Resilience: trendy term or momentous mechanism?

Resilience wordWe’ve talked about mindfulness before, and how it can help an employee’s productivity. Resilience is a similar term that’s batted about nowadays – the new buzzword in the workplace, perhaps. But what is it, and why do we need it?
Let’s look at the psychology. Resilience is defined as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties’. Well, difficulties certainly crop up for most employees throughout the working day.
But, before you sign your employees up to the first resilience workshop you see, consider why you’d be initiating such training.
We all have a measure of personal resilience. This is what sees us get up, get dressed, and look after our loved ones when tragedy strikes. And not the type of heartbreak you may feel when you go to the office biscuit tin to find it’s empty…we’re talking real life-changing events: the death of a family member, divorce, even moving house. Resilience is your auto-pilot; it makes you put one foot in front of the other when all you really want to do is curl up in bed and never come out. It’s the motivation to carry on with your life, however much it may have changed.
Resilience in the workplace is quite different. Unless you work in a high-risk industry, few employees hold their lives in their hands during the 9 – 5. Challenges at the office may be more frequent, but they’re hardly ‘life-changing’.
If that sounds like you can dismiss that thought of resilience training…not so fast. What today’s workplaces resemble is a continuously bubbling pan of hot water. On a daily basis, your employees probably experience one or (many) more of the following:
• Clients wanting everything yesterday
• Clients exercising their consumer rights
• Competition like never before
• Continually shrinking margins
• Reduced training budgets
• Zero contracts; the pressure to offer/enjoy flexible working and unsociable hours
• Blurred boundaries between work and home, due to technology
• Same workload, but fewer employees to ensure it gets done
• High number of outlets for negative feedback
• Greater expectations from managers
• Lack of pay increments
We could go on.
Some of the above may sound like the concern of the man or woman at the top of the organisation, but the fallout is likely to impact everyone else in the company, right down to the people on the front line.
Whilst none of the issues demand huge resilience individually, put together they can chip away at an employee’s stress levels, productivity, self-esteem and mental health. And this is the huge red flag you’ve to look out for, and hopefully, avoid completely.
Think of resilience like a reservoir. A personal catastrophe occurs, and you may need to use every drop in there to get yourself back on your feet. No doubt you will also have people rallying round you after a huge knockback, which will help fill your reservoir back up to full strength. And on you go until life decides to smack you in the face again.
But go into work, where you may be faced with any number of the issues listed above, and you may find you dip into your reservoir little and often. The danger comes when you eventually take more out than what’s actually in there. And because you’ve been dipping into your reservoir of resilience on a daily basis no one will have noticed – least of all you. And suddenly, the bottom of the reservoir is dry. There’s no more to draw upon. Burnout. Breakdown. By then it’s too late.

As manager or business owner in this situation, you’re likely to need to find (and pay for) cover as your employee takes time away from work to replenish their inner pools of strength. You’ll probably also have to foot sickness pay, too. Disruption to the status quo occurs, which puts more pressure on those remaining. Let’s just hope their reservoirs are plentiful.
If water was trickling, or flowing, from a crack in a reservoir what would you use to stop this happening? A plank of wood? Or would you alter and improve its whole structure? Something that’s not meaningful and quickly forgotten represents the plank of wood. An understanding of pressure points and learning a range of resilience techniques are akin to putting in a strong, sturdy structure to stop that reservoir from caving in.
Our Jigsaw Development Tool introduces resilience management. It helps employees understand the emotional states that could lead to burnout, as well as show them various tools and techniques to help promote resilience on a daily basis. We’re all different, and we deal with things differently as a result. What one person takes in their stride is another’s tipping point. That’s why we work with attendees of our resilience workshops to create a personal resilience plan.
Resilience is not a trend. The world will not slow down – it will only get faster. Healthy resilience is an effective way to keep up and keep on top of things.
To find out more about our resilience workshops and brain bytes, contact Michelle on 01924 898930 or email michelle.mcarthur@jigsawatwork.com

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