Resilience at work toolkit? Why do we need that? We spend a huge amount of our lives at work and yet often it’s cited as one of the major sources of stress. We know that the world is changing rapidly and frequently organisations and individuals are unable to keep up with that unprecedented pace of change. The result? Stress and burnout. Working for a Healthier Tomorrow the 2008 report authored by Dame Carol Black recognised business as a key player in promoting adult health and wellbeing. But still we lose an average of 17 million work days due to stress, anxiety and depression according to the Mental Health Foundation. The World Health Organisation has named stress as the ‘health epidemic of the 21st century’ The antidote? Resilience. Take a walk through our resilience at work toolkit where we examine what it is, the latest resilience research and how to develop more of the stuff. Step inside and we’ll show you how to keep calm and carry on.
Resilience at Work Toolkit: What is Resilience?
We like to describe resilience as the ability to bounce back but if you’re looking for something a little more scientific there are several definitions. Wilson and French (2005) state that;
“Resilience refers to the psychological ability to let go of old internal structures of thinking and behaving that over the years have given us a sense of stability and coherence; as well, resilience refers to our ability create and reintegrate new structures of thinking and behaving that provide us with a more mature sense of coherence”.
Defined as ‘the process of negotiating, managing and adapting to significant sources of stress or trauma’ (Windle & Bennett 2011) and ‘the ability of an individual to adjust to adversity, maintain equilibrium … and continue to move on in a positive manner’ (Jackson, Firtko & Edenboriugh (2007). More than simply ‘coping’ here at Positive Change Guru, we like to think of it as a set of skills and abilities to help you maintain your equilibrium, to manage life at work and at home. The really good news? It’s not something that you’re born with. It’s something that you can learn and that’s where we’re going next.
Resilience at Work Toolkit: What Hinders Workplace Resilience?
There are many situations in the modern workplace that threaten resilience.
- Poor management or leadership (it’s true that people leave bad managers not bad organisations)
- Command and control leadership style
- Micro management and lack of autonomy
- Workload (excessive workload and lack of pressure will also result in stress)
- Organisation change and restructure
- Lack of security
- Remote working
- Global teams working with different time zones
- The advent of the gig economy and decline of a job ‘for life’
- The need to constantly update skills and expertise
- A culture of blame
- Working excessive hours and this being seen as a mark of commitment (it isn’t)
If you recognise some or all of the above points, the changes are that you’re organisation is standing in it’s own way when it comes to resilience. What to do?
Resilience at Work Toolkit: Building Resilience at Work
There are a plethora of strategies that you can adopt to build resilience at work. Based on our experience of working with FTSE 200 companies, here’s our pick of the crop in our Resilience at Work Toolkit.
Promoting Physical Wellbeing
We’re increasingly learning from research that there is a key link between the mind and the body. Physical wellbeing is closely linked to mental health and boosting it brings an array of benefits. Here are some tactics to improve your working environment.
Exercise. Encourage breaks, especially lunch. Make it part of workplace culture to leave desks at lunchtime and go for a walk. We know that a walk in green space offers a greater return on investment for time and wellbeing so organise lunchtime walking groups. Consider walking meetings or one to ones. Introduce bike to work schemes or recognition for staff who walk to work where possible.
Hydrate. Have a supply of drinking water available for staff.
Healthy Eating. Ditch unhealthy vending machines and provide fresh fruit and nuts for snacking.
Keep Drinking Dry. If you have a culture of going to pubs or bars after work, look for opportunities to meet up that don’t involve alcohol.
Create a Healthy Workplace Culture
A happy workplace is a healthy workplace. Research in the field of positive psychology increasingly demonstrates that engaged, happy employees report feeling more resilient. Is a happy workplace the holy grail? We think not. Here’s how to create one.
- Embrace failure. Adopt a growth mindset approach to work. Embed it in your culture. Recognise mistakes as the route to mastery and ditch the blame culture. Utilise black box thinking and learn from failure. Refine and constantly improve by creating an environment where employees are encouraged to identify and report failure, enabling them to constantly improve.
- Practice compassion. Start by modelling compassionate behaviours (including self compassion) at leadership level.
Promote transformational leadership and an atmosphere of openness and trust.
- Place wellbeing and resilience firmly on the agenda with leaders and managers. Examine your systems, values and mission statement, where can you begin to place wellbeing at the core of your organisation?
Align your strategy with individual workloads. Stretching experiences will create flow or optimum performance for your employees but too much and they’ll tip into stress. Talk to your teams to discover what is too much (or too little).
- Encourage autonomy. Micro management comes up time after time with many of our clients as a major bugbear. In workplace motivation and performance studies (think Dan Pink or Christine Porath and Gretchen Spritzers work on sustainable high performing teams) micro management has been identified as a hugely demotivating management style. It will stifle innovation and mightily irritate your staff.
- Be fair. Integrity is key when you’re creating a healthy, functional workplace. Lack of parity in the workplace will demotivate and disillusion good people who will eventually leave.
- Recognise and reward behaviours that encourage wellbeing and build resilience.
- Be flexible. Whether it’s offering flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home, the more supportive you are to staff to easier it will be to build trust and support. All great ingredients for a resilient workplace.
- Compassionate coaching. The evidence base for compassionate coaching is astounding. The act of compassionate coaching alone has been found to build resilience in the coach and coaches. Case Western Professor Richard Boyatwzis found that adopting a model of compassionate coaching benefits everyone in the organisation.
- Encourage support networks. Connection and support is key to mental health and wellbeing. Encourage networks in work and outside of it.
- Server downtime. Take a leaf out of VW’s book and limit server access. This is a strategy that has been adopted successfully by a handful of our clients. Limiting server access after a specific time of night will prevent employees burning the midnight oil and discourage a culture of constant sacrifice (see below).
- Promote renewal. Often organisations develop a culture where sacrifice is seen as a badge of honour or (an erroneous) sign of commitment. Who can stay the latest becomes a competition that no one really wants to play but everyone gets sucked into. Make it explicit that renewal is just as important as sacrifice by modelling behaviours at the highest level. Make sure that your people take breaks, leave on time, take their annual leave and don’t email at silly o’clock in the morning to demonstrate just how busy they are.
We have a range of free resources, blogs, podcasts and toolkits that will help you boost resilience at work so why not take a look? We also provide bitesize, half day and one day resilience at work training courses along with stress management consultancy. If you’d like more information drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to hear from you.
If you’d like to learn more about managing stress, burnout and anxiety at work take a look at our new Online Developing Resilience Training Course