In addition to doing your job the best you can, you can boost your career opportunities by contributing a few extras to your overall workplace. Positive workplace contributions can include suggestions that improve the company’s external performance, and ideas that help improve internal working conditions. Knowing how you can contribute at workplace beyond your written job description can help you get noticed and advance sooner.
One way to improve your workplace is to offer to create or serve on committees that benefit the company and employees. Smaller companies without large budgets might benefit from the formation of a safety committee. Meetings with your insurance company, fire marshal and a security expert will provide you many low-cost or free ideas for improving employee and customer safety, helping reduce costs. Your company might not be thrilled with the idea of a union -- offering to serve on an employee committee to improve communications with management can help both parties by improving relations without an adversarial tone.
If an expert didn’t design your office, store, warehouse or other work space, volunteer to help create a more efficient workplace. Relocating offices, desks, storage rooms, in-store displays, aisles and copy machines can make it easier for people to get their work done. It can also encourage more interaction and idea exchanges. Don’t try to fake it -- meet with a workplace consultant or commercial work space designer, or find credible books and websites that provide information on designing optimal work spaces. Look into ergonomic equipment and furniture that can help reduce employee repetitive-stress injuries.
One of the easiest ways to make a positive contribution to your workplace is to avoid negative and destructive behaviors. Keep your work area neat and clean, even if you have a casual office environment and most people have cluttered desks. You’ll get noticed. Don’t gossip or even listen to it and let co-workers know you’d prefer not to be part of it. Show up early and don’t start packing up 10 minutes before the end of your day. If you use the break room or kitchen, clean up after yourself. Let others see you cleaning the coffee pot and defrosting the refrigerator, which might prompt them to think, “Why haven’t I done that?”
Green Your Space
Take the initiative to help your company protect the environment and reduce its expenses at the same time. Work with your gas and electric companies to learn how you can save money on more energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting. Many utility companies provide free, onsite energy audits. Start a recycling program and ask if any employees are interested in carpooling.
If you don’t have a human resource department at your company, volunteer to organize a monthly employee birthday party, distribute a company newsletter and arrange the company’s annual holiday party and company picnic. While management should choose the winners of an employee-of-the-month award, you can volunteer to get the wall plaque, add the names each month and communicate management’s guidelines for the awards.
The more you know about your industry, customers and marketplace, the more you can contribute. Even if you’re not a member of the marketing team, your insights can provide information they can use. A simple, “I recently read that some companies in our market are saving money by...” or “XYZ magazine said that in the next 18 months, our industry can expect…” can position you as someone who has value beyond your position.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.