5 Ways to Improve Your Job

Instead of looking for new roles, more workers in this economy are trying to find ways to make their current job work.

In the recent past, the answer might have been to switch roles or firms. But with the number of available openings shrinking to 9.9 million—the lowest level in nearly two years—dissatisfied employees might have better luck trying to improve their own job.

“If you’re in a job and just have some basic frustrations, it’s best to put your head down and make it work,” says Dan Kaplan, a senior client partner for Korn Ferry's CHRO practice. He recommends figuring out what irritations are causing your unhappiness at work, then working to eliminate them.

Employees shouldn’t be shy about talking with their managers if they’re dissatisfied with their work, says Korn Ferry Advance coach Alyson Federico: “Since the pandemic, employees have more of an awareness that they can ask for something else—that they can dream of something different,” she says. Here are five ways to improve your current job.

Start with the positive.

Make a list of all the benefits your current job offers, suggests Korn Ferry Advance coach Sarah E. Williams. This might include the opportunity to work from home, the ability to collaborate with friendly colleagues, the chance to learn new skills, and the ability to afford a vacation and other luxuries. “Improving your current job starts with improving your mindset about it,” Williams says.

In addition, reflect on the benefits you might not have if you worked for a different company. This could include low insurance co-payments, EAP benefits, and reimbursement for mileage and cell-phone usage. “Focusing on what is working for you will put you in a state of gratitude which will flow into your work situation,” Williams says.

List what you don’t like.

Assess what you don’t like about your current role from three angles—your day-to-day activities, your interactions with team members, and how you feel about the overall organization and its culture, Federico says. “Once you figure out what you don’t like, then you can figure out how to change the situation and who you need to talk to about it,” she says.

Kaplan agrees that once you pinpoint your frustrations, you can try to eliminate them. For instance, he says, if the issue is your workload, identify the right person to work with to improve it. If you’re worried you’re not getting enough mentorship, seek out a mentor.

Network within the company.

Federico recently coached a client who liked the organization she was working at but was less excited about her team and her day-to-day role. Instead of quitting, she evaluated where she wanted to go. She actively networked with colleagues in another department—and was hired there. “You might not have to leave your company to find another job,” Federico says.

But while some companies encourage networking with other departments, Kaplan cautions, others frown on it. “It’s good to know where opportunities exist in the company, but if you’re seen as being too aggressive and too focused on your own internal needs, that may work against you,” he says.

Set boundaries.

If a heavy workload is what frustrates you about your current position, then think about the boundaries you need to put in place that will allow you both to succeed at your job and also take care of yourself, Federico says. For instance, do you need to tell your manager that you can’t take on a new project or an additional weekly meeting? “Understand what you need in order to be at your best at work, and communicate that to your manager and your team,” she says.

Share your goals with your manager.

Be open with your manager about your professional goals and aspirations, says Korn Ferry Advance coach Tiffinee Swanson. Work together to identify potential steps towards those goals as well as potential barriers. Ask your manager about ways you can grow within your current role. For instance, she says, find out if there are skills you need to develop to expand your role and whether there are more challenging tasks that you could take on in the future.

“Think about what you want to do next, as well as the skills and exposure it will require. In your current role, be very intentional about seeking out opportunities that will help you acquire that knowledge and set you up for success,” Williams says.


For more information, contact Korn Ferry Advance.