Working towards wellbeing


Working towards wellbeing

Yes, having a job isn’t always very fun. It can be difficult. Or tiring. Or stressful. Or boring. Like, really quite boring.

But there is much more to it than that.

We are currently speaking a lot about how improving people’s wellbeing can help them to find new jobs. However, this relationship goes the other way too: jobs can also help people to improve their wellbeing, and be the foundation from which they tackle other challenges in their life.

I see this a lot at Evolve.

When we work with people impacted by homelessness on their mental health and wellbeing, one approach we use is called PERMA. PERMA is a framework consisting of five key areas that can help improve your happiness and wellbeing: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments. PERMA.

  • Positive emotion means developing and sustaining positive emotions.
  • Engagement means finding activities or projects that absorb and interest you.
  • Relationships means – you guessed it – building relationships with people.
  • Meaning means finding purpose and feeling like there is a point to what you do.
  • Accomplishments means achieving things, big or small, to build confidence and self-esteem.

How does this relate to jobs? Well, the right role can feed into all aspects of this PERMA model. In other words, it can help to build happiness and emotional wellbeing.

That tricky email you sent this morning? That’s an accomplishment. The conversation you had with someone about their weekend? Relationship building. That excitement you felt when you heard about a new project? Positive emotion.

Of course, most of us are not excited and energized by our jobs all the time. They can be challenging, and a source of concern as much as happiness. But, even when we aren’t enjoying them as much, they often still provide lots of things that feed into our wellbeing. We just might not notice.

If you have been impacted by homelessness or experienced trauma, any or all parts of PERMA can seem unreachable. You may feel isolated, or like you don’t matter. You might feel as if you lack direction, and there isn’t a clear route forward for you. Sometimes work, whatever form it takes, can be a huge help. It can enable you to experience aspects of PERMA on a regular basis.

This is only possible if you are in the right kind of job for you, which is why our ESP programme focuses so much on finding personalised opportunities for people. But when that part works, and people take up roles that suit them, the results can be amazing. We regularly see people’s happiness, confidence and self-belief increase as a result of working.

As such, when we support people who have been homeless, we must think of work and wellbeing as closely linked. You might need help finding a new role, but once you have found it, it can increase your wellbeing. That in turn encourages you to take other steps in moving on from homelessness. In the end, this can help people move on to new homes and new lives faster.

Jenna is Health + Wellbeing Manager at Evolve.

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