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.
Belozorova Elena/Shutterstock

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?

Workplace Wellness versus Resiliency

Happy employees

The Steps to Workplace Resiliency

Many organizations are embracing and implementing many workplace wellness initiatives such as:

  • Stress management
  • Work family conflict reduction policies
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Personal leave systems

Research is slowly illustrating that workplace wellness initiatives can be beneficial and create a loyal engaged workforce. It seems worthwhile that employers should begin to consider implementing some workplace wellness programs.

Here is another thought instead of stress management. Why not try a resiliency program in the workplace. Rich Fernandez in his Harvard Business Review (HRB) article talks about the five ways to boost resiliency at work.

This article recites current research that states stress and burnout are reaching epidemic levels in workplaces all over the world. Here are some enlightening statistics:

  • Employee depression, stress and anxiety accounted for 82.6% of all emotional health cases in Employee Assistance Programs in 2014, up from 55.2% since 2012
  • Approximately 75% of the workforce experienced moderate to high stress levels — and more specifically, 6% of employees reported feeling highly or extremely stressed at work.

There are many ways to combat any workplace problem; one way is through better organizational design and workplace stress reducing policies. There is another way as Rich Fernandez illustrates, it is to help each employee build greater resiliency. Here is his five tips based on organizational research to improve individual resiliency in the workplace:

  1. Practice mindfulness
  2. Compartmentalize Information
  3. Take detachment breaks
  4. Pause, step back and reflect
  5. Cultivate compassion

Click here to get greater details about the 5 steps to resiliency in the workplace.

Having an integrated approach to managing stress in the workplace with a combination of programs such as family friendly policies, EAP’s and resiliency training will go a long way to improve overall employee wellness.

Discussion Questions:

  1. After reading this article which of the five steps to resiliency would be easiest for you to incorporate into your own workplace behaviour? Which one do you feel would be the most difficult to embrace?
  2. Which resiliency technique do you feel would benefit you the most to reduce your own stress levels?
  3. Research organizations that have resiliency programs in the workplace. What does the research recommend employers to do to improve workplace resiliency?