Career wellbeing – in addition to physical, financial, social, and community wellbeing – plays a major role in our health. Why? We gain a great deal of satisfaction and sense of self-esteem and accomplishment by way of our career choice. It is where we derive our meaning and sense of purpose in life, which is deeply-rooted in who we are as human beings. We spend the major part of our waking hours at work and it makes sense that we would want to thrive and be engaged in our life’s work.
Studies show that when people are engaged in their work, their happiness, physical health, and overall interest throughout the day are significantly higher than those who are not engaged. Employees who are disinterested have higher stress levels, less happiness, more everyday anxiety and depression, and are at risk of increased health issues. These factors activate the fight-flight mode and over time this state causes major wear and tear on the physiology of the body. This ultimately affects the cost of doing business in many domains (i.e. health care, family life) and the larger social fabric.
When we are able to use our strengths at work and these are appreciated and validated by leadership, this makes daily work all worth it. Employees who are able to use their strengths in the workplace are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life. Quality of life is our wellbeing.
Wellbeing has an impact on the productivity, happiness and stress levels, and ultimately our health and the culture in the workplace. This is one of the most significant factors to consider for any business interested in the “bottom line.” When employees experience this type of career wellbeing, they tend to work hard, have positive attitudes about their work and the workplace, and treat others with consideration. They are engaged and experience work-life balance.
So, how do we work toward greater career wellbeing?
First, we must ask ourselves:
- Do you like what you do each day?
- What am I passionate about? What do I love to do?
- What are my core values?
- How do I align my core values with doing what I love to do?
You can be very good at a task or job, but if you don’t have passion for it, it will be difficult to sustain your energy over time.
Next, consider what Rath & Harter, authors of Wellbeing The Five Essential Elements suggest, which is that we:
- Use our strengths every day.
- Spend more time with people who encourage our growth and development.
- Opt into more social time with the people and teams we enjoy being around at work.
Doing what you love is an investment in your health and wellbeing. This is the “take home” message for happiness at work and through life.
Evy Smith, MA LCMHC, CTTS-M, is an EFAP Counselor & Tobacco Treatment Specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.