Ruth Morgan’s drive to help her clients align their careers with their passions didn’t just arise out of her long career in executive recruitment, it also came from her own experience growing up in a household where her father wasn’t happy in his employment.
She told Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast that she saw first-hand the negative impact her father’s dissatisfaction with his career had on the whole family.
“It was a very stressful environment, and my mom actually ended up dying at 63, which is very young,” Ruth said.
“I put that down primarily to the stressful home environment, which, bless him, because dad’s now passed away as well but, it was mainly caused by dad not being happy in his career and coming home and expressing that frustration at home.”
That insight gained at a young age was then reinforced by what Ruth saw in her work as a recruiter.
“I’d place people or I’d see people swap jobs about three times in a row, and (would see) consistent patterns emerging in their career which weren’t healthy for them. They’d throw themselves into the job. They’d be spending less time with their family, less time being able to exercise and eat well, because they were going to all these networking events and working long hours, and traveling.
“And they’d always say, ‘oh look, I’ll just follow this path for six to eight months while I get to know the business, and then I’ll just dial it back a bit and change’. And, of course, that time never comes. Once you’ve set that expectation, it’s very hard to change… I would see these people work really hard to get these jobs, have so much to offer, (but) they’d be on a road to burnout, or career fatigue, or just resentment, or it was going to take its toll on their health or their family.”
Host Bushy Martin shared with Ruth his own experience with burnout and how it negatively impacted his health and his home life.
“I was working seven days a week, fourteen hours a day, and my health crashed,” Bushy said.
“I lost my marriage, which is the biggest cost that I ever could have paid, and it was a bit of a wake-up call for me to start changing things. It was that crisis really that set me on a different course, to make sure that I wasn’t going to repeat the same mistake again. And I just talk to a lot of people who end up in a very similar situation, and quite often don’t learn a lesson.”
Working now as a career well-being and success coach, Ruth says the first step towards career fulfilment is sitting down with people and making sure that their career aligns with their values. According to Ruth, many people get to their thirties or forties and realise they don’t enjoy their work, regardless of how successful they might be, and don’t see any path to changing their situation. Ruth also helps her clients who are in a career they enjoy, but who are struggling to cope with the stresses within their role.
“A lot of people wait until they’re in the midst of a highly stressful time, or a really busy time, and then they start to think, ‘oh my God, I better implement some well-being strategies, or some meditation’,” Ruth said.
“But it’s the worst possible time to add something new to your routine. So, right now is the best time to just start, and it really comes down to the individual… depending on how people react to stress depends on what you need to do to alleviate stress.”
Ruth told Bushy that in addition to developing techniques for managing stressful periods at work, there are many other things that can be done to improve your working life without actually having to leave your current career.
“Really there are seven or eight different career decisions you can make at any one stage, so only one of them involves leaving your current career. You can tweak your role, you can move up, you can move down. You can move sideways. You can check out your options, you can stay exactly how you are, and choose to focus on the things that you really enjoy about your job, rather than choosing to focus on the 10 per cent that you don’t.
“If you’re not totally engaged at work, or being fully utilised, you can be a mentor for others. So there’s so many different things you can do. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got to throw your job in.
Ruth also works with companies to help make teams more satisfied in their employment, and, ultimately, more productive.
“PricewaterhouseCoopers’ most recent report… said that $10.9 billion a year is spent on mental health in workplaces. The cost of presenteeism is as much as $34 billion a year for Australian organisations. That’s not absenteeism where people don’t even bothering turning up to work, they’re bothering to turn up but they’re just not engaged. They’re not motivated… 60 per cent of lost work days each year are attributed to work related stress and stress related claims are costing Australian businesses more than $200 million annually… not to mention that when people are happy and their well-being is fairly high, they are far more resilient, they’re more productive, they’re more innovative and it’s about sustainable high performance.”
Ruth is continually striving for personal growth, and believes setting challenges is very important to ensure people continue to move forward. In her own life, she wants to continue to grow her business, but also help change the culture of workplaces around the world.
“My dream is to be traveling around the world, public speaking… challenging the mindset of workforces to change the way organisations engage their talent and allow them to perform…agitating at the exec level and the board level to really change the culture that they want in their organisation so that they’ve got thriving businesses with people that really want to be working there.”
Listen to the full interview with Ruth Morgan here.
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