The workplace is changing, and for a lot of us, we didn't even notice. (Almost) gone are the days of the Company Man who values the company that he works for above all else. The Company Man who would stay at one firm for his entire working life.
Today, it is much more common to see employees with a host of experiences at different companies. It is also common to see people with several jobs at the same time. Emma Gannon, author of The Multi-Hyphen Method, noted that the world of work is becoming more flexible, allowing employees to start their own companies on the side, help out with their family business one day a week, take time off to study, and so on.
There has also been a massive rise is what is now known as 'gig economy', where companies are much more ready to outsource work on a project-by-project basis.
My work history goes something like this;
In my own household, there are two very different ways of working. My partner has worked for multiple companies but has never worked for more than one company at a time. I, on the other hand, have not worked for one company at a time in the last 5 years.
In 2014 I got a job supporting adults with learning disabilities. About a year later I started my Masters in Psychotherapy and Counselling. Soon after that, I added a training placement into the mix. I then left my job as a support worker and worked in door-to-door sales for about two weeks (yuk!). I was then unemployed for about a month and a half, while still going to university and now doing two training placements. I then added a temporary Christmas retail job and then moved onto managing a cafe full-time, while still managing uni and two placements. After finishing university, I stopped everything that I was doing and moved from Leeds to London.
Once in London, I started a voluntary counselling position and started working in a cafe again (working in the cafe but also managing social media for both branches of this cafe). I then added another voluntary position and then added in my own private practice. I left the second voluntary position after a year, and was employed by the first voluntary position, and therefore also leaving the cafe as well.
I now consider myself to have three job roles; (1) I work in private practice, (2) I work for a counselling organisation as a team leader and counsellor, and (3) I am a content writer and part of the marketing team for the same organisation.
Those around me...
I am surrounded by people with such different work histories. Many people in the Counselling and Therapy world have similar situations to my own. My siblings are all self-employed, or one their way to being self-employed. My friends are a mixture of employed by companies and in further education. Interestingly, all of my male friends went straight into work after school or university, and almost all of them are working in larger companies, where almost all of my female friends have gone into some form of further education.
The UK in general...
According to the BBC, self-employment has been on the rise since 2001 and now accounts for about 15% of the working population in the UK. This is especially true of young people who are keen to be their own boss, and the number of self-employed 16-24-year-olds has nearly doubled since 2001. However, those in the over 65 age category are also moving towards self-employment. Following the recession, the number of over-65s who are self-employed has nearly tripled.
So, how is this new way of working impacting our mental health?
Being self-employed can feel so freeing, especially if you are someone who has never liked the idea of working for someone else, but it can also be very stressful and anxiety-inducing. There is no more paid holiday time, no more paid sick days - if you don't work, you don't get paid.
And even when you do work sometimes you don't get paid. I don't pay myself to work on my website or write these blog posts, and many new companies will be in the red for the first few months - there can be a lot of start-up costs.
Burnout can hit you really hard. Once you understand that if you don't work then you don't get paid, it is easy to find yourself working at all hours, seven days a week, and never taking time off. It is so important to create balance - especially if you work from home.
Often, it's that time travelling to and from the office that allows us to switch off, but if you are working from home it is hard to know when to stop. If you are chasing leads, trying to find new clients, and so on, it is easy to answer your phone or emails when you are on holiday or on a date or at the cinema, etc.
You need to find that balance between working hard to build your business and taking the time to look after yourself so that you don't burn out. Check out my blog on Hustle Culture to get tips on how to take care of yourself while working hard and building a business!
As always, if you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please email me at email@example.com
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