Building employee resilience in the workplace

Building professional resilience is key for those wanting to achieve their best while at work. Resilience doesn’t just happen overnight. You have to work on it, and build up your resilience over time.

Resilience is not a characteristic – it’s the way we approach life. It is all about analysing situations, assessing your emotional response to those situations and finding ways to cope and recover from challenges. Tapping into inner-strength and overcoming adversity (however small) is key to achieving resilience.

Those with high levels of resilience are able to manage their own emotions and empathise with the feelings of others. They’re understanding and helpful colleagues, able to solve problems effectively and strive towards their goals.

There are some key ways employers can encourage their team to build resilience at work…

  • Build your relationships

Having a wide network of connections helps to build your confidence, empathy and personal relationships. A professional support network is particularly beneficial.

  • Be your authentic self

You are not defined by your job. Know who you are, your principles and your values… and stick to them

  • Don’t play the blame game

Solve the problem instead! Find a common goal with colleagues and work together to find a solution, rather than wasting time trying to decipher who caused the problem in the first place.

  • Maintain perspective

Reflect and respond to the situations around you. Is a small setback really the end of the world, or can you overcome the problem?

  • Find your purpose

If you know where you’re heading, it’s easier to get there. Focus on setting key goals and, furthermore, work hard to achieve them.

  • Adapt to change

Learning to be comfortable with change is a great way to build your resilience and adaptability.

  • Learn and develop

When you learn, you gain new understanding. This helps you to develop individually and empathise with those around you who may have different skills or experiences.

  • Take control

If you take charge of your professional and personal development, you’re empowered to do your best and make positive changes.

  • Stay positive

You don’t need to turn every negative into a positive, but you should try to think ahead and keep an optimistic perspective on all situations.

  • View problems as a learning process

When things don’t quite go right, view these challenges as a way to learn and develop. Don’t be defeated or let problems define your day.

  • Get planning

Taking time to reflect is a great start, but now it’s time to instigate change. How will you respond to tough scenarios, and what outcome do you hope to achieve? Be logical and responsive, never ignoring a potential problem in the hope it’ll just go away. It won’t.

  • Celebrate your achievements

Don’t dwell on negative subjects. Instead, take the time to reflect on your successes and congratulate yourself. Be your own biggest fan.

It’s easier read than done

Simply telling you what you need to do in order to build resilience won’t make a tremendous difference. You need to find the right techniques and strategies that work for you. For example, if you don’t have a strong professional support network why not set up a lunchtime activity group? Or if you get easily dejected or disheartened, learn to take a five-minute break and regroup so you don’t spend the rest of your day panicking over one scenario.

Finally, give yourself a break. No-one is perfect. If you need to give yourself a pep-talk, discuss your worries with someone else or take some time out to build your strength back up, that’s fine. Being resilient isn’t about being cold or super tough all the time. It’s about checking in with yourself and finding the most healthy way to manage your emotions and situations that impact you.

Physical health impacts your resilience

We all know that mental and physical health are, to some extent, linked. If you’re physically in pain or feel fatigued, it will have a detrimental impact on your mental health too. Similarly, those experiencing mental health issues may feel physically strained.

Learn to understand your body and feed it what it needs. Perhaps socialising with others boosts your energy. For some, too much time with others drains them and alone time is needed. A lunchtime walk, read or meal out could be exactly what you need to refresh.

Be mindful of what you eat and how much you exercise, too. Leading a healthy lifestyle is an important part of looking after your mental wellbeing.

Why professional resilience is important

The workplace can feel unpredictable and difficult to manage at times. Employees may feel stressed or pressured, with high workloads and workplace challenges causing individuals to feel burnout or pressured. Employees also must manage their professional relationships, while maintaining a strong work/life balance too. Colleagues don’t always get on, and customers can be difficult. Remaining calm, working well with others and learning to empathise and develop great professional relationships is highly important. Success in the workplace doesn’t just rely on producing great results – it relies on developing strong relationships too.  

Wellbeing in the workplace is closely linked to resilience. Those who feel unable to cope with challenges at work are more likely to experience reduced motivation, poorer performance and an increase in absenteeism. From a business perspective, that simply isn’t good news.

Building resilience in the workplace

Documents, guidance and policy documents go a long way to provide reassurance for employees. They’ll know who to speak to about key wellbeing issues, how to escalate issues if necessary and what resources are available should they need additional support.

Encouraging an open and welcoming company culture is also key to improving employee resilience. If employees are able to discuss challenges and their experiences with other colleagues, as a team they’ll be in the best possible position to overcome similar situations in the future. A culture of resilience involves employees speaking openly about their professional struggles, and colleagues supporting one another through challenges. Encourage positivity, gratefulness and collaboration within your teams. Remember – you’re all working towards one shared goal.

How to educate and advise employees

Simply telling people to build their resilience won’t make a difference. It’s a long and conscious process, and an extremely individual one.

Employers should support their team by giving them the tools they need to boost resilience. Positive coping strategies, effective stress management and relationship-building techniques will help individuals to grow and develop their resilience.

We Are Wellbeing’s team of expert coaches are on hand to provide resilience training. This gives employees a deeper understanding of the importance of resilience. Our resilience programmes help employees make the most of their strengths, identifying areas that cause stress or concern. We’ll then work with employees to develop a personalised behaviour chance plan, helping them to make lasting change.

By learning to manage the way we cope with stressful challenges, we can better overcome them and achieve our goals.

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