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Tags: What is Real Wellbeing? AUWI20 Wellbeing Index

“Given work is such a big part of our lives, it’s an inherent component of our overall wellbeing.”—Grace Singh, General Manager of Community, Wellbeing and Safety at Australian Unity.

Key points

  • Work can offer us a sense of purpose and can boost self-esteem and financial security.
  • Those who are unemployed feel less connected to others and more lonely.
  • People who volunteer or are retired report higher levels of wellbeing and social connectedness.

Work has long been recognised as playing an important role in our lives.

Research led by Deakin University on the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index confirms that engaging in meaningful work is closely related to our wellbeing, and in particular our satisfaction with how we’re achieving in life.

Man and woman smiling and looking at fabric rolls

Grace Singh, General Manager of Community, Wellbeing and Safety at Australian Unity, acknowledges the strength of the work-life relationship.

“Given work is such a big part of our lives, it’s an inherent component of our overall wellbeing,” she says.

While work can offer us a sense of purpose, it can also affect our wellbeing in other ways. It can boost self-esteem and financial security, help build relationships and connectedness, protect against loneliness and prevent poor mental and physical health.

Workmates smiling in an office

But the link between work and wellbeing becomes even more clear when viewed in the negative.

Those who are unemployed report personal wellbeing scores well below the average range, feel less connected to others and more lonely, and are significantly less satisfied across all the domains of wellbeing—particularly when it comes to achieving in life.

Other occupations may also have an impact at different points in life—whether you’re studying, undertaking home duties or volunteering. For instance, those who volunteer or are retired report higher levels of wellbeing and social connectedness.

It’s also interesting to note that women who are engaged in any meaningful activity, as well as those who are retired, have higher wellbeing scores when compared to men.

This is particularly apparent where women are in full-time domestic and volunteering roles. Grace says the trends and gender differences we see here often come back to meaning and recognising the value of this personal contribution.

“Where you have a strong bond, or connection with a purpose, this can have a positive impact on your sense of wellbeing, whether that is through volunteering, caregiving, or more traditional work or study,” she says.

Download the 20th Anniversary Australian Unity Wellbeing Index Commemorative Report

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