Positive wellbeing – the key to moving clients forward

People experiencing prolonged unemployment have much lower levels of wellbeing than employed people.

As their confidence and motivation decrease, they lose sight of their employment goals and begin to feel hopeless. The barriers to employment are complex and varied – and wide-reaching for many individuals.

Taking a ‘wellbeing approach’ in the employment services sector means focusing on an individual’s wellbeing by building their psychological work-readiness skills. These skills are not typical interpersonal or ‘soft skills’ such as time management or teamwork; they are innate human qualities that can be strengthened, such as self-esteem, confidence, motivation, resilience, agency and efficacy.

Results of a 2019 trial conducted by the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) revealed positive impacts of a wellbeing intervention for long-term unemployment. The intervention focused on three key wellbeing indicators of resilience, satisfaction with life, and self-esteem, and participant outcomes included increased motivation towards employment or further study.

These results were achieved by satisfying the following basic psychological needs of the participants:

  • Increased autonomy for participants during times of uncertainty
  • Enhanced confidence to build new skills to develop competence
  • Creating a strong sense of belonging and connection within the group

These wellbeing indicators are typically diminished or absent in long-term unemployed people. In the vast research on the negative impacts of prolonged unemployment, long-term unemployed individuals are shown to lose hope in their ability to change their circumstances and, ultimately, their lives.

Let’s explore some of these wellbeing indicators in more detail.

Resilience

A positive state of wellbeing cultivates mental resilience—an invaluable asset in navigating life’s ups and downs. It equips individuals with the ability to bounce back from setbacks, face challenges with a clearer perspective, and adapt to change more effectively.

Self-esteem and confidence

Self-esteem refers to an individual’s overall subjective evaluation of their worth and how they perceive themselves. It involves beliefs about one’s abilities, qualities, and overall self-worth. High self-esteem generally leads to positive feelings about oneself, while low self-esteem can result in negative feelings and a lack of confidence. When your clients have positive self-esteem, they feel more confident and hopeful about their ability to find and sustain employment.

Motivation

People are motivated by one of two things – avoiding pain or gaining pleasure. Simply put, your clients will be motivated to change based on if they are seeking to feel good or avoid feeling bad. Motivation contributes to a positive mindset and higher self-efficacy—the belief in a person’s ability to succeed. When motivated, individuals experience a sense of empowerment and confidence in their capabilities. This belief in oneself enhances performance and increases the likelihood of taking on more challenging tasks, further propelling progress towards goals. 

Enhanced Emotional Intelligence

Wellbeing contributes to heightened emotional intelligence, enabling individuals to understand, manage, and express emotions in healthy ways. This skill fosters stronger relationships, improved communication, and empathy towards others. Emotional intelligence empowers individuals to navigate social interactions, conflicts, and collaborations more effectively, propelling them forward personally and professionally. These skills are most beneficial to develop to sustain employment.

Clarity & Purpose

Clarity allows for better decision-making, problem-solving, and the capacity to imagine and pursue meaningful goals. When an individual’s purpose is clearly aligned with their values and beliefs, they are more likely to commit to the process of goal attainment.

Better Physical Health

The relationship between physical health and positive wellbeing cannot be overlooked. Engaging in activities that promote wellbeing—such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate rest—supports physical health. A healthy body contributes to increased energy levels, reduced stress, and a strengthened immune system. This, in turn, allows individuals to pursue their goals with vigour and stamina, helping them move forward in life. The health risks for long-term unemployed people are considerably higher than those of employed people. Increasing an individual’s wellbeing is essential for boosting community health outcomes.

Improved Relationships and Support Networks

Positive wellbeing fosters stronger connections with others. Healthy relationships and support networks are integral to one’s overall sense of wellbeing. These connections provide emotional support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging, serving as pillars of strength during challenging times. Strong relationships enhance personal happiness and contribute to an environment for personal growth and progress.

Enhanced Adaptability and Learning

Wellbeing nurtures a growth-oriented mindset, promoting adaptability and continuous learning. Individuals with positive wellbeing are more open to new experiences, willing to embrace change, and eager to learn from both successes and failures. This attitude of continuous growth facilitates personal development, allowing individuals to evolve and thrive in various aspects of life.

What does this mean for employment providers?

When people experience positive wellbeing, they are open to positive change and greater employment opportunities. Enhancing wellbeing has been found to increase the likelihood of employment, improve attitudes towards work, and strengthen coping skills (Cole, 2006). Moreover, when people find jobs that further contribute to their wellbeing, they are more likely to be successful in those jobs and to stay employed for longer (AtWork, 2021).

For long-term unemployed individuals, access to job coaches equipped to provide support, positive relational energy, and facilitate resourceful thinking will be a significant advantage when exploring pathways and achieving employment goals.

Employment providers can increase their clients’ capacity to achieve meaningful, sustainable employment through training and development targeted specifically to their clients, frontline workers, and leaders.

Final thoughts…

Fundamentally, positive wellbeing acts as a catalyst for personal progress and fulfilment. It underpins mental resilience, emotional intelligence, physical health, and the ability to foster meaningful connections. Prioritising wellbeing empowers individuals to overcome obstacles, embrace opportunities, and lead a more purposeful and satisfying life. As providers, if you invest in the wellbeing of your clients and staff, they will enhance their own lives and contribute positively to their communities, creating a ripple effect of positivity and progress.

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