your superior to find out more. Your downtime may be closely tied to a larger issue within your company, and management is still biding its time before making its pronouncement. So as you can see, there may be a million and one reasons and the only effective way to find out is to ask.
2. Find new ways to be useful.
It may be possible that due to the enormous manpower in your workplace combined with the fast-paced environment, the current status of each and every employee may not be reaching management at all. You may be in between projects and management has yet to assign you a new task. Given the lull in your work, take the time to learn new skills so that you can repackage yourself and become eligible for other areas apart from the department you are currently in. Attend seminars on process improvement, enroll in short-term courses pertaining to technical writing, take lessons in photography, et al. Whatever that new skill set is, make sure that it is aligned with the company vision and goals. This way, you can surprise your boss by taking this initiative.
3. Be ready for anything.
The reasons behind your being under-utilised are endless. At best, it may be because you are being prepped for something substantial in your present workplace. The worst possible case scenario is that you are about to be let go. Such is the case in Singapore where layoffs rose by 20% to 15,580 due to the global economic slowdown in 2015. This downward turn is replicated in other countries like Canada and the U.S.
Whatever your present situation may be, take the opportunity to prepare for the worst. You may begin scouting for opportunities in other workplaces, or researching on lucrative businesses that you’ve been looking out for. If the situation does turn toward retrenchment, then at least you are prepared with a backup plan to still keep yourself employed and financially responsible.
Remember that being under-utilised is not the end of the world. It may just be the change that you need to refresh your career.