National Careers Week 2024: Early work experiences and the imperative for workplace support

Embarking on my first part time job at the tender age of 16, I found myself plunged into the world of work with little guidance or preparation. The experience was eye-opening, to say the least. Assigned to sell kitchens over the phone, I lacked an employment contract, training, or even a mentor to turn to. Despite my initial optimism, the reality soon set in – I felt unprepared, unsupported, and hesitant to ask for help. This early encounter left me with a profound understanding of the importance of workplace support and the impact it can have on well-being.

Years later, as I reflect on my journey, in light of National Careers Weeks and recent articles in People Management, highlighting that “Firms [are] urged to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their health, after Resolution Foundation research highlights mental illness ‘crisis’ among young people”. The reports paint a stark picture, reminding me of the sense of dread I felt in my first role and the negative toll it took on me. It's a sobering reminder of the responsibility we, as employers and HR professionals, bear in ensuring that our workplaces are nurturing and supportive environments where all individuals can thrive.

While I may sound like a broken record, advocating for well-being and employee support, is a cause I hold dear. There's still much work to be done to ensure that no one feels pushed out of the workplace due to workload, culture, or lack of supportive management. Despite the complexities HR professionals face in influencing organizational practices, I firmly believe that we are at the forefront of change. Guided by our instincts and a commitment to support others, we must continue striving to create environments where employees feel valued, heard, and supported.

It's not just about fulfilling legal obligations; it's about doing right by our employees. We need to ask ourselves: How can we help educational settings prepare Early Careers entrants for the world of work? Are we crafting job specifications that are realistic and achievable? What provisions do we have in place to prevent burnout and overworking? Are we continuing to develop an open, supportive, and caring culture, where we can all be our true selves? These are questions that demand our attention as we work towards building cultures of well-being and inclusivity.

In early 2021, amidst the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Solomons Europe, made a decisive investment in workplace resilience and well-being training. This initiative underscored our commitment to supporting our employees through challenging times. The rollout of in-house training programs and educational sessions further demonstrated our dedication to fostering a culture of well-being and resilience.

Delivering Resilience and Wellbeing training alongside my colleague Dawn has been particularly rewarding. It's an opportunity for us, to directly impact organizational culture and foster open, honest conversations about well-being. Our goal is simple: to deliver initiatives that make a real difference in the lives of our employees, driven by a genuine desire to do right by others.

As the workforce landscape continues to evolve, so too must our approach to supporting employee well-being. By prioritizing proactive interventions and fostering collaborative, inclusive environments, we can create workplaces where all individuals have the opportunity to thrive. As we continue to shine the spot light on National Careers Week, let’s take stock and champion the cause of workplace well-being, building a future where every employee feels supported and able to fulfil their potential.

Worklessness from ill-health more common in 20s than 40s: how can employers help? (

Experts issue advice to HR as statistics show record numbers out of work because of long-term sickness (

Posts and articles are published here solely for informational purposes. The content contained therein may be brief and is intended to offer general guidance that may be of interest. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any professional advice, consultation or service.

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Solomons Europe is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Centrix House, Crow Lane East, Newton le Willows, WA12 9UY. Registered number: 3548482

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