The resilient workplace was the leading culture trend for 2016, according Forbes contributor and meQuilibrium co-founder Jan Bruce.
Maintaining a resilient workplace culture is replacing simple “stress relief,” which she says is too little too late.
The true antidote to stress is resilience.
“We don’t just need to ‘calm down’ or ‘relax.’ Instead, it’s important to have the competence to manage those thoughts that actually exacerbate stress in the first place,” Bruce writes. “Through resilience, you can regain control of a situation. You can’t escape stress, but you can smartly confront it through resilient behavior.”
A resilient workplace culture engages employees and helps them develop the skills to bounce back faster from stress, change and other work disruptions. Read on for practical tips in building resiliency in your workplace — for a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
5 Signs of a Resilient Workplace
The resilience of a workplace is only as strong as the habits of its employees! That’s why it’s so vital that top brass and managers model resilient behaviors. It sets the tone for all employees and creates a company-wide culture of resiliency built on a “do as I do” ethos.
1. Well-Slept Employees
In her new book “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time,” Arianna Huffington argues that “in today’s fast-paced, always-connected, perpetually-harried and sleep-deprived world, our need for a good night’s sleep is more important — and elusive — than ever.”
Huffington talked about the link between resiliency, sleep and work in a recent interview: “When we take care of ourselves and again, this is scientifically based, we become more resilient when we’re fully recharged. […] Sleep deprivation is very connected to lack of resilience, to anxiety, to depression, all these things that get in the way of achieving our goals,” she said.
One corporation taking a lead on changing sleep habits is Aetna, where CEO Mark Bertolini introduced a program that pays employees up to $500 to sleep. Participants track their sleep and get $25 for each night they sleep seven or more hours.
Huffington has praised the Aetna program in interviews, telling CNBC that “it really changes the cultural delusion that most businesses have been operating under, which has been … the more exhausted and burned-out the employees are, the more productive they are.”
Most importantly, it’s a “huge shift in terms of recognizing and prioritizing sleep,” and “that message is coming from the top of the corporation, coming from the CEO.”
2. Flexible Space
From a design perspective, does your workplace encourage collaboration and co-ownership? According to the interior design magazine Contract, how a workplace is designed has a direct impact on employee resilience:
“A resilient workplace requires a shift in the way we think about, use and value space and highlights the need to establish feedback loops in order to adapt to and replicate what works. It also requires a shift to a more science-based understanding of the nuances of human behavior. Ultimately, the main source of resiliency is people. Thus, we need to shape the workplace and its support system to provide the experiences that promote the human capacity to be creative—both individual and organizational—in the face of challenges both external and internal.”
Specifically, the resilient workplace uses space in a way that creates a sense of sharing and collaboration, allows for flexibility and has “dispersed functionality,” among other design features.
3. Diversity of Thought
Diversity of thought is key to building a resilient workplace, according to leadership and engagement consultant Eileen McDargh.
In a LinkedIn post, she writes that “if everyone in an organization looked alike, spoke alike and thought alike, in time the organization would shrivel and disappear. […] Failure to listen to others who offer a contrary viewpoint can hamper progress, profitability and performance.”
Beyond hiring from a diverse pool of candidates, McDargh has three suggestions for increasing resilience-building diversity. First, seek out the opinions of young or new employees who are “un-jaded by politics or personalities.” Secondly, ask those closest to the action for their input (they offer an invaluable perspective!). Thirdly, encourage workplace learning, and learning from coworkers in particular.
4. Strong Relationships
People who bounce back tend to have a network of supportive people around them, says Dalhousie University resilience researcher Michael Ungar, as quoted in the Fast Company article “6 Habits of Resilient People.”
Resilient workplaces help facilitate strong relationships by encouraging team-building activities, frequent employee celebrations and regular interdepartmental communication — and by being committed to kindness.
Despite the proven benefits of workplace gratitude, “a growing body of studies reveal the prevalence of what the Wall Street Journal has coined as the workplace gratitude deficit,” writes Psychology Today contributor Madelyn Blair in “Why Resilient Leaders Need to Embrace Gratitude.”
Only 10 percent of respondents in a recent survey reported actually expressing thanks to peers, direct reports or clients on any given day. Yet the very same survey respondents agreed nearly unanimously on the importance of workplace gratitude.
“This data is surprising,” Blair writes, “especially given other research that shows companies that emphasize employee recognition are 12 times more likely to reap strong business results.”
In times of stress, gratitude shifts the focus away from what went wrong to what’s going well — and suddenly, everyone is focused on finding solutions instead of placing blame.
So why isn’t workplace gratitude more prevalent? The disconnect originates in leadership. When leaders don’t model gratitude, employees definitely won’t. But when leaders promote gratitude and daily appreciation, it has a ripple effect that helps inspire a culture of resilience!
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