Welcome to Surviving Work

Policy debates about measuring happiness in the current climate sound like something from a bygone era when men didn’t cry and women wore matching gloves. But the gloves are firmly off and we are now facing the harsh realities of work and the lack of it, with the longest recession in history predicted in the UK we’re asking ourselves a very real question about how to survive it.

In the UK there are an estimated 2.9 million unemployed and a further 2.4 million adults outside of the labour force. The ONS estimates that there is one job available for every ten jobseekers.  Lack of jobs and skills are largely responsible for the staggering drop in optimism of young people about successfully finding their way into the world of work with 72% of young people not believing they will find secure work.

People who still have jobs are supposed to feel like the lucky ones, but in these deregulated precarious times, it might not feel that way. An increasing percentage of working people now work under precarious work conditions, a radical change in the way we work seen in the last 30 years. Precarious work has been around for so long in this country the last time I used the term “permanent work” in conversation, I was sprayed with coffee as the person I was talking to sputtered that it was preposterous that anyone should expect any guarantee of work. I had to explain the difference between having a permanent contract and a lifetime guarantee of work. This person was the UK Director of the second largest Private Employment Agency in the world, a rapidly growing $441 billion (yes you read that right, billion) a year industry and that’s just the legal and visible tip of the contract and agency labour iceberg. The delusion of safety of employment has truly been bred out of us, along with expectations of social and employment protections, pensions, training or career progression leaving us behind in a state of  naked fear most Sunday nights.

Anyone feeling happy now?

This blog will look critically at current thinking about how to tackle the grown up world of mental health in a recession and explore ideas about how we can stop this crisis-of-work turning into a catastrophe-of-mind. We will be championing the concept of resilience, the ability to cope with and adapt to difficult situations, rather than allegedly evidence based positive psychology and happiness interventions favored by the government and employers. We’re not against being happy, taking exercise or regulating our emotions enough to abstain from punching and spitting but resilience responds to the voice that many of us wake bolt upright to at 4am asking how am I going to get through this? Resilience is a fundamentally realistic concept that acknowledges the world as it is and the proposal that to survive it we should build on our capacity to adapt, a squaring up to life despite its horrors, loves, hates, losses and betrayals.

Surviving Work Weekly will offer some ideas for surviving work or its absence, focusing on our ability to see reality in all its ugly glory, allowing ourselves to get angry about it but still try to understand it, learning to find help and relying on our relationships with others and finally remembering why we might still be able to enjoy work.

Surviving Work Weekly is an initiative of The Resilience Space www.theresiliencespace.com

Contact us on [email protected]

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