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Many who are unemployed feel they cannot say or even think this.  Research shows that up to 70% of unemployed individuals may be ambivalent about working.  That’s 7 out of 10.

For most of us, there are strong social and economic factors that tell us we should work.  So why do we work?  What drives us to seek employment when we are jobless?  The most obvious reason is that we need to provide for ourselves and others, put food on the table and a roof over our heads.  But what if those basic needs are taken care of, perhaps a spouse or partner’s income is sufficient, or we are on social assistance?  When there are benefits to not working, these are often unspoken and can be a source of frustration to those who are in a supporting role.

If we start with the assumption that finding a job is the end goal and we fail to discuss the benefits of not working, we may encounter resistance, self-sabotage, as well as a multitude of reasons (excuses) about why a particular job just isn’t right.  When ambivalence is identified, it is important for both the person and the employment coach to resolve this.

Without resolution, the job search is frequently unsuccessful, the person may have difficulty keeping a job if they take one, and considerable time and resources are expended on both parts without realizing success.

So what can we do?  First we need to understand that ambivalence is a state of indecision – the decision (to work or not to work) swings back and forth, as there are benefits to both working and not working.

Listening to the benefits of not working, and then asking about the benefits of working allows the person to gain insight into what they value about each possibility.  Once the value system is engaged, often the person will “tip” in one direction, or the other.  The outcome then becomes clearer and the person usually experiences relief, particularly if they recognize that something other than employment is more important right now.  Or we generate renewed excitement and momentum toward employment.

At Agilec, we work in a way that helps each person make the decision that is right for them through a non-judgemental process.  If the decision is toward employment, we collaborate on an effective action plan to move toward that goal.  If the decision is away from employment, then the focus moves toward what is important right now (family, health or other issues).  The process clarifies the goal of employment (or not) and contributes significantly to our candidates success.  Most importantly, it is strongly aligned with Agilec’s mission – to help people and organizations develop their potential by providing counsel, education, resources, and connections in a caring, respectful, and professional manner.

by Kathy Low, Blogger for Agilec

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