Work, work, work your way to health and happiness

Work, work, work your way to health and happiness

Why is work good for your health, not just your bank balance?

I’ve been thinking a lot about work recently. So what’s new I hear you ask?

But this time it’s not about my work specifically but is about the importance of being in work and why it’s important to us at B3Living to help people into work and into better paid employment.

So to start the debate, here are a few facts:

What is the cost of NOT supporting employees’ well-being?

  • UK annual cost of reduced productivity from mental ill-health = £15.1 billion
  • Average cost of sickness absence each year = £1,500 per employee.
  • UK annual cost of sickness from mental ill-health = £8.1 billion
  • Average cost of replacing staff who have left owing to impaired well-being = Salary x 3
  • Average number of days lost to stress, anxiety or depression = 24 days per case

Work is good for your bank balance but bad for your health, right?

Wrong. The characteristics of work – activity, social interaction, identity and status – are proven to be beneficial for our physical and mental health. Recent research shows that people in work tend to enjoy happier and healthier lives than people who are out of work.

But much more than that. People with health conditions, such as back pain, stress and depression and high blood pressure find that getting back to work is often the best way to recover.

The idea that work is good for our wellbeing is not new. The importance of work and the dangers of worklessness were understood long ago. The Chinese philosopher Confucius stressed the relationship between job satisfaction and wellbeing when he said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

We are a Placeshaper organisation and this means that we aim to be rooted in our communities. For B3 that means better homes, better communities and better business. Our key messages for communities are:

  • helping residents realise their potential and
  • helping communities prosper

Being in work is an important part of that. The close link between work and our sense of purpose was underlined by the American humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt, who said: “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”

People in work are more likely to feel engaged with their community and feeling valued (through work or other involvement) will make individuals more likely to feel the benefit of engaging.

John Lennon, the late Beatle, stated the importance of work to our mental health: “Work is life, you know, and without it, there's nothing but fear and insecurity.”

So what have we done?

Since introducing employability into our community development programme we have supported 618 local people into employment of which 157 have been B3 residents. This has either been from our direct support or through our partnership.

In 2014-15, for example, we saw 55 B3 residents supported into employment of which 35 were direct contacts from our employability service and the other 20 came to us through our career development and our driving school academy schemes.

We have a winner…here’s one of the stories about the difference it can make;

“One of our residents wins the regional learner of the year.”

Helping residents back into employment can, for some, be a long Journey especially if they have not worked for a long time. Elizabeth approached B3Living around 18 months ago wanting help to get back into work, it had been a very long time since Elizabeth had worked or trained and had a wide range of obstacles to overcome and to take the first step was a very brave thing to do.

As with all residents seeking our support we work on a 1-2-1 basis opening up all options to them. As well as our employability support through Aisha at B3Living, the Job Centre Plus and Herts Regional College all took on roles as part of Elizabeth's journey.

On Wednesday the 10th of June, Elizabeth and her family were invited to London to attend the NIACE (National Voice for Lifelong Learning) Adult learners award where Elizabeth was voted European Social Fund London and South East Award Winner-Outstanding individual. Read more about Elizabeth's journey here.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch with us.