Career Development Association of New Zealand


Te Mōhiotanga

You had me at Wellbeing

By: Kathryn Jackson

Date: 26 Nov 2019

Category: Article reviews

Tags: reslilience, workplace

You had me at Wellbeing

 I was recently invited back to speak at the CDANZ Conference in Christchurch to share my passion and knowledge for growing wellbeing and resilience at work.

This year we explored the theme through a different lens, that of wellbeing science as a potential resource to strengthen our professional career practices around New Zealand.

I arrived early and spoke with a woman who was waiting for the doors to my workshop to open. It was great to talk to another practitioner who is equally as interested in making a difference to workplaces. 

I asked her, “What was it about my workshop that encouraged you to choose it?” 

“You had me at wellbeing,” she replied.

Wellbeing is a hot topic at present and rightly so if the statistics are anything to go by.

Here are some of the numbers that have appeared in my email feed over the last couple of weeks*:

  • $1.5 billion per year lost due to workplace absence and stress
  • 40% of the workforce believe it is not possible to succeed at work and have a balanced life
  • Two in three of us experience a mental issue at some point in our life
  • Just under 30% of the population report that work makes them unhappy.

As a career practitioner I have been interested in understanding the science of wellbeing and resilience since 2010, when my hometown of Christchurch was first plunged into the world of earthquakes, repairs and rebuilds.

I needed to have a better understanding of how to deliberately build wellbeing with my clients and their businesses using the science, and not just “food, fitness and a sprinkle of yoga”.

Thankfully we live in times where knowledge about the connection between mental wellbeing, physical or spiritual wellbeing, social wellbeing and intellectual wellbeing seems to be growing almost daily. Our understanding of the biochemical responses of our body to the stressors in our world is becoming almost mainstream with the advent of neuroscience, and the impact of more effectively managing our mind is being taught by the schools of positive psychology and emotional intelligence.

And so, I accepted an assignment that involved learning from some of New Zealand’s leading wellbeing specialists, using their research and knowledge to help more people have a good day at work, despite the relentless aftershocks, uncertainty and pressure to deliver a seemingly impossible result.

I quickly realised that New Zealand needs more wellbeing professionals. There are not enough people yet with the knowledge, qualifications and experience to truly influence the statistics. During my workshop we began to explore how this gap creates a potential opportunity for career professionals.

For example, when clients experience frustration in achieving their career aspirations, are anxious about uncertainty at work or angry at an unsupportive manager we should use the scientific research and help them to grow their coping strategies rather than simply supporting or encouraging them to get through. I believe that by developing emotional literacy and understanding the science better, our clients will be able to navigate the highs and lows of working life more confidently, and hopefully help others to do the same.

Like Joanna; whose fear of moving back to the CBD in Christchurch caused her intense anxiousness and she was considering leaving her employer so she could remain at a location outside the city centre. Growing her understanding of emotional response helped her to realise that the anxiety, sadness and grief that she felt every time she visited the city were a perfectly normal part of her journey.

Like Pete; who very much wanted to be a leader in his organisation but realised that his role as “one of the boys” was making him nervous about exploring this possibility. Understanding and embracing the cause of his nerves helped him to have a deeply honest conversation with his own manager – something he had never had before.

Instead of simply helping Joanna to find a new job, or Pete to embark on a leadership training programme, the science contributed to growing their longer-term wellbeing coping strategies and strength.

One of the reasons for writing Resilience at Work – Practical Tools for Career Success is that I wanted to contribute to the knowledge about wellbeing and help more people have a good day at work despite the uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that exists in our world.

I’m delighted that my work is being recognised as a powerful resource for career practitioners. The publication is a finalist both for Best International Business Book at the Business Book Awards in London, and for the Australian Career Book Awards.

My workshop explored how the resources, information, case studies and exercises within the book can help our career practices to grow and strengthen our work for the future. We also talked about other toolkits to help us on that journey, such as whitepapers from RobertsonCooper, the Global Leadership Wellbeing survey, the Oranges Toolkit, Working with Resilience and the work of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience of which I am an executive coaching associate.

So, the big question for career practitioners to consider is this:

How might an understanding of the science of wellbeing support your own career practice, so that you too can be part of the journey to grow wellbeing at work and help more people to have a good day, every day?


*Wellness in the Workplace report, 2017


Kathryn Jackson

Kathryn Jackson

Kathryn Jackson is a New Zealand based learning & development coach with over 20 years’ experience in HR consulting, Learning & Development and workplace coaching and Resilience at Work is her third book (along with Keep Your Cool, 2009 and Essential Questions to GROW Your Team, 2017). She has spent the last few years working in collaboration with global resilience specialists to create a resource that brings together the latest research about resilience in a very practically applied format.

An active member of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, she is determined to contribute to influencing the discussion about wellbeing and resilience at work.