James Mayes

Does unemployment make for happier people?

In Personal, Personal Development, Recruitment on April 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I met recently with a personal branding consultant. It wasn’t something on my agenda particularly, but he was looking to do a little research on the local area, we connected via a third-party on Twitter.  You know how these things can happen.

Anyway, our conversation meandered through various territory over a morning coffee and among other things, we touched on the recent global recession and resulting redundancies around the world.  During my long years in recruitment, I’ve had time out on a few occasions, for a variety of reasons. Each time, I’ve tried to do something constructive. Personal development, fitness, garden improvements, a fairly obvious list. In retrospect, I always think I could have done more with the time I had – but I’ve also spent sufficient time relaxing and reflecting, resulting in my re-invigorated return to work.  What I haven’t previously noted is that each time, I’ve also developed clearer perspectives, a stronger purpose and a more defined view of what I’d like to achieve in life.

Through the path of this recession I’ve read numerous reports pertaining to the consumerist society we find ourselves in and how short-term bonuses drove greed & risk in the banks.  I’m also aware (as a result of the branding consultant) that some of the highest course take-up in UK and US educational establishments is for personal happiness courses.  I wonder to what extent the recent high unemployment on both sides of the Atlantic will have influenced wholesale re-evaluation? As people return to work, will aims be different?  Will the work/life balance be less of a conversation and more of a reality? Do these unemployed candidates actually constitute better value than those currently in work (who often-times seem more desirable)?

On the basis of personal experience, I’d like to think the global events of the last two years can drive some positive change in more areas than just financial regulation – and I’d love to hear views from others who’ve been on this kind of journey.

  1. Hi James.

    What you’ve posted here really rings true. Over the last 18 odd years I’ve developed businesses – sold some and closed others. The last one, a training and consultancy company, I sold in 2007 after making a fundamental decision (at Christmas time 2006) to change: the business model and the result would be changing my life i.e. work/life balance.

    This was the only business that I decided not to get emotionally attached to – although difficult to do at times, it meant that I could make ‘better’ decisions on direction.

    To be honest, it was in fact ‘make or break’ time. As I’m sure you can appreciate, running your own business means, at the best of times, that there are a significant amount of sacrifices to be made. So with luck or hard work – depending on how you look at it, the business sold.

    This enabled me to seek ’employment’- much to the confusion of people around me, as many thought that it was impossible to work for someone after working so long for myself.

    3 years on, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. And I’ve found that having gone through many of the challenges business owners, department directors go through, that I’m able to align and empathise with them on different levels.

    Great Post James


  2. Great blog

    Again I find myself agreeing with you – I think that any time taken out of the norm will allow for reflection on what is important. However, I will add (from my own musings rather than specific evidence) that the older we more understanding we have about what our own work/life balance looks like and how to achieve it.

    It will be interesting to see if the recent financial situation has an effect generally on those returning to work – Employment law is definitely supporting work/life balance with enhanced Maternity and Paternity leave (even sharing the time off), flexible working allowing for dependants other than just children and I could go on!

    Thanks for the musings


    Thanks for the musing


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