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Career wellbeing - is it just a buzzword?

Wednesday June 09, 2021


Posted by Charles Ashwell on Wednesday June 09, 2021

What is career wellbeing?

Most definitions are as simple as:

Do you like what you do every day? Does it have meaning to you?

Of course, ambitious employees have always had one eye on their career progression, whether that’s to achieve a salary bump or their own professional goals.

The difference with career wellbeing is considering the impact of career on our overall happiness, supporting employees’ work development in the context of their whole lives. For example, an employee may love their job day-to-day, but does it give them enough time to balance their family commitments? Can they still manage their mental, physical and social wellbeing?

It’s common knowledge that being fulfilled at work is good for you, but we’re now seeing increasing emphasis on how career satisfaction impacts our health. Employees who don’t enjoy their jobs can experience stress, anxiety, boredom and depression, conditions which are also linked to poor physical health.

Common signs of poor career wellbeing:

  • Stress – feeling the pressure of deadlines or excessive workload
  • Boredom – watching the clock and waiting for ‘real life’ to begin
  • Disengagement – not caring if work is finished on time or to a good standard
  • Loneliness – lack of connection with colleagues
  • Under-fulfilment – feeling like you’re not moving forward in your career or achieving your goals
  • Restlessness – not committed to current job, always looking for another opportunity.

For employers, all these symptoms have a negative impact on productivity and the morale of other team members. For individuals, lack of fulfilment at work can make it difficult to thrive in other areas of life.

What can employers do?

It’s vital that employers consider career wellbeing as part of a holistic wellbeing strategy.

Using strengths

When we’re good at something, we’re more likely to enjoy it. So employers should assist employees in identifying their strengths and interests, and help develop these over time. Support employees with the mindset that continuous improvement mixed with experience is the best way to grow your strengths in your profession. From the most junior employees to the Chief Executive, everyone should always be learning and developing in their role.

Help employees work towards long term goals

Everyone wants to feel as though they’re moving forwards in their career and achieving their goals. When employees feel stagnant, they begin to feel bored and the lack of progression can have extremely negative impacts on wellbeing.

Work with employees to develop a career action plan. Talk to them about what their priorities are, and how their strengths and interests can best be deployed. Encourage employees to apply for internal opportunities, when they become available, based on those strengths and interests.

Don’t save career conversations for the yearly review – encourage an ongoing dialogue about how employees are performing against their goals, what competencies they need to demonstrate, and how the business can support them.

Social connection

After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, we’re more aware than ever of the importance of strong social relationships at work. Friendships are an important reason people enjoy coming to work, and we should celebrate personal and professional support from colleagues, managers, and senior leaders.


Develop ways to help employees feel valued. For example, implement a formal way of recognising a job well done. This doesn’t have to be financial; it could simply be via your intranet or company newsletter. Make sure supervisors and managers are all on the same page and embrace the opportunities to show employees they are valued.

For more info on building a holistic wellbeing strategy, check out our Wellbeing Hub. You can also email to speak to a specialist.

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