11 Tips To Excel At Work This Year

Have you set your goals for 2019 yet?  I’m sure everybody has at least some, right?  Do your goals include any that tie to your career?  Do you really have what it takes to excel at work?

excel at work
Truly show up and engage at meetings. This is one way to excel at work this year.

The Importance Of Success At Work

Success at your job is key to a happy and prosperous life, right?  Some will tell you that working less is the key to a longer life.  Others will say working additional years helps you live longer.  Whatever you believe, there’s one thing we can all agree on:  Being happy at work is important.  Happiness can come from being more productive.  Here are some tips to excel at work this year.

Read more11 Tips To Excel At Work This Year

I’ll Be Changing Companies But Not Jobs

Sometime in the next couple of months I’ll be working for a different company.  Yet, I’ll still be coming to the same place, going to the same desk, and performing the same job.  So, what gives?

Our work is being ‘insourced’.

I work for a health care provider.  Sometime in the early-to-mid 2000’s, they outsourced most of their IT functions between two different companies.  One company specialized in the infrastructure (network, servers, PC, phones), and the other was dedicated to the application systems that were used throughout the environment.

I work in infrastructure, and I started here in 2006. I was actually hired by that company in 2007, as it’s their standard practice to hire you first as a contractor before eventually bringing you on.  So, yes, for awhile I was essentially a contractor of a contractor.

At the time, the outsourcing made a lot of sense.  The IT area here was growing by leaps and bounds, and they didn’t have the structure or knowledge in place to grow it properly.  The two companies offered more standard practices, a wealth of knowledge from other parts of their respective companies that could be called upon when needed, and quite a bit more.  So, for many years, the outsourcing premiums were justified.  Our IT functions are now nationally recognized within the health care space.

Over the past couple of years, though, the organization has made some significant changes that have led to a lot of this work being streamlined.  Due to a variety of factors, the leadership of the organization decided that IT was now in a state where bringing the work and the jobs back in house would save a great deal of money, and felt that the organization was structured and stable such that this would still allow for success.

As a result, most of the infrastructure jobs will be brought back in house.  So, instead of working for the company I was working for, I will be working directly for the health care organization.  On the infrastructure side, there aren’t a lot of other local clients of our size that we support to this degree, so we won’t be transferred to another account, and since the organization we support has indicated they want to keep the same structure, they’ll simply be moving most or all of us over.

What does all this mean?  There’s a lot of things we know, but a lot we don’t.  Here’s a rundown:

  • mb-201310deskJob title and function – As I’ve alluded to, the plan so far is to simply keep most people in their same jobs with the same title and the same function.  There are always changes going on within the organization, so while some shuffling could happen, it probably wouldn’t be directly tied to any insourcing activities.  There is some risk on the applications side, as a number of positions on that side are expected to become unnecessary as some systems currently in rollout are brought online, but the impact to the infrastructure side is expected to be minimal.  Which is good news for me.
  • Pay – We haven’t heard any details, but the message so far has been that if you are moved over and are doing the same job, it’s not unreasonable to think that your pay would stay the same, unless you’re way above or below industry averages.  I keep pretty good track and I know I’m within the norm, so I’m hoping that they don’t make cuts.  Even so, this would save money for each employee brought over as they’re no longer paying a ‘premium’ that was likely in place.
  • Health care – Early review of the benefits plan indicate that my health care should not cost anymore than it does today, but that I’ll have better coverage.  Last year, I switched to a High Deductible Plan.  They don’t even offer that here, but the offering I would likely take would be very good coverage.
  • Health Savings Account – With having participated in a HDHP plan in 2013, we started an HSA to pay for the costs.  So far, our costs have been minimal, so we have built a balance of over $1,000.  We will no longer be able to contribute to this cost, but if we choose we can continue to pay for any medical costs until it’s drawn down, or we can keep it aside for costs later down the road.
  • Time off – One of the things that we haven’t been given details yet is how our years of service will carry over.  Even though I’ve received pay from other companies, the fact is that I’ve spent every working day for the last 7+ years supporting this organization.  They recognize that and have said that we’ll be credited for some or all of our service time, though they haven’t released any detail.  I will either get 4 weeks or 5 weeks of time off.  Five weeks is what I currently receive, so I’m hoping that this remains true.  It will also likely involve a bit more planning on my part, since my current employer lets us carry some time over from year to year, so I always have time available.  After the transition, we’ll be starting from zero, so I’ll have to more carefully track my vacation, since you accrue time as you work.
  • Pay frequency – We’ll go from a twice-per-month pay system to an every-other-week system.  If my compensation remains the same, I’ll get the same amount over the course of a year, but it will be 26 paychecks slightly smaller than the current 24.  I have a budgeting system that’s been pretty well tuned to the 24 paychecks, so I’ll have to do some tweaking.
  • Retirement – Right now we receive no matching to our retirement contributions.  This should change.  If my review of the documents is correct, I’d now get a 3% employer contribution toward my retirement, which would be excellent news.
  • Opportunity – I’m in project management, and because there are two companies as I described above, there are two separate project management structures, one for infrastructure and one for applications.  Projects are split along those lines, with some projects having two project managers if they require work from both sides.  This can get confusing and it limits your exposure and what you can really work on.  With everybody becoming employees of the system, this structure wouldn’t make a lot of sense, and the idea is that project managers will eventually be part of one organization, and that the project managers would be expected to handle both infrastructure and applications sides of projects.  This would give me more knowledge, more experience, and definitely open new pathways and opportunities within my field.

Overall, I’m pretty excited about the move, so long as they don’t spring anything crazy on us, like a pay cut as part of the transition.  All I know is that with every job I’ve been at, the one thing you can count on never changing is that change will happen.  And, that’s definitely holding true.

Readers, have you ever been part of this type of arrangement or something similar, maybe from a merger or acquisition?  How did it all turn out?

So Much For That Idea!

Last Wednesday, I posted all about how I wasn’t going to get a new laptop at work because it would make me see how old all of my other computers are.

So much for that idea.

That afternoon, one of the desktop guys was walking around, stopped by my desk and said ‘Oh, your new PC is ready.’

At first I thought they were reading Money Beagle and were somehow messing with me, but it turns out that they’re replacing all of the computers in the IT department that were of the same model I had.

So far, the new computer sucks!  It’s slower, heavier, and has less capabilities.


I wish.

The computer is awesome.  As I knew it would be!

Why I Haven’t Requested A New Work Laptop

When I started at my current job in July 2006, I was issued a brand new Dell laptop. It wasn’t top of the line but it was a middle of the road offering at the top.

In 2009, I got a memory upgrade which helped speed it along a little bit, though by that time, it was already starting to show it’s age.

mb-201105laptopNow, as it nears it’s five year ‘birthday’, I’m still sticking with it.  My employer doesn’t have a formal refresh program for the IT group, so you request a new computer when yours stops working or has problems.

I know that I would qualify for a refresh.  It’s gotten to that point where it takes about ten minutes from powering on to be able to do anything with it, and the support staff probably wouldn’t want to put the effort into re-imaging it.  The wireless network card works sporadically, and often times will hang various parts of the computer for about ten minutes at a time when turned on.  The corner of the case has a crack in it.  The battery wears out about every 18-24 months, and the current one is on its last legs.  In other words, to bring it back up to snuff probably wouldn’t be worth the cost, so there’s definitely justification in asking for a new one.

But I haven’t.

Why, you ask?

Simply put, because the new one would be REALLY fast.  It would do a LOT of cool things.  It would RAISE the bar on what I want and expect out of a computer.

How can that be bad, you ask?

Well, the answer ties back to my home computer.  The home computer is also a Dell.  It’s a desktop version.  It actually is about six years old, but because it’s a desktop (with more robust equipment) and it was top-of-the-line at the time, it actually runs better than the ‘newer’ work laptop.

Still, I know that if I get a new work laptop that my perception will change on the desktop at home.  It will seem more slow, even if the speed doesn’t change.  It will seem more limited in what it can and can’t do, even though it’s fine for what I need it for today.  Simply put, it will be more tempting to replace it, even though I’m pretty much OK with it as it stands.

I have said that my goal with the work laptop is to reach five years.  That will happen in July.  If it really does continue to add problems, it will impede my work, but if it stays the same, I’m not sure yet if I will request a new one or not.

Economies of Scale In The Shared Work Kitchen

As many of you surely do, I take advantage of the free coffee provided by my company in the shared kitchen.

One thing I don’t take advantage of is the powdered creamer.  I realized quite a while ago that:

  • It doesn’t taste good
  • It was probably giving me cancer (seriously, check out the ingredients list on that stuff….)

So, I started bringing in my own half and half.

I’ve noticed, over time, that others have started doing the same thing.  Luckily, we don’t have the problem that many offices have, where stuff gets stolen.  I usually write my name on the carton and I’ve never noticed it getting moved or an amount that would suggest that someone is taking what’s not their.

So, that’s good.

I’ve noticed that others appear to be doing the same thing, as there are typically at least three other containers on the shelf.

It made me wonder whether there might be an opportunity to collaborate, and of course save some money, for surely the smaller cartons that we’re all bringing in cost more than we would pay for a bigger carton.

Good old economies of scale, right?  (Can you tell that I was an econ major in undergrad?)

Quickly, though, I dismissed the idea.  It just seemed ripe for problems.

First, a closer examination of the cartons revealed a lot of different preferences.  I use regular half-and-half.  There’s a carton of non-fat (which, by the way, how is that even possible?).  One appeared to be just cream.  Another was flavored.  Finally, there was some sort of identification of a soy based product.

Clearly, that wouldn’t work.

Second, even if there was a common product, it seemed ripe for problems.  You’d have to have someone be responsible for collecting money and buying the stuff.  Rotating that just seems more hassle than it’s worth, and what do do you do if someone ‘forgets’ or goes on vacation and doesn’t bring it in?  What if someone quits or someone else catches wind and tries to get in on it?  What do you do to balance the person that drinks one cup a day with the person that measures their consumption in pots?

Even though there is most likely money to be saved by pooling together, the logistics just don’t seem worth it.

Still, it’s always fun trying to spot areas where money could be saved, and I’m sure there are others out there who might be more up for the challenge!

Raise or 401(k) Match?

A co-worker and I were talking the other day and we started discussing the pros and cons of getting a salary increase versus a 401(k) match.

Our company cut both in 2009 and there’s no shot that we’re getting both raises and reinstatement of the 401(k) match.  Frankly, I’m not convinced that we’ll get either.  We’ll probably find out in the next month or so if there is any benefit increase for 2011, though as I said, I’m not holding my breath.

I’m curious as to what the thoughts are as to which is better.  My co-worker was squarely in the corner of the 401(k) match, as the tax benefits and encouragement to save for retirement outweighed the benefit of having a larger paycheck.

I agree with him on these points, but he went so far as to say that a 1-2% 401(k) match would be more favorable than even a 3% raise.

This is where I’m not convinced.  I figure, even with the tax implications, I could get a 3% raise, dedicate 1% of that to increased contributions in the 401(k) and still end up with probably 1.5% more take home pay.

His argument (and again, it was hard to disagree with him) was that, while he and I would probably dedicate some or all of a raise to a 401(k) match, the majority of people probably wouldn’t, and would just take home the money (and spend it).

What do you think?