26 Aug 4 Ways to Improve Resilience in the Workplace
Written by: Spela Bednjanic, BA Psychology
In a fast-changing world and highly demanding work cultures around the globe, success is not measured only by the longer hours at work or extra commitments and tasks someone will take on. With deadlines, constant changes, and updates in organizational cultures, being more resilient is key to a healthy and productive work-life.
What Is Resilience?
According to the World Health Organization, stress is the global health epidemic of the 21st century. Adapting to changes and building effective stress management techniques is crucial to surviving. For example, in an organization going through radical changes – jobs being at stake, organizational system developing, people will be stressed out and scared. However, those with good resilience skills will keep afloat and may even come out of the stressful situation all grown and flourishing.
This example shows that resilience is a dynamic and dimensional process. Some people have more resilience than others, but the good news is resilience consists of a set of skills that can be learned.
There are many elements of resilience in the workplace. Resilient employees show perseverance; they will endure through the hardships of both the day-by-day tasks and obstacles as well as the longer and more challenging projects. They show grit, stick to their goals and work through the hurdles on the way to achieve what they want. They are also more self-reliant and have higher self-esteem, which means they are well aware of their capabilities and rely on them when performing a specific task. They perceive their work as meaningful, and they mainly focus on the positive part of it. It’s not that they don’t experience stress or negative events at work; it’s just that they know how to control their thoughts and emotions when under pressure. Being more mindful makes it easier for them to balance and maintain their health and well-being while still delivering results.
One of the essential skills that resilient employees have is establishing and maintaining healthy social networks and connections with coworkers. They are active listeners, responding to the emotions of others; they can better handle conflicts and control their ego responses. Meaningful connections can also be of great help in case of stressful situations or unexpected events when someone needs support or guidance.
Research also shows an interesting finding – employees who take their work too seriously experience more stress and are often less resilient and less ready to handle the obstacles and challenges on their way. Those employees who incorporate an element of a »game«into their work are usually more resilient & also positively influence others in the organization, which improves their relationships and teamwork.
Benefits of Resilience: Why Is Resilience Important?
There is not a single workplace that would be free from stress and occasional difficulties. Furthermore, stress can negatively affect the productivity and performance of the employees, worsen the relationships between coworkers, and consequently worsen the company’s success. Workplace stress is also a significant risk factor for depression, anxiety, and burnout.
Resilience helps us manage complex and challenging situations more effectively. Setbacks or obstacles at work will not stop resilient employees; they will continue to push further and achieve their goals with a more proactive and positive approach.
The benefits of resilience in the workplace are:
- Improved stress management
- Improved productivity and performance
- More efficient communication
- Better handling of conflicts
- Lower anxiety
- Lower risk for burnout
- Contributing to a more positive and proactive working environment
- More optimism, energy, and openness to experience
- Better problem-solving
How To Improve Resilience In the Workplace?
As mentioned, resilience is a set of skills that one can practice and learn. The 4 ways to improve resilience in the workplace are:
1. Develop a resilient mindset
The foundation of resilience is developing a resilient mindset. A resilient mindset has five core elements: gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning, and forgiveness. By being grateful for the simple things in life that are often taken for granted, for example, being thankful for each breath we take, we start to change our progressive perspective of always wanting more and more. The same goes for accepting all there is and trying to learn from them and find meaning in them. Compassion for others and self-compassion is a ways to empower others and yourself to become more resilient and prepare for all the possible adverse events in life. Forgiveness helps you develop stronger and deeper connections with people around you, which contributes to your improved resilience.
2. Practice gratitude
Resilient employees find meaning and purpose in everyday life’s ups and downs and various experiences. It can also be a way to become more reflective, stay in touch with daily events, your own emotions, and failures, and learn to appreciate the ways adversity encourages you to develop and grow. Start your days by writing down 3 things you’re grateful for.
3. Practice mindfulness and stress management techniques
Practicing mindfulness in the workplace is important because as we do so, we reduce stress, and become more aware of ourselves and the environment we’re in, which helps us control our emotional response to the situation, acting faster and more efficiently. There are many mindfulness and stress management techniques available. From mindfulness exercises, such as simple breathing exercises or meditation, to other stress management techniques, such as walks in nature, physical activity, taking time for your hobbies, or having a good talk with a close one. Being more mindful of your thought patterns and emotions helps you control the stress and your reaction to it, which builds up your resilience.
4. Cultivate kindness
Kindness and resilience go hand in hand. Part of developing our resilience is being kind to ourselves. It means accepting the failures and mistakes as part of life’s experience and acknowledging when we are not performing at our highest. Being kind to yourself also builds up your self-esteem and confidence by making you feel like you can face whatever challenge life throws at you.