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How to sustain the honeymoon phase at a new job

We asked a career expert how to keep the good vibes going with your current employer — and when to start looking for a new job

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The first day on a new job is full of possibility — especially if you’ve finally landed a job in an industry or organization where you hope to stay long-term. With new coworkers, new opportunities and new potential for growth, the honeymoon period at your new job can be one of the most rewarding periods of your career.

But what happens when the honeymoon ends? When new coworkers become jaded colleagues and new opportunities turn into a backlog of assignments, how can you maintain that sense of possibility and optimism that you had when you first arrived? Is it possible to get some of that new-job excitement back, even after a year or two of meetings and emails?

The answer, of course, is yes — but it’s going to take a little work.

That’s why we set up a Q&A with Laura Mills, Head of Early Career Insights at Forage. We asked Mills how to keep up workplace happiness at a new job, how to maintain good relationships with coworkers and how to seek out the kinds of opportunities that can make every day feel as exciting as your first day on the job.

We also asked Mills, who has been helping people build careers for over two decades, how you can choose the kind of workplace that is likely to be a good fit for you — not only today, but also as your career continues to grow.

Keep reading for her tips on how to maintain those good vibes as you settle into a new job.

In this article:

What differentiates a great place to work from a bad one?

A good workplace is broadly a workplace where employees feel comfortable, accepted, and empowered. These feelings of comfort, acceptance, and empowerment are achieved in varied ways according to each individual’s needs and preferences. Being in tune with your values and personal priorities is key to finding a “good workplace” for yourself.

If you want to identify workplace potential, ask questions! The hiring process is a time for you to interview companies, too. It is important that you consider what you want and need out of a workplace before you interview so that you come to the interview prepared to assess the potential of feeling accepted and empowered.

Some questions that can help you get intel on a company’s workplace and culture include:

If you want more information about company culture, read recent news articles, press releases, recent earnings reports or even customer reviews. These inputs can reveal a lot about a company and its values. You can also consult trusted third-party sources, like Glassdoor or Comparably, to see what past and current team members have to say about the company. Consider low scores or an influx of negative reviews a red flag.

You can also take advantage of the crowdsourced forums on Fishbowl, a career advice app that provides insight into current happenings indexed by company and industry. Use Fishbowl and your personal network to reach out to professionals that are currently or have recently worked for the company. What do they say about:

If you find yourself in a good workplace, what can you do to maximize your good experience?

Seek out mentors — you don’t have to rely solely on your hiring manager for support and coaching. Inquire if your company has a mentorship or buddy program. If they don’t, perhaps you could inspire them to start one.

Even if there isn’t a formal mentorship program, make sure you are taking steps to meet new people by attending events and setting up networking chats to introduce yourself and learn more about the leaders in your company. Peers are just as important in your network as leaders, so be sure to reach out to your peers to expand your lateral network.

Speak up and share your feedback. You were hired for many reasons, including the point of view you bring. New hires are sometimes reluctant to solicit or offer feedback, but doing so can go a long way to establish healthy working relationships  —  and, by extension, a happy work environment. “Stop, start, continue” is often a good entry point for swapping feedback, since each of you can outline a few things you’d like the other individual to stop doing, a few they should start, and a few they should continue.

If you find yourself in a less-than-good workplace, what can you do to turn things around?

Start by determining why you consider the workplace “less-than-good.” Some issues or pain points are more easily addressed than others. For instance, say you’re no longer enjoying the day-to-day duties of your role; perhaps that’s because you’re ready to take on new challenges and opportunities. That’s a conversation that could be worth having with your manager.

Ask for stretch opportunities to give yourself room to grow and demonstrate your potential. If you see something that needs improvement, speak up but be careful to bring forward potential solutions, not just point out the problem.

Choosing to leave a company is a big decision. If you’re completely out of lockstep with a company’s culture or values, then that is a time to consider looking for new opportunities. Bear in mind that you will want to do strong research on your next opportunity so that you can be sure to find a better fit for yourself and avoid a similar situation. Ask yourself what didn’t work and be sure that you are able to address that in your next role.

And if you choose to leave, be cognizant of how small the world is. You are likely to cross paths with your soon-to-be former colleagues, so give adequate notice and work hard until your final moments on the job.

What should you do at the one-year mark, the two-year mark and the five-year mark to ensure that you’re still making the most of a good work environment?

Celebrate! Ideally, your company will celebrate your anniversary with you. Consider those milestones a reminder for self-reflection.

What did you learn and accomplish in the past year and how can that translate into new growth and development goals? Is the company helping you meet them? Have you had major life changes or experiences causing what you valued in a company to change?

Has your company’s values or leadership changed and is it still a fit for you? Is everyone still committed to creating a positive work environment?

In other words, consider if you’re still aligned and happy in your role, and what can be done to improve your work-life balance, if anything. If your workplace is still a good fit, be sure to express your thanks for the support and growth along the way. If the fit is beginning to fail, then speak up and see if there is an opportunity to make changes to better align things for yourself.

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About Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, with a focus on personal finance and habit formation. In addition to Haven Life, her work regularly appears at Lifehacker, Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and Vox. Dieker spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money, and is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.

Read more by Nicole Dieker

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus

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