Karren Brady gives career advice from talking to your boss to post-lockdown work-life balance

APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham United FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she advises an NHS worker feeling failed by her bosses and trapped. She also shares her time management tips for post-lockdown work-life balance.

Q. I work on the NHS frontline, and while the public has shown us nothing but support during the pandemic, I feel the trust I work for has treated my colleagues and me terribly, even after 20 years working for them.

I am really unhappy and in need of a change. I don’t mind taking a demotion, but I keep getting turned down for roles because I’m too experienced and overqualified.

I don’t know which way to turn and feel trapped in a job I used to love. How can I move forward?

Rebecca, via email

A. First, thank you for all your efforts and selflessness working for the NHS during an incredibly difficult 18 months. It is very sad that you don’t feel appreciated by the trust you work so hard for.

Have you had conversations with your senior management about where you feel you and your colleagues are being failed, and what you would suggest can be done to remedy these issues?

If you have had those honest discussions but they haven’t led to constructive steps forward, and you are becoming increasingly unhappy, then it’s time to make a positive change for yourself and your mental health.

If you don’t mind doing a more junior role, you need to communicate in your applications that you are intentionally applying for these positions as you do not feel fulfilled in your current job and that you are happy to take the cut in salary that comes with this.

You don’t have to go into detail, but being transparent from the off – and explaining the positives you can bring thanks to your experience – should stand you in good stead. 


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Q. I’m struggling to find a balance between my job and life outside of work and constantly feel guilty about not being present or good enough.

While lockdown was hard, I could concentrate on just my work and my family and I felt like I flourished. But now my diary is filling up with client lunches and networking drinks, as well as weekends with friends and family, it’s making me anxious.

How can I continue to be good at my job but still have time for a social life?

Suzie, via email

A. Many people are feeling these kind of anxieties as life starts to go back to “normal”, so you are not alone. Lockdown forced us to slow down, but now life is opening up it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the commitments flooding our diaries.

While it’s great you can now go for client lunches and weekends away with friends, don’t forget the importance of allowing time for yourself. Most of us recognised the need for a routine during lockdown, so it’s key to keep one now we are getting busier again. Be strict with your working hours as far as possible, and make sure you’re finding time for a walk or to exercise each day.

Block out time in your diary for yourself – whether it’s two evenings a week, a Saturday, a whole weekend or a mix of all of these – then stick to this. It’s very easy to prioritise other people over yourself, but it is absolutely OK to say no to invitations or to postpone them to give you time for yourself.

By prioritising your mental health, you will be a better worker and a great friend!

Compiled by: Claire Frost

Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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