Get Tough: How to Build Workplace Resiliency

Resiliency: why do we want it and how do we get it in the workplace?

Perseverance and resilience green weeds grew in a waterless desert.
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With the growing concern of mental health issues taking its toll on workplaces, HR departments are considering how they can respond. Can HR teach employees to have more grit or greater resiliency to workplace stressors?

What is workplace resiliency? It is the employee’s ability to bounce back or respond to workplace challenges, changes and setbacks.

Ernie Philip a Senior Vice President at Xerox Canada believes workplace resiliency training is key to an organization’s success. Many studies have illustrated that organizations with greater resiliency have lower absenteeism, better engagement and happier workers. According to Ernie Philip: “Resilient people are happier and have higher life-satisfaction.”

Click here to read about workplace resiliency from Ernie Philp’s perspective.

It may be time for HR Departments to consider resiliency training as part of the overall wellness initiatives.

Discussion Questions

  1. Develop a presentation on the components of a workplace resiliency training program.
  2. Imagine your organization has just implemented a resiliency training program. What matrices would you recommend to evaluate the resiliency program?

Talent Champion

Who to develop?

superhero businessman looking at city skyline at sunset. the concept of success, leadership and victory in business.
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The psychological contract of a lifetime of work with one employer is long gone. In our globalized workplace it was replaced with the concept of developing oneself in the workplace.

According to Daphne Woolf, many senior leaders are not as good at developing talent in others as they think they are or as they should be. Her video illustrates the concepts of “Talent Champion who understand that they are responsible for developing others more than developing themselves and if they don’t have this skill set it can be developed.

Many successful senior leaders obtained their position by being operational experts in their industry, not necessarily talent experts. But when they reach that senior level they must be both an operational expert and a talent champion.

Click here to watch a video with Daphne Wolf

Daphne Wolf believes a Talent Champion can be developed by doing the following:

  • Assessing the senior executive strengths in developing others.
  • Embed the concept in the senior executive that developing others is a fundamental responsibility of their role.
  • Give them the skills and strategies on how to mentor others.

Developing Talent Champions within an organization needs to become a proactive activity not just a passive activity. This can only happen if the senior executive is naturally affiliated to develop others. HR departments need to take a leadership role in ensuring that the coaching and mentoring of others is a core competency of all senior executives.

Discussion Questions

  1. Research to see if you can find a simple but effective mentoring-others self-assessment tool.
  2. Once you have found a tool use it to measure yourself on your ability to mentor others. Where are your strengths and where are your areas of improvement?
  3. Review some senior executive’s job description. Determine if they have ‘developing others’ as part of their job description. If so, identify some common terminology.

Feedback and Job Fit

The workplace recipe of success.

Cropped image of sports girl who is switching on her fitbit before training while standing in fitness hall
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Fitbit is a wearable technology with the goal to make you a healthier person. Fitbit’s success comes from the constant feedback that allows the individual to monitor performance and make adjustments and continually move towards the performance goal.

The principles of constant feedback that Fitbit wearers use is remarkably similar to Joseph Folkman’s research collected from over 400,000 employees. His thesis states that individual development is a significant driver of employee engagement. He has proposed there are four key areas to help employee engagement and to no one’s surprise the focus is on feedback and job fit.

The four areas are:

  1. Bosses have to be skilled at giving feedback
  2. Employees need to be involved in development decisions
  3. Employee recognition is key
  4. The better the job fit the better the performance

None of these above insights should be new to the HR professional but what is interesting is that according to Folkman’s research, leaders who excel in these four areas have employees that are in the 80th percentile of employee satisfaction and engagement. Now that is something to strive for!

Click here to read greater details regarding Joseph Folkman’s research.

When looking at improving employee engagement remember feedback and job fit are key elements to have as part of your HR performance management system.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research an additional article on employee engagement. Compare and contrast Joseph Foklman’s conclusion to your research article points.
  1. As feedback is key to employee engagement, what type of performance management system would you recommend to a manufacturing organization with 500 employees?

The ‘David and Goliath’ of Employee Training

In the ring, in the red corner, we have big business who weighs in with the multi-million dollar employee training budgets. In the blue corner, we have small business with their limited training budgets. How do these two contenders stack up? Let’s see what the Canadian federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) has to say.

Click Here to Read the Article

The above “Tale of the Tape” opens up a very real HR issue for small businesses. On-the-Job (OTJ) employee training has the potential to be a significant lost cost for small businesses.

All businesses, whether big or small, can benefit from the transactional and strategic advice of an HR professional.  Are there costs with hiring an HR professional for a small business? Of course there are; however, there are also costs associated with poor employee engagement and high turnover rates – an HR professional can be instrumental in helping the small business improve upon these potential losses.

Small businesses can use the expertise of an HR professional to:

  • Recruit employees with a better fit
  • Evaluate training to improve effectiveness and efficiency
  • Reduce training costs overall

Small businesses need to become more aware of the what as HR professional can do to evaluate and impove the true costs associated with employee training.

Discussion Question:

  1. Create a short presentation to deliver at a convention of small business owners.  Your presentation should illustrate the importance of on-the-job training and how an HR professional can help improve training and reduce associated costs.

Mentoring for Mutual Gains

Two heads graphic
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What does it take to be a mentor in this generation-defined age of boomers, gen-xes, gen-ys, and millennials?  Typically, we hear of the gaps that exist from one generation’s understanding of the next.  These gaps are often created by negative perceptions of each other, resulting in a premise that the younger generation must adapt and learn from their elders. From this, we end up with traditional mentoring models that have a one-sided mentor-mentee flow. There is heavy emphasis on the mentee being on the receiving end of that flow as sage wisdom pours down from the more experienced and mature mentor.

The traditional mentoring model has definite benefits.  However, it does not have to be a one-way learning or training relationship.  A recent article from offers an expansion of the mentor-mentee relationship that includes mutual benefits to both parties.

Click Here to Read the Article.

This article identifies the modern mentor as one who is willing to step up and participate in the mentor-mentee relationship as an exchange.  Through active participation the modern mentor should be able to change that one-way flow to a two-way transfer of ideas, new learnings, and growth that provide mutual benefits to both parties in the mentoring relationship.   When we change the direction of the flow to a two-way exchange there is clear evidence that both parties will benefit, their respective generation will benefit, and the organization will benefit as a whole.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What learning, skills, and experience would you bring to a mentor-mentee relationship if you were the mentor?
  2. What benefits would you bring to a mentor-mentee relationship if you were the mentee?
  3. What perceptions do you have of the baby boomer generation?
  4. How do you think you are perceived as a member of a particular generation based group? Do you agree with this perception?