Being out work carries more than financial consequences to the individual. One of the most important sequelae is the negative impact on self-esteem and to the sense of well-being and adjustment.
Having a meaningful activity provides many non-economic benefits. These may include giving a consistent time structure to the day; self-esteem through achievement and self-satisfaction; the respect of others; an opportunity for physical and mental activity; a setting where to use one’s skills; and frequent interpersonal contact.
When Bohb Jadhav’s architecture firm reduced its staff by 30 percent a year ago, he turned a cozy Park Slope coffee shop, with its sitcom-style mismatched furniture and a rotating gallery of local art on the walls, into his new work space. For six hours each day, Mr. Jadhav takes up residence in one of the comfy, oversized chairs, works on his future plans, and indulges in occasional, workday-like breaks for coffee, cigarettes, lunch and general kibitzing. Mr. Jadhav says the stimulating environment, the hum of ceiling fans, music and conversation, was a crucial bulwark against the feelings of desperation that followed the loss of his job. ”This place is critical to my sanity,” he says. “If I was at home I’d be more easily distracted. And it’s nice to have the company of others. It’s like working with the TV on.”
The New York Times Nov. 27, 2009
Very often, the loss of these psychosocial benefits of employment is at least as important as loss of income to the stress levels and overall health of unemployed people.