World Health Organization considers stress the ‘health epidemic of the 21st century’. The modern workplace has added tremendously to the stress, anxiety and depression of the workforce, and it doesn’t look like this situation will improve anytime soon. Many workplaces present challenges to employees such as excessive workload, lack of autonomy, bullying, organizational restructuring, and also the lack of managerial support for teamwork.
Globalization was supposed to bring modern living to the masses but has brought its own problems. People used to find down time for themselves which they used to rejuvenate and refresh themselves. But with international customers and partner organizations that work out of different time zones, down time that everyone needs erodes. There is no longer one job for life, and almost everyone is hopping companies for better opportunities. Which means they have to readjust their working lives every time there’s a change. Moreover, the pace of technological advancement demands that employees constantly update their skills and expertise. All these factors invariably lead to a stressful employees and disaffected performance. The most common disadvantages of stress are decreased productivity, downward spiraling motivation, and higher staff turnover.
One way through which managers are helping employees is by training them for resilience. Resilience is the ability of a person to cope well with the highs and lows of professional life, while being able to bounce back from challenges. Resilience can be said to be a person’s ability to work with adversity, maintain equilibrium, have a sense of control over their environment, and to move ahead in a positive manner. However, resilience is more than just coping with adverse situations. At the workplace, resilience is the employee’s ability to handle anything, from a tough project to uncooperative colleagues. A resilient employee is one who displays adaptive, learning, and networking behaviors in the workplace. They almost always leverage their resources and skills to contribute towards the organization’s goals, while taking care of their personal well-being.
However, it is not only an inborn trait. It is true that personal characteristics, context, and previous experiences of adversity play an important natural role in building adversity. But with continuous development and reinforcement, employees can be trained to be resilient in their endeavors. This will have lasting positive impact on the growth of the organization. Resilient employees do better than others in crisis management, and in fact may become more effective in response to a crisis.
Boosting Workplace Resilience
Resilience is not just a workplace ethic, but a personality trait. It goes beyond how an employee works, and is in fact, a reflection of who he is. Even today, there is no clear consensus on how much effort is needed to build resilience among employees. But it is apparent that an organization of resilient people will always be confident of facing any adverse situations, and rise to find solutions in line with the organizational goals.
Here are the top five ways in which you can build a great workplace environment for boosting resilience in your employees:
1. Physical Wellbeing
Managers should guide and encourage their team members to pursue healthy lifestyles. Physically active people have better mental health, and are already on a path to building resilience. As our styles of functioning become more sedentary, employees can get caught up in everyday race. Regular awareness and reinforcement of the importance of physical well-being should be a part of the HR’s goals.
Some ways in which management can contribute to this:
- Make sure that all snacks made available to the staff are healthy
- Reward schemes and recognition for practices such as bike-to-work
- Offer counselling support to quit smoking and positive drinking culture
2. Healthy Environments
Studies have shown that employees perform consistently better when they are comfortable in their work environment. Moreover, people tend to work longer hours for the organization when they are clear about their role in the workplace. Creating a healthy psychological environment is a fundamental way to ensure employees are enthusiastic about their work and what they can deliver.
The management should try and make the workplace a pleasant and happy environment. Here are a few things they can do:
- Create an open and trusting management style and atmosphere
- Develop awareness among managers about mental issues
- Job security is an important part of employee motivation
- Ensure manageable workloads for employees
- Requisite training for greater roles and new employees
- Offer fair treatment
- Hard work deserves recognition
3. Develop Strong Workplace Support
Different people adapt to challenging work conditions in different ways. However, they all do require reassurance and support. Knowing that their manager will have their backs and provide support goes a long way in motivating employees. It is not all about formal training and development. Sometimes, the easiest way for management to boost employee motivation is by encouraging informal conversations among peers rather than the top-down management interaction. Research shows that employees are many times more likely to respond to these conversations to figure out what is lacking in their approach, and how they can become better at their responsibilities. Management should try and boost positive interaction with employees, and help build a great workplace where they can work with ease.
4. Personal Development Training
Employees can be trained to help themselves become more resilient at work. Those with resilience tend to be have a strong sense of purpose in their work, and a positive attitude. Organizations will do well to invest in training that will improve the attitudes and performance of their teams in business, as well as in personal relationships. Resilience training is not a magic pill which will make everyone a more effective at sales. However, training can help inculcate positive behaviors among employees which will have a strong impact on the company’s bottom line.
Some ways in which employees should be trained to help themselves:
- Nurturing positive relationships with friends and family as social interaction is vital to good mental health
- Reframing perspective to see problems as opportunities to excel and achieve, rather than another drudgery
- Staying calm and avoiding drama when in crisis, to ensure that the focus is on solving the problem
- Rest is important for rejuvenation by encouraging periodic breaks, work-life balance and holidays
- Employees should be taught to practice mindfulness and meditation to confront and manage stress in work life
5. Shape a Positive Organizational culture
Management should try and shape company culture and systems to encourage learning and peer collaboration. In absence of formal guidelines, employees decide how important learning and collaboration is to their organization based on existing practices, norms, and systems. To encourage positive behavior that builds resilience, organizations have to clearly priorities performance and development, formally recognize higher learning and collaborative efforts through rewards. The management should invest in technologies that support knowledge sharing.