Is work good for us? The benefits of work on our wellbeing
While regular income has its obvious advantages, the benefits of being employed go well beyond a pay cheque. Studies show that work is beneficial for our health and wellbeing – physically, mentally and emotionally.
The Mental Health Foundation of NZ has identified Five Ways to Wellbeing – proven keys that help people find balance, build resilience and boost mental health and wellbeing in general. Interestingly, these five pathways – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give – can all be journeyed through a person’s employment. A job provides opportunities for connection, activity, intentional focus (taking notice), learning, and also giving (through the contribution of skills, labour and ideas).
Work can benefit both mental and physical health
Conversely, a UK study conducted by the Department of Work and Pensions (2006) concluded that there are clear associations between unemployment and poor health, especially with regards to mental health and psychological distress, but also to the extent of poorer general health, longstanding illness, hospital admission rates and higher mortality. This conclusion underlies efforts here in New Zealand to support sick and injured people back into employment, the evidence suggesting that work is not only therapeutic but helps promotes recovery and rehabilitation.
Physically, employment offers opportunities for up-skilling and development. Labouring work, in particular, offers a chance to develop strength and fitness. There are proven health benefits, as already discussed, related to being active and getting out and about.
Finding meaning through being productive
Some of the more obvious benefits of work relate to self-esteem and, therefore, our mental and emotional wellbeing. A job offers someone a sense of achievement and self-worth, our vocation being a key component of our identity and one of the first details we share about ourselves in an introduction. Work is not only central to our personal identity but also our social status (perceived or otherwise). While we should take care to build our sense of self-worth on who we are, rather than what we do, the validation offered by employment should not be underestimated.
Employment has a significant effect on quality of life. Having a job not only leads to greater financial independence, and thus autonomy, but also a greater sense of contribution to and involvement in society. The feeling of being productive gives life meaning.
Finding work can help break the cycle of benefit dependency
Employment offers hope for the future on a macro scale too. In the Northland region and others of similar socioeconomic status, benefit dependency is all too often a generational cycle. Offering employment to an individual has the potential to cast a light of hope on the future prospects of anyone within that person’s sphere of influence. Just one person gaining employment and coming off welfare has the potential to change the perspectives of following generations, breaking cycles of underachievement and benefit dependency.
The Employment Co can help your business integrate youth employment schemes or introduce rehabilitation programmes into your staffing needs, find out more here.
We can also help you develop initiatives that will promote health and wellbeing within your workplace, contact us to find out more.