Dodging the mid-life career crisis at work

May 27, 2016 Geoffroy De Lestrange


Career goals are just as important as personal ambitions, but with the plethora of career options available today many can get stuck in a rut and face career challenges. A recent report by The Open University found that 44% of the British public are going through, or have gone through, a “life crisis” brought on by unfulfilled ambitions. Due to demanding work hours, personal passions and hobbies are put on hold.

Where often this might be seen as a mid-life problem, 29% of those surveyed had their "life crisis" between the ages of 18 and 30, suggesting that this can affect workers of any age.

Furthermore, according to a recent CIPD report (2015), almost a third of employees (31%) say they come home from work exhausted either often (24%) or always (7%), so it’s important that companies and managers offer to support employees’ health and development so they can avoid burnout and unfulfilled ambitions.

But how do managers navigate career anxiety with their employees?

Work out what works 

Flexible working is increasingly on the rise and with the right management tools available, working from home and caring for others can be supported by companies.

Employers should outline how productivity and performance will be analysed and set up a plan so their employees are in regular communication with all members of the team. Remote working can be effective via video conferencing, emails and access to an HR system to ensure the employee remains engaged.

From an employer perspective, line managers should evaluate their staff’s working habits and job role, and offer flexible working to keep them committed to the company while also supporting staff in fulfilling personal duties.

Seeking skills

It’s not always the rise in the pay packet that employees are eager for. One of the most influential ways employers can boost motivation is by applying a focus on employee development.

Employees are seeking career development opportunities that will secure them their next promotion, broaden their skillset and set them apart from other candidates. Many want to obtain the best transferable skills for their job role and be able to apply these skills to other roles in the workplace.

HR and management teams can address this concern of employee development by implementing a talent management software platform that helps to manage recruitment, performance management, learning and development.

Using this platform will enable employers to get a clearer picture of each employee and recommend training to those that need support, and reward employees that are reaching performance targets. Likewise, it can also help show at-risk employees and those who may benefit from trying a role in other departments within the company.

Pumped up and ready to work

According to data published by Cardlytics, consumer spending on gym memberships in the UK increased by 44% in 2015. Encouraging your employees to exercise regularly can increase motivation and make workers feel fresh and energised, and promote a healthier workforce.

Companies may want to introduce a subsidised gym membership to their staff or workplace exercise classes in the evenings. If you’re part of a larger organisation, you can be creative and join forces with a local club for five-a-side football in a local leisure centre.

According to Bupa, exercise can help prevent and treat some mental health conditions. Participating in physical activity can reduce the risk of developing depression and dementia. It can also help to treat depression in those who already have the condition.

Investing time in staff welfare and fitness is important and can help decrease staff burnout and ultimately, employees taking sick leave.

Lend a hand

It’s important to recognise and pay attention to the well-being of all employees. Sometimes personal problems can arise and employees may find it difficult to discuss and address these at work. However, if they manifest, these issues can cause a crisis and affect the performance of daily job roles.

Organisations perform better when their staff are healthy, motivated and happy, therefore HR teams and managers should focus on supporting staff mental health. Employers can set up schemes that provide confidential counselling services for staff to use on-site or through a GP. Another alternative option is to provide staff with a break-out area so they can take a short break from sitting at their desk and unwind from workplace stress.

According to research by Globoforce, workers who are happier and enjoy their jobs achieve their goals 31% more often and are 36% more motivated than those who aren't satisfied, similarly a study by the University of Warwick found that happiness makes people more productive at work. This shows that happier employees will perform more productively and this can benefit employers reaching their targets and wanting a more engaged workforce.

Overall, what can we learn from this is? Listening to staff is vital and implementing the above strategies can help managers understand their employees’ career ambitions, and what can be done to help them reach objectives they are trying to meet.

Paying an active interest in personal ambitions and hobbies is important, as is taking initiative and providing new learning opportunities to staff that promote a stronger work ethic and happier employees. 

About the Author

Geoffroy De Lestrange

Product Marketing & Communication Director EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

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