I work in a fairly physical job and have to lift things as part of it. I have several health issues in the past few months and have been trying to keep going, but have had to take a few days off. I am not sure how much longer I can go on in this job and I’m wondering if I could be redeployed within the company – it is quite large and has lots of different divisions. How do I approach my manager about this and what possibilities – if any – there might be?
Start by making an overview of what other kinds of roles you might be able to do in the organisation, focusing in particular on where you can add value and apply your skills usefully. Offer a positive reason for exploration – talk about looking for refreshment and career growth rather than a role which is less physically demanding.
Once you identify a couple of suitable roles, make some discreet enquiries about how people transfer inside the organisation. Someone will have done it before you.
Then speak to your manager with some concrete role ideas – ask for a transfer, redeployment, or a recommendation if you apply for something else entirely. This way the focus is on your skills, not your health. If the physical demands of the role come up, be straightforward and say you’d rather avoid them. After all, a lot of people seek work which is less physically demanding as they get older.
So, make the main reason for change what you can offer, not what you can’t do.
If you try a few angles like this and discover that no options open up for you, you might want to ask specifically for work which fits your health restrictions. Many employers have diversity policies which include flexibility around long-term health conditions. If you ask, and nothing suitable is offered, it might be a good time to look elsewhere.
*John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career strategists and author of 15 books on work and careers. How to Get a Job You Love (now in its eleventh edition) regularly tops the list of best-selling careers books by a British author and was twice selected as the WH Smith Business Book of the Month. www.johnleescareers.com