You and your role

You and your role


What does ‘You and your role’ mean?


In this section, we are looking at how you feel about your role, particularly focused on three different aspects:

  • Your job engagement (which refers to how dedicated you are to your job and how enthusiastic you feel about it, how absorbed and immersed you get in your work – that feeling that hours fly by when you work, and how energetic and enlivened you feel by your job).
  • Your job control (sometimes called autonomy, which means how much choice and control you have over decisions to do with where, how and when you work). As a business traveller, particularly important is how much choice you get over your business trips; meaning whether you are able to take decisions such as when you travel, how often you travel, for how long you go for, how you travel, and where you stay).
  • Your work-life balance (meaning the extent to which you feel that the amount of time and energy you spend working, compared to non non-work activities is about right for you).



Why is engagement, work life balance and job control important?


Employees that are engaged, have a good level of job control and have achieved work life balance are more likely to be happy and healthy at work; as well as more satisfied with their role and being able to do a better job. What research has found however is that for business travellers, achieving these three things can be difficult. Although the lure of international travel is initially very motivating, we have found that over time, this initial excitement pales, and business travel can start to feel more of a burden. This in turn means that those who have been travelling with work longer are less likely to still be engaged.  Engagement however is particularly important; in our research we found that it was one of the strongest predictors of mental health in business travellers. This means that trying to keep business travellers motivated and enthusiastic about their role is also likely to result in them remaining happier and healthier.


Increasing job control is one of the single most important evidence based recommendations in the mental health at work literature.  Unfortunately research has shown that over a third of business travellers don’t feel that they do have enough choice and control over their business trips; and therefore this is likely to be one of the reasons for a higher prevalence of mental ill health in business travellers than non-travelling colleagues. Although having a good work life balance is important, we have also found that nearly 40% of business travellers don’t feel that they achieve this balance and that their work life encroaches on their social time. This is perhaps not surprising given the majority of travellers reporting working significantly longer hours than normal.



How can I feel more in control, engaged and have a better balance between work and home?


Generally the answer lies in a combination of personal factors (changes that you can make to the way that you think and behave) and job factors (changes that can be made in your role). Some of the job factors (for instance poor leadership and management,  job insecurity or a lack of resources), might be outside of your control. That said, by taking some of the recommended steps below, you will be able to work towards better protecting your mental health in the future.



Tip, suggestions and resources to build engagement, job control and work-life balance.


Role Domain




1. Review your role

Consider what elements of your role you feel enthusiastic about – and which you don’t. What would make you feel more engaged – could it be improving your progression and development prospects, changing the way you are managed or is about focusing on your travel? By gaining more self awareness about the parts of our role that are fulfilling us and those that are inhibiting us, we are more able to move towards change. The Action planning tool will help you to identify those elements particular to your business travel. Once you have gone through this process, try applying it to your wider role.


2. Develop your optimism

Optimism has been identified as one of the key thinking styles that drives engagement. This free self-help tool provides an introduction to the concept of learned optimism and a worksheet of Seligman's ABCDE Disputation technique based on the principles of learned optimism.


Job Control

3. Take control of your business trip

Having choice over when and how much you travel is particularly key in reducing negative psychological implications of business travel. Discuss with your friends and family about the most suitable trip times and durations. Speak to your manager about any aspects of the trip you are not comfortable with and be prepared to refuse to travel if that is the right thing to do.

Once you have applied this to your business travel, try considering how to get more control in your wider job. Could it be by saying no to excessive pressures? By doing this, you are also likely to increase your work-life balance.

Job Control

4. Invest time in planning

It has been consistently found that planning is a key protective factor in terms of mitigating the psychological risk of international business travel, and it is a great way to feel more in control. This refers both to planning what will happen (such as where you might go for a run when you are away) and what could happen (such as if a team member back in the office who is picking up your work goes off sick). Have a go at using this Planning and coping tool to build this skill.

Work life balance

5. Build in respite and recovery before, during and after the trip

Use ‘downtime’ at the airport and on the plane to rest and recover rather than working. Whilst on the trip, build in and schedule downtime and relaxation into your day. Following the trip, take time to recuperate, either at home on leave, working from home or at the destination by taking ‘bleisure’ time. Try and apply this approach whereby you prioritise and schedule your downtime to the rest of your role. By taking this time to rest and relax from work, you will be more likely to stay at work without ill health for longer.

Work life balance

6. Leave work at work

When you are away from work, try to actually switch off. You might do this practically by turning off email alerts or your phone when you have left work, or by taking exercise, meeting friends or going for a walk. You might do this psychologically by using a practice such as mindfulness or meditation. Although one of a number of evidence-based tools in the market, Headspace is a course of guided meditation sessions and Mindfulness training which can be accessed either online or through a mobile app. Headspace have a free 10 session programme, Take10, where you can learn the basics of meditation, however further courses require a paid subscription.

Another recommended tool with one of the largest libraries of guided meditation is Insight Timer



For evidence based tools and guidance across a whole range of health and wellbeing topics, please access: