Mental & Behavioral Health

Building Resiliency in the Workplace Enhances Health and Wellbeing

We all experience stress in our daily lives. From raising families and managing finances to juggling schedules and caring for loved ones. And that's all before we set foot into the office in the morning. When we arrive at work, we have emails piling up, urgent meetings and looming deadlines waiting for us.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a quarter of all employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. The rising levels of stress in the workplace should be a cause for concern, as stress can lead to decreased productivity, higher staff turnover, increased health costs and employee burnout.

The long-term health consequences of stress for employees can include increased risk of heart attack and stroke, obesity, depressed immunity, gastrointestinal problems, and longer recovery from illness. Unfortunately, the pace and intensity of modern life and work are not likely to change. So it's more important than ever to learn how to be more resilient and foster an environment of resilience for our employees.

Resilient people are better able to deal with the demands placed on them. They can more easily "roll with the punches" or "bounce back" from increasing demands or constant change.

The good news is that anyone can learn habits and create strategies to increase their ability to cope well with pressure. Try practicing these six strategies that can help you become more resilient:

  • Develop strong social networks in the office. Having positive relationships can make coming to work more enjoyable, but it also means that you'll have a strong support network when you need it.
  • Practice self-care. If you don't take care of yourself, it's likely that your ability to cope with stress and other challenges will suffer. Get plenty of sleep, move around often and feed your body nutritious foods.
  • Be flexible. Nothing stays the same. If you can accept that things can and do change, you'll be more resilient than someone who continues to resist change.
  • Treat problems as a learning process. It is your choice how to respond to a situation. Instead of panicking and reacting negatively, use challenges as an opportunity to acquire a skill or find a lesson to be learned.
  • Celebrate successes. Instead of dwelling on things that don't go well, give yourself a pat on the back when things do go well. Even better, celebrate the successes of your colleagues. Calling out the successes of others can help build a culture of resilience in your workplace.
  • Take time to recharge. You can recharge throughout your workday by taking regular breaks and leaving your desk for lunch. Take regular vacations and time away from work to do things that you love and bring you joy. When you return to work, you will be more energized and motivated.

You can't always control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude and reaction!

Are you in a position to shape the work environment or culture at your organization? Here are some steps that you can take to create a more resilient workplace:

  • Encourage social interactions. Hold team building events and social for staff. Build time into meetings where employees can talk and connect on a personal level.
  • Encourage physical wellbeing. Provide a working environment that encourages healthy behaviors, such as serving nutritious foods at meetings, allowing employees to wear tennis shoes to encourage walking, and revamping vending machines with healthy options.
  • Celebrate successes as a regular company practice. Implement processes that regularly celebrate employee successes, big and small. Create a culture where employees can and do recognize each other's accomplishments and are recognized for their achievements.
  • Set the standard for taking breaks, lunches and vacations. Encourage employees to take their morning and afternoon breaks. Managers should not only be communicating the message, but should also lead by example.

Together employees and employers can create an environment where employees are better supported and are able to bounce back from the stress of life.

About the Author

Leanna Lilly, MS, PHR, CCWS, is a Health Management Specialist for Keenan with over 11 years of experience in worksite wellness. Her areas of expertise include program development, data analysis, and program evaluation. She holds certifications as a Professional in Human Resources, Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist, WELCOA Faculty Member and Certified Personal Trainer. She earned a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Kentucky and M.S. degrees in both Industrial/Organization Psychology and Exercise and Sports Science from Eastern Kentucky University.

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