I don’t believe in the ‘dream job’.

I would describe myself as a realist when it comes to work. I’m not sure if a dream job exists. My dreams tend to be filled of lying on a beach, reading books, doing whatever I like, rather than working. But just because I don’t dream about work doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy, or care about what I do for a living.

My aspiration has always been to have a job I didn’t dread. A job that doesn’t have a detrimental impact on my mental health. I want to feel I am doing something with purpose even if it’s not saving the world. I need to feel safe, to belong. I think that should be the bare minimum for everyone. Work doesn’t need to be somewhere you would rather be than on a beach – but it should be somewhere you feel safe.

Through The Work Project, Home found that 2 out of 10 people feel physically and mentally worse for being at work.

When earning money is a necessity for the overwhelming majority, the fact that people are having to endure a situation that is detrimental to their own physical and mental health is an upsetting and difficult reality.

On top of this, 1 in 4 people have felt discriminated against at work – and considering that 30% of people don’t feel safe to speak up if something isn’t right in the workplace, then where do we go from here?

If people are in situations where they feel unsafe, and unable to speak up about it, then inevitably they will just look to leave that situation if they can. In fact, 83% of people who have experienced discrimination at work are looking for a new job.

Uncovering this uncomfortable reality is why research and statistics such as these are so important. Statistics have the luxury of being anonymous. They don’t put the onus on individuals to be brave enough to confront a more senior staff member when their livelihood is on the line – or speak out when they feel unable to do so.

I don’t have all the answers here, but I do believe a level of self-critical, compassion for others is good for all. Reading statistics like these, it’s easy to believe “Well that’s not my workplace, that’s not me – someone would tell me if I’d upset them!”. But as the evidence shows, 1/3 of people wouldn’t. If there’s anything of a ‘takeaway’ I could give, it would be to be proactive, don’t wait for people to “speak up” – they often won’t. Be self-critical of how you interact with others, manage, or communicate. There are so many wonderful organisations out there doing research and giving guidance on workplace mental and physical safety, just have a Google!

I know I am one of the lucky ones.

So, until I find that vacancy for reading a book on a beach, I’ll focus on doing my best to make sure everyone I work with feels better for being in work.


Download The Work Project here to take a deeper dive into the stats!

The Work Project 2023