When I was an employment consultant both in Australia and the UK, I had met many types of people who were on welfare. It did not matter which country it was, the excuses as to why someone didn’t want to work were usually similar. From those who were in a generational welfare cycle, to others who had low self-belief about their own abilities and self-worth. Then there were those with mental or physical disabilities who were uncertain how they will fit in, others who were battling various drug addictions, and then a few who had a fear of letting go of depending on the government. And I have no doubt that you have shared a similar experience yourself if you work in employment services. In the UK in particular, at times people were worse off financially if they got into minimum wage employment, as the wages back in 2012 were not that high. So, after doing a better-off calculation, some people were going to be short 30 to 50 pounds a month if they decided to take a role. Many times, I had to work on other intrinsic factors beyond the wages. But of course, I also had to show them a plan of how they can progress in a career and earn more through doing the time and experience. I can tell you that I’ve seen even the most unexpected person who was so attached to their government cheque, have a change of heart, and go into employment. What I did was coach people out of a poverty and dependence mindset, into one of self-worthiness and ambition. This was by simply helping them create compelling futures and believe that it is possible. I was able to sell them the idea that working creates a sense of meaning. Humans by nature need two things to lead fulfilling lives. These are mastery and purpose. Without these two elements, they will eventually suffer mentally. Life will become monotonous, if they are not mastering new skills, and progressing. Without work, and accomplishing goals, many times life will lack meaning In fact, there are many reports and studies that showed various people who became depressed soon after they retired. Hobbies and interests turned out not to be as rewarding as retirees had imagined. Among many other factors, not having a routine, challenging goals to work towards and the lack of ‘sense of achievement’ combined, affected the retiree's mental wellbeing. But of course, it needs to be the right job suited to the individual’s skills, abilities, and interests. But most importantly, in a culture that aligns with their own values. So, when communicating with a jobseeker who doesn’t want to work, here are a few simple things that you can aim for:
Always be open that anyone can change. I have met people who at one point were in prison, drug addicts or homeless who are now successful CEOs.
Find out their values and what is important. Communicate to them in the language of their values.
Help them set compelling goals. Who knows, even a simple goal such as to someday travel the world or meet a life partner, could inspire them to want to work.
Help them visualise compelling futures.
Help them develop their self-belief and self-worth. Sometimes it’s as simple as you demonstrating that you believe in them.
Ask them questions in order to help them create unique insights. This will help them feel empowered.
In saying all of this, I am in no way suggesting that you act as a psychologist. But I personally know that a quick 30-minute focused coaching discussion helping someone develop self-belief and envision an exciting future can make all of the difference.
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