Due to the pandemic, millions of Americans found themselves furloughed or laid off earlier this year. Even though it was no one’s fault and totally out of anyone’s control, some people felt frustrated and sad. As businesses reopen and economic activity expands, jobs re-surface and people have the opportunity to return to work. With continuing concerns about health and safety, not everyone is sure they want to do that. Remaining out of the workforce, however, may be just as unhealthy in other ways. Losing your job hurts more than your wallet. It can impact your physical, emotional and mental health. Returning to work can reverse those negative effects. Consider these four reasons for getting off the couch and back out into the world of work.

  1. Achieve financial independence
  2. Engage in safe social interactions
  3. Feel more productive
  4. Grab the best opportunities

Achieve financial independence
Are you better off financially if you stay at home or re-enter the job market? Job loss can put a serious dent in your savings. For some people, it can put you in the uncomfortable position of having to rely on family or friends to get by. Securing a new job or returning to the one you had pre-pandemic offers a smart way to heal your finances. Most people who found themselves out of work due to the pandemic applied for unemployment insurance. While state funds are typically only a small portion of your regular income, the $600 weekly bonus from the federal government made it far more comfortable to be out of work. That level of support is unsustainable, however. Unemployment insurance, with or without extra federal payments, is designed to offer a temporary financial bridge between jobs, but it is not meant to last forever. Establishing financial security through employment can create far greater peace of mind and more opportunities for advancement. 

Engage in safe social interactions
How safe is it to return to work at this time? The CDC has provided detailed guidelines designed to reduce the spread of the disease and maintain healthy environments. There is currently no cure for COVID-19, nor is there a vaccine available or expected for a number of months. At a minimum, we may not see a viable vaccine until 2021. So, what can we do in the meantime? The medical community has been fairly consistent in its advice that the best ways to minimize transmission of the virus are to adhere to strict hygiene protocols, practice social distancing, take personal responsibility and wear a mask. We know that with the exception of those who are older or have pre-existing conditions, getting the virus is rarely serious for most people and several different treatment options are now available. Given all that and wide access to testing, employers are doing all that can be done to help us safely return to work. Human beings are inherently social. We thrive in group settings. Getting back to work offers a safe way to interact with people outside of those you live with. It’s good for both your mental and emotional well-being.

Feel more productive
Will I feel better about myself if I return to work? When you lose your job due to the coronavirus, there is no one to blame, especially yourself. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty, yet people often do. Job loss, for any reason, can be a blow to the ego. It can increase your stress level, impact your sense of accomplishment and bring on feelings of depression. That can zap your energy and dampen your enthusiasm for doing much of anything. Getting back to work reverses all these negatives. It is beneficial to your mental, physical and emotional well-being. A job can offer structure, purpose and meaning in your life. It lets you reclaim your sense of self-worth and retake the reins of control in your life.  

Grab the best opportunities
What’s the harm in waiting a bit longer? Idling at home was a novel concept when it started. It meant plenty of time to chill out and relax, but it also meant finally having the opportunity to do all those things we never seem to have enough time to get done. And maybe you actually got to cross off lots of things from your “to do” list. At the same time, the longer you are out of work, the rustier your skills may become, making it tougher to get back into the job market. The longer lockdowns last across the country, the harder it becomes for smaller businesses to survive. Knowing that some jobs will disappear completely, even as new positions are created, it makes sense to grab the best opportunities early on to avoid a prolonged period of joblessness. 

It’s time
Everyone is employing new rules about sanitation and social distancing to ensure health and safety. Most workplaces look different and operate with new policies and protocols designed to keep people virus-free. Some jobs continue as before, while others undergo change. That means it’s decision time: Are you ready to seize the opportunity? Returning to work is a healthy alternative to unemployment.