I’ve noticed a trend. Over the past few years, the number of inquiries that I get from people looking for help with their career has increased. But until recently the mix was pretty equal between the currently employed and unemployed.
Over the past year, the requests I get are overwhelmingly from the unemployed. I’m wondering: what’s that about?
Yes, the unemployment rate is high. But most of the people who write have been unemployed for a year or more. Nothing about my online presence – my website, my content or the press I get – has changed. Trying to learn more, I checked out another career/illness site, the Cancer and Careers website (see my most recent suggestions to a nurse returning to work and requesting accommodations). The questions seem to reflect a demanding and inflexible workplace.
Clearly, a declining economy puts strain on employers to get more from employees. Are employers cutting staff back and taking advantage of workers with few options? Does this lead people with illness to leave the workforce rather than risk asking for flexibility and accommodations? Do you see this happening?
When you’re already struggling with illness, it’s harder to see your options than your limitations. You lose hope that you’ll feel better again and be able to work. You become convinced that working is making you sicker and the best thing for you is unemployment.
But what you might not know or even believe is that bad health often doesn’t stay static. And, some jobs, supervisors and org culture are worse than others. Finally, once you leave the workforce and have gaps in your work history, it’s that much harder to return.
Why don’t people seek help to stay employed? Why not “look” before you leap out?
FYI – My book, Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! got a nice review from a working mom on the blog Living It Loving It.