Standing up for yourself can be hard, no matter who you are. Executive-level employees can often feel pressured to take on too much and may feel burnt out. All workers can be susceptible to feelings of hesitancy when it comes to reporting unsafe working conditions or other disturbing situations.
However, speaking up, even in uncertainty, can bring more than just peace of mind. Speaking up could save a life, prevent an injury, or help keep you engaged with your current job. Below are five reasons why speaking up at work, as a worker, is one of your most important responsibilities to yourself and the company.
Prevention of Injury or Illness
Reporting anything you feel is unsafe or you know is against policy can help protect you, your fellow workers, and the business you work for. In 2018 alone, non-fatal workplace accidents rose by 2%. Many of these accidents may have been preventable. Even illness in the office could be less likely to spread if the proper precautions are taken.
Many industries have federal, state, or local standards for safety. By that same token, many businesses realize the importance of taking these safety standards seriously. Enough, however, either don’t take these policies as seriously as they need to be taken or don’t enforce them. If you feel like some aspect of your workplace is unsafe, it’s important to speak up to make sure you have safe working conditions for workers like yourself.
Burnout is Inevitable
There are two cases where you need to stand up for yourself to avoid burnout. In the first case, you may be asked to put in a lot of overtime or take on shifts or responsibilities you had not signed up for. Too much work or lack of clarity when it comes to responsibilities are two of the leading cause of burnout.
In the second case, you need a vacation. No matter how hectic things at work may seem to you, most businesses and organizations expect you to use your vacation days when you need them. As long as you give enough notice, taking a vacation should never be a problem.
Taking a break or saying “no” to extra work can be life-saving. Burnt-out employees are 23% more likely to visit the emergency room. Neglecting self-care leads to a lack of attention at work, potential illness, and if you are feeling the effects of burnout, you may be less likely to stand up for your other rights as a worker. While it may not be comfortable to admit you need a break or to ask for one, it’s one of the first basic rights you need to stand up for to maintain both your health and workplace productivity.
You’re Out of Your Depth
While a challenge can help you grow, many things require proper training or experience to do well or quickly. If you feel overwhelmed or like you’re not getting the information you need to do your job, asking for help should improve the success of the project and take a significant burden off of your shoulders.
Asking for help can bring up concerns that it makes you seem incompetent. You might feel like you wouldn’t be assigned a project if someone wasn’t sure you could do it. However, asking for help or clarity when you need it, especially if you feel like something is missing, is often seen as a positive trait.
The O.C. Tanner Institute revealed in their Great Work Study that people that asked for help from more varied individuals were more likely to be recognized as top performers or attain awards or high-level positions. Information gathering, even if you’re only a little unsure, can help you do better work.
Raises, promotions, and incorrect paychecks are all big reasons to stand up for yourself at work. You deserve to be fairly compensated for what you bring to the table. If, for whatever reason, you feel like you are getting less than you should it’s important to start a conversation at your workplace. In many cases, pointing out a discrepancy in your paycheck can save you and your employer a lot of time and grief down the road as it’s easy to accounting errors to compound over time.
When Something Feels Wrong
Trusting your emotions and intuition isn’t a bad thing. In the ideal company culture, all employees should feel respected, valued, and safe. If something is causing you to feel like all of these goals are not met, say something. If you feel an emotional response to a given situation, chances are you aren’t the only one.
Always be polite and as tactful as possible. If you have any evidence, be sure to bring it up. Take time to collect your thoughts before any meetings with HR, your boss, or coworkers. If you can do these things, your concerns will likely be taken seriously and something can be done to abate them at the very least.
Standing Up for Yourself Leads to a Healthier Work-Life Balance
Standing up for yourself in the workplace, no matter how hard it is to do, can create an environment where you can better tolerate your workplace and may even enjoy your work more. Not only that but in some cases, it can mean greater self-confidence and peace overall.
Speaking up at work, as a worker, is also about the business you work for. Businesses rely on the people that work there to help develop a positive company culture and work environment. Your attention, insight, and feedback could be invaluable.
Author Bio: Susan Ranford is an expert on career coaching. business advice. and workplace rights – strategics360.com. She has written for New York Jobs. IAmWire. and ZipJob.