Resilient employees live with the same challenges and stressors as everyone else. The difference is that resilient employees have developed skills and healthy coping mechanisms to protect themselves. As a result, they have lower prevalence of burnout, anxiety and on-the-job injuries — and bounce back from adversity more quickly.
It’s easy to imagine that resilient employees got lucky at birth, but research shows that workplace resilience can be taught.
Moreover, employees depend on management’s support to become and stay resilient. In this way, resilience isn’t just an individual characteristic but the marker of a healthy workplace culture.
Resilience is often described as “adaptability,” and more and more companies are recognizing the need for individual and organizational resilience as a way to adapt to change.
“The economy, the way people want to live and work, and a whole host of other factors are changing the way work gets done. Some companies are adapting right along with the changes, but many are having difficulties. Coping with today’s stressors on the job requires a different set of strategies and skills, which is why resilience is so important,” according to Psychology Today’s “The Important Ways Developing Resilience Helps You Work Better.”
Help develop and support resilient employees — read on for leadership tips you can act on today. You’ll start to see the difference right away: employees who are more responsive, energetic, engaged, creative and productive!
Start Developing Resilient Employees: 5 Things You Can Do TODAY
Resilience doesn’t blossom overnight. It takes attention and practice over time. But there’s only one way to begin. Start today by doing one or more of the following:
1. Assess Your Own Resilience
How leaders respond to stress has a big impact on employees and how they manage their own stress response. When employees “see their company’s leaders behaving counter to the culture” the company publicly espouses, it’s counterproductive and a drain on the whole workplace.
So take some time to do a self-evaluation for resilience. Try the Harvard Business Review’s “Assessment: How Resilient Are You?” — answer the questions and then take some time to reflect on your strong and weak points.
2. Start Learning Brain-Friendly Habits
Breaking bad habits and establishing better ones can feel like an uphill battle. Speed up the process by learning simple shortcuts that harness the natural neuroplasticity of your brain. The Australian organization Happy + Well a has a free ebook to help you: “10 Brain-Friendly Habits for Happiness and Wellbeing.”
From the ebook’s description: “One of the best ways to optimize your brain and your wellbeing is to increase the duration and intensity of our ‘ups’ and reduce the duration and intensity of our ‘downs’. These practices are designed to help you do just that.”
3. Schedule Lunch or Other Activity with a Coworker
One of the ways resilient employees beat stress is by developing “high-quality connections” with coworkers, according to Psychology Today. Take one action today to strengthen your work relationships. Start by scheduling a lunch (or a walk or coffee break) with a coworker you’d like to engage with and get to know better. “Respectfully engaging others and being an effective listener” is a main pathway to building high-quality relationships, according to business and psychology professor Dr. Jane Dutton.
4. Be Vulnerable One Time
Vulnerability leads to authenticity, which in turn leads to resilience. “Resilient employees work in accordance with their values and strengths,” writes Psychology Today columnist Paula Davis-Laack. She relates her personal story:
“I spent so much of my career being ‘Paula the lawyer;’ meaning, I often left the best of who I was at home and acted how I thought a lawyer should act. As I tried to do everything perfectly, my authenticity faded away.
A bunch of soldiers in the U.S. Army helped to change that. I taught resilience skills to soldiers for many years, and our training involved two things I hate: acting and dancing in public. … I almost gave myself a panic attack the first time I had to dance and the weird looks I got from the soldiers reinforced the fact that it wasn’t pretty.
Then something amazing happened. The soldiers started to talk to me about times they got embarrassed and then we started talking about deeper issues. Vulnerability feels like weakness but looks like courage to everyone else. Putting myself out there gave me the confidence to pursue loftier goals, and that feels like freedom.”
5. Thank Someone In Your Workplace
Resilient employees aren’t martyrs and don’t try to “go it alone” when they’re overwhelmed. They seek out help when they need it and likewise give support and recognition to others. Think of someone in your workplace who helped you recently and go thank them — right now! — for their assistance and encouragement. Not only is gratitude a motivator, it’s one of the best ways to build community, better relationships, and yes, resilience!
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