Building resilience is one way we can all reduce our stress at work and contribute to a more mentally healthy workplace. So what is resilience? Resilience is someone’s ability to bounce back in the face of challenges or some sort of trauma. Resilient people have strong resources and skills to manage stress and conflict as well as a good support network to help them deal with the pressures of work. Resilience is more than just have good stress management skills. In the age of constant change, resilience is also required to keep employees flexible and adaptable to new situations and job requirements. Resilient employees can learn from experience, retain a positive attitude and know how and when to ask for help when needed. .

So what can Organisations do to build resilience in their organisations?

  • Smarter work design eg building in flexibility in working roles and working hours
  • Build better work cultures eg ensuring change is managed in an inclusive manner
  • Build resilience eg providing resilience training, coaching and mentoring, and physical activity programs
  • Early intervention eg providing stress management programs and access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Support recovery eg having flexible sick leave arrangements and providing return-to-work programs.
  • Increase awareness eg providing mental health education and training

How can workplaces help employees enhance their resilience?

Workplaces can help to promote resilience in their employees. The report recommends the following strategies:

  • Training programmes – Organisations can offer employees Resilience and Stress management training programmes.

These types of programs can teach employees to deal with work-related stresses and challenges and help them explore and develop their own strategies and plans for work-life balance .

  • Coaching and mentoring

Coaching and mentoring are specific relationships that are helpful in developing resilience. Coaching focuses on improvement in current performance, skill and well-being while mentoring supports longer-term skills and career development.

  • Organisational flexibility – smarter design:  

 Allow flexible work hours where possible to minimise peak hour travel time for employees– or work from home programmes.

  • Providing Employee Assistance programmes.

Organisations that offer Employee Assistance programmes to their employees – demonstrate care and concern for employees, but more importantly provide the tools for employees to get help with every day life crises, in a way that is empowering and mitigates the impact on their work performance.

How can employees improve their own resilience?

  • Thinking and coping styles

Developing positive thinking is essential to Resilience. Improvements to positive thinking can be obtained through Cognitive behavioural therapy, several other counselling modalities, and through consistent mediation. Getting profressional assistance for anxiety is also essential.

  • Address lifestyle and leisure issues

Look at finding healthy leisure activities that you enjoy. Find a form of exercise that feels like fun, ensure you are eating a balanced diet. Research shows that people who are at a healthy weight, and are reasonably fit have better stamina to cope with the challenges of their days. They are also better protected against developing mental health issues. Similarly people who have health blood sugar, are better able to maintain a positive disposition.

  • Addressing where you get support from: Support networks

Positive relationships with our family, significant other, and friends provide an essential buffer to stressors, providing a sense of belonging and self worth. Likewise having a support system you can turn to in challenging phases of life is an essential part of being resilient. Understanding you cannot do it all yourself.  Isolation and lack of supportive relationships denies us positive emotions. So too, people without strong relationships at work can struggle. “In workplaces, networking is seen as instrumental, so too is seeking out friendships. This is not just nice, but a necessity.”

  • If you struggle to build healthy meaningful relationships, consider getting counselling for input on how to connect with others or consider taking a community course in interpersonal relationship building skills, for example the LifeLine self growth course.

Where to get help

If you are struggling with the multitude of challenges and ever present change at work consider talking to:

  • a manager you trust, human resources or workplace wellbeing programme provider
  • your GP (or other health professional such as a psychologist)
  • You can call LifeLine’s 24 hour crisis line or any other crisis line

Organisations can contact LifeLine Johannesburg to request information on Resilience training and coaching initiatives offered by our Corporate Division – or speak to us about implementing an Employee Wellness Programme –

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