“My door is always open,” says your boss on a regular basis. And, yes, so it is (metaphorically, at least). But approaching that door and having the conversation you’ve been replaying in your mind for months on end seems like an impossible task. What will he say? What will go wrong? Will I be sacked? Why should I reach out to my employer?
You’re not alone if you feel this way. Approaching employers can be a nerve-wracking experience, no matter how big or small the company. If you’re a sole trader, you might even feel uncomfortable reaching out to yourself!
In reality, reaching out to your employers will be one of the most relieving – and often rewarding – processes you’ll go through in the world of work. The likelihood is you’ve done it already, at least once, and I bet you remember that feeling afterwards: one of elation, or the gently warming sensation of all fear draining from your body. It’s nice, isn’t it? And you wouldn’t have felt it if you hadn’t approached your employers.
Your bosses aren’t flesh-eating zombies. They’re not going to tear you apart. Like you, they’re human beings and are duty-bound to have both your and the company’s best interests at heart. Even the most challenging of bosses can be tamed, and if you play your cards right, you’ll get what you want when you reach out to them.
In this article, I’m going to dig into five reasons you should reach out to your employers. By the end of it, you’ll already be heading to that office.
See Also: 4 Types of Terrible Bosses From History
1. You Have a Great Idea
Not all great ideas come from the top. Some of the brightest and most successful businesses in the world have relied on their staff to move their products and services forward.
Time for a real-world example. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ll be familiar with the “rubber banding” effect which takes place when you scroll to the top or bottom of a webpage – the user interface will quickly bounce satisfactorily back into place to confirm you have reached the start or end of the page. It’s brilliant and entirely intrinsic from a user’s perspective.
Who had the idea, though? Steve Jobs? Jony Ive? Nope, it was graphic designer Bas Ording. Only it very nearly didn’t happen at all, if Walter Isaacson’s biography on Jobs is to be believed. The former Apple CEO discovered Ording’s idea during a brief encounter at Apple’s headquarters.
Ording was lucky. Imagine if that chance encounter hadn’t taken place. Would he have approached his employers? Would you?
2. Mentioning the 'S' Word Isn't a Crime
Earning a salary is the end result of your weekly or monthly commitment to your employers’ business. You may be well paid. Equally, you may have an inkling that you are underpaid. Whatever your situation, reaching out to your employers with the intention of discussing your salary should not be feared and you have every right to do so.
Timing is everything with salary discussions. If you’ve recently had a satisfactory rise, don’t go asking again until you have a legitimate reason for doing so. Often, that will be an increase in responsibilities or a significant change in the market in which you operate. However, if you’ve received a rise but it isn’t what you believe to be fair, tackle it as soon as possible. Speak to your employer – the longer you leave it, the longer you’ll prolong the agony and, most importantly, be sat potentially on the wrong wage.
There are a number of superb online salary checkers you can use to see if you’re being paid correctly. Don’t take the result at face value, though. Conduct as much research as you can before you go knocking on your employer’s door.
3. Your Personal Life Is Forcing You To
Sometimes things go wrong. When that happens at home, your work life can suffer. Marriage breakups, problems with kids… even a particularly tough game of Sunday league football might have left you feeling battered and bruised (sometimes literally). If that’s the case, and if you start to feel it impacting your ability to carry out the job you’re paid to do, you need to reach out to your employers.
Not doing so could result in disciplinary action or you being ostracised and things will only get worse from that point onwards. If you’re already feeling down or stressed because of the situation at home, the added obstacles of an angry boss and colleagues frustrated by your dip in performance will only make you feel worse.
Your employers aren’t counsellors but they do have a duty of care and support for those working beneath them. Most will want to know if something is wrong, and it’s important you get there first. No one wants an awkward and untimely conversation over lunch with others present, after all.
Make sure you tell your boss why you’re acting the way you are. They may be able to help and you’ll feel better for doing so.
4. The Business Needs Your Help
You’ve spotted something within the business which isn’t right. There’s a significant number of customers leaving, or the team you work within simply isn’t gelling. Whatever it is, you’re confident the resulting impact on the business is serious and someone needs to know. Most important is the impact it will have on you personally and professionally. Any issue at work which affects your wellbeing and chance to further your career needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Guess what? There’s only one way to do that, and that’s to reach out to your employer.
Your employers, if they are worth working for, will listen to your observation. If you’ve done your homework and if you’re not being unreasonably critical or nitpicking, they’ll thank you for coming forward. That won’t happen if you decide against approaching them. Sounds obvious? It’s a fact which is easy to forget if you fear doing so in the first place.
What happens next is often the best part of the story. You magically transform from unassuming employee to company saviour (a superhero, even!) and your employer will never forget that.
5. You're Being Bullied
In 2014, corporate consultancy firm VitalSmarts released their findings from a study which looked into workplace bullying. The statistics were alarming. Of the 2,283 people studied, 96% said they had experienced some form of bullying at work. That’s a colossal figure and if you’re in the midst of similar turmoil, a clear indication that you are anything but alone.
Suffering in silence is painful. By prolonging the agony, you’re not only letting the bully win but also damaging your future career prospects and likely taking your pain home with you, thus seeing a very real effect of it on your home life.
Bullies need stamping out of the workplace, just as they do in the classroom. By bullying you, they’ve crossed a boundary and broken company law and it is, therefore, imperative you reach out to your employers to seek support and a satisfactory resolution.
It’ll be a tough visit – particularly if the bully in question is seemingly favoured by your employer – but one which is essential to undertake. Like any issue at work, your boss will want to know about anything which is detrimental to your development and daily performance. Bullying is a horrible, cancerous thing, and if it’s happening to you, your employer needs to know about it.
So, we’ve established that your employers aren’t flesh-eating zombies. We’re confident they’ll listen to you if you turn up prepared and with all the facts to hand. We know they’ll want to be informed of any personal issues affecting your daily work. And, lo and behold, they may not flinch if you mention “salary”.
There you have it. There’s nothing to be afraid of when reaching out to your employers, is there? You can do it. Like anything, the key is prior preparation and planning. Only walk into that office or board room when you know exactly what you need to say.
If you’ve approached your employers and lived to tell the tale, why not share your experience in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with any family or friends who are facing a similar dilemma!