Will Work for Wellness: Creating Demand by Understanding the New Job Market

On All Things Urban, we connect people from all over the spectrum and all over the world with careers in the urban sector. From what I’ve noticed, some of these jobs go a bit beyond the traditional career spectrum for urban planning or design. These days, you can easily find job titles like City Services Interaction Designer, or Urban Mobility Modelling Specialist. But despite the growing popularity amongst career goes within both the urban sector and the human-centered field, an Urban Wellbeing Specialist is still a rather rare combination to see out in the field. Why so?

To find the answer, let’s take a closer look at how these fields are developing today. Previously, we’d measure society’s success by using purely economic metrics like GDP and unemployment rates. Today, however, it’s more common to estimate and balance economic growth with quality of life. On a national and city level, policymakers across the globe are showing greater interest in human wellbeing by running amazing initiatives aimed at making citizens happier.

However, most of these projects don’t measure up to the demand for more personalized wellness programs. Currently, officials decide on metrics based on wellbeing (read “happiness”) and use administrative resources to achieve certain rates and numbers. The importance of such measures shouldn’t be downplayed, but they’re not enough: Wellbeing (as well as happiness) is not a condition that can be imposed on people; it’s a process that’s tightly related to individual choices. Therefore, it’s crucial to raise awareness on the connection between personal choices and wellbeing, so that people can make better-informed decisions.

Take nutrition as an example: roughly 100 years ago, people didn’t care about the overall quality of food or effect on our health. Nowadays, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to stick to a healthier, more quality-based lifestyle. We can attribute this partly to government efforts in prioritizing public health initiatives, but a great deal of our genuine interest in this issue comes from an increased awareness around the importance of a good diet. There are hundreds of books, courses, and YouTube channels on how to keep a balanced diet; you can’t find a shop without a shelf stocked with healthy products, and restaurants serving gourmet sugar-free dishes are becoming increasingly popular. This combination of individual responsibility and social encouragement results in a positive feedback loop, which affects not only people but businesses, too.

There’s something else indicating how mature this budding field of urban wellness and wellbeing has become: the rapidly growing rate of dieticians, nutritionists and other professionals entering this field.

So, how do we make Urban Wellbeing Specialist sound as familiar as a dietician? There are many ways to achieve this, but a key first step will be to integrate wellbeing into our day-to-day life. Imagine what the world would look like if, similarly to food labels, every developer or city service provider had some sort of ‘wellbeing fact’ rating system on display?

At the very least, this would lead to new jobs in urban wellbeing rating commissions and inspectors, which would bring about Urban Wellbeing Consultants advising companies on how to improve their score, and so on and so forth. Gradually, companies would open wellbeing R&D departments and we would see a growing number of projects in the field. This ripple effect in the field or urban planning and wellbeing would create a higher demand for specified workers while giving us, the people, clearer metrics for decision-making. All of this effort goes towards better integrating wellbeing in our daily lives.

With urbanization statistics forecasting considerable urban growth over the next thirty years, many cities are now at a turning point. Their future depends on their ability to integrate wellbeing into urban policy and in the design process. Most of all, as citizens need to ensure that this impetus comes not only from policymakers but from us, too. With more and more incredible initiatives in this field, I’m very optimistic in seeing an urban wellbeing job market becoming a prominent part of the urban ecosystem.