Learning To Create Workplace Resilience

The Oxford English Dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”

Nowhere is this ability more needed than in our current work culture which, thanks to technology, surrounds us 24/7 with the pressure to get things done. “Currently, a quarter of all employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” states a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “5 Ways to Boost Your Resilience at Work.”

The good news, says HBR, is that we actually can learn how to be more resilient in all aspects of our lives. “More than five decades of research point to the fact that resilience is built by attitudes, behaviors and social supports that can be adopted and cultivated by anyone.” And this is supported by neuroscience as well as behavioral and organizational research.

How Employees Can Build Workplace Resilience

Some effective tips offered by the HBR article include:

  • Practice Mindfulness – Learn how to practice this stress-relieving skill of handling just the present moment rather than the entire day. “Social psychologists Laura Kiken and Natalie Shook, for example, have found that mindfulness predicts judgment accuracy and insight-related problem solving, and cognitive neuroscientists Peter Malinowski and Adam Moore found that mindfulness enhances cognitive flexibility.”

There are many, many techniques for reaching mindfulness. Taking slow, deep breaths is key here. Please stay tuned or refer to many of my past articles for more ideas.

  • Compartmentalize To Help Brain Function – Breaking data into chunks handled one at a time helps us more easily process the myriads of information coming at us each day. “Create dedicated times in the day to do specific work-related activities and not others…much the way you might create a dedicated time for physical exercise in the course of your day.”

When it is time to finish up that last-minute presentation, turn off your phone and emails and focus in on that one thing. Then, when it is time to connect with your loved one, step away from the computer. It’s about honing in on that one essential activity for that particular moment.

  • Be Good To Yourself – This involves:
    • Taking regular breaks to totally detach from the work process “for even a few minutes to reset energy and attention.” It can preserve energy and prevent burnout in the long run. Deep breaths, a yoga class, massage or a walk along the block are some ways to detach and let our bodies and minds find solace.
    • Building compassion for yourself and others. “According to research cited by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, compassion increases positive emotions, creates positive work relationships, and increases cooperation and collaboration,” states HBR.

Each time you may find yourself getting irritated with yourself or others, be open to shifting to a more compassionate view of yourself or the other person. We all really are, after all, doing the best we can with the “tools” we have on hand at that particular moment. Expanding our emotional and spiritual “tool box” is one way to shift toward greater compassion.

What Employers Can Do

The Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) website provides effective ways for employers to help their employees build resilience in their workplace, and two are particularly worth noting.

  • Offer Mindfulness And Resilience Training – Studies prove that resilience is a skill that can be learned, so these programs teach employees “to feel empowered, confident, proactive and decisive. It teaches them not to view difficulties as paralyzing events, but rather as challenges.” Mindfulness training will “improve their awareness of the present moment, rather than being consumed by unhelpful, stress-inducing, thought processes.” We at Authentic Leadership International can offer many ideas here.
  • Create A Supportive Culture – REBA cites research “demonstrating that a supportive workplace environment in which employees feel empowered can help enhance employees’ stress-management capabilities.”

Providing employees with the option of a safe space for “putting it all out there” that coaching provides is one important way companies can show their employees that they care.

Employees and employers need to begin collaborating on ways to build resilience to work stress. In the end, this will make both the company and those who work for it more productive, creative and fulfilled – leading to stronger bottom-line results.

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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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