“Lean On Me!”

We know through our positive experiences in delivering IPS that client motivation is paramount. It is the biggest predictor of a successful, sustainable job outcome. But how does a client who is already battling barriers to employment such as poor mental health, a learning disability, or life on low income benefits stay motivated and remain hopeful of employment in the shifting employment landscape of lockdown Britain?

Work out Why! – One of the most important questions we must ask ourselves is “Why do I do what I do?”. When getting to know our clients, using the vocational profile, we ask the seemingly simple question, ‘Why do you want to work?’, we explore where the desire to work comes from. What did you want to be when you were younger? Who and what were/are your inspirations? When you know what it is you want to do and why you want to do it you can carry this with you and revisit the essence of your purpose when motivation takes a dip.

I want to help others become what they were meant to become. To watch someone grow, even grow a little, brings me joy and satisfies my purpose. It’s the tick to my tock and I remind myself of this when I need to reset. Why do you do what you do? Why do you want to work? Focusing on your purpose and not the ‘What ifs’ helps an individual to stay focused, in control and motivated

Good News Stories – It is more important than ever to spread good news! Sharing the successes of others can inspire and reassure us all that we can move forward during these unprecedented times.

A client of a colleague found paid work in the community last week and wrote passionately and eloquently about the “Odyssey” he had been on to reach his destination, specifically employment, he felt like a “Hero”, supported by his “Goddess” Employment Specialist. I found this moving, inspiring, and somewhat epic!

The Employment Specialist – Shift the responsibility for the client back on to yourself, say to the client, ‘Lean on me’. If a client can see you working for them, believing in them, knowing that many have found work, then that will motivate. Make it clear to the client that ‘we may not have all the answers, but together we can work it out’. Consider the following:Lean on each other

  • Employer Engagement: If the client knows you are engaging employers on their behalf, even if this is by phone, video call or by some socially distanced face to face method, that’s a powerful message that you believe in the client and is very motivating.
  • CVs: Review the CV. Work with the client, email back and forth with ideas, keep it alive, like my colleague’s sourdough starter, keep feeding the CV positively and honestly, pointing out your client’s qualities; again, this can be really motivating.
  • Job Searching: There is no reason for the job search to stop entirely, providing that you want to find work. There are the obvious online resources, Indeed, Reed and DWP sites like Job Help or Find a Job, but endlessly scrolling for opportunities can become demoralising, so limit your on-screen time and methodically search every couple of days. Don’t forget vacancies advertised on social media, this is a popular, and cost free, method for employers to advertise roles, particularly during these uncertain times.
  • Cast the net wider: There is no doubt about it, the employment landscape has changed and will continue to do so as lockdown eases. So, during this state of flux there is an opportunity to try going for jobs that you wouldn’t have considered previously, without signing your life away to a career you never asked for. However, life is not linear and a temporary job in a different sector from what you first imagined may be a vital stepping stone to where you want to be, it may prove to be a surprisingly good fit!

Be brave. “At this point in your life you are not where you want to be. Be brave, but take your time.” Baroness Morris.

Optimism.  I spoke to one of my own clients last week. He had been handing out CVs to potential employers and felt good about being proactive. I did ask him how he was bearing up, how he was coping with COVID-19,

I feel optimistic, actually. I have had no joy for years finding work, but I think this whole situation has opened up chances for me, I’m trying for jobs I never thought would be there for me. I think we’ll get there.”

This is an individual with many complicated barriers to employment, who hasn’t had the confidence to go for jobs for many years, but I have found his motivation and ability to view this ‘new normal’ as an opportunity. I certainly found his bravery and optimism inspiring. Indeed, through my conversations with clients generally and remarks in the media, it seems many who have battled with anxieties are well equipped, mentally, to deal with lockdown pragmatically and positively, having spent the time to gain insight into their mental health, wellbeing and self-care; that’s the kind of person you want on your team, working for you. Such strength and determination is both inspiring and motivating.


So, whilst the lockdown roller coaster will most likely be in motion for some time, we can take time out and step off, taking control of that ride before our motivation takes the big dip. Take time to know yourself. Reflect on what techniques and tips work for you. Carry your purpose with you and help others remain motivated by proactively offering practical support and reminding those individuals of their strengths.

Now excuse me, it’s 6:30am, Thunderstruck is up next on my playlist and I’ve got to run.


Matthew Morris, Employment Officer