Resilience in difficult times

Austerity, uncertainty and other pressures can drain energy and sap our resilience. And yet we know that energy and resilience are fundamental to delivering positive results, well-being and engagement. Here we offer a few ideas of how sustainable resilience can be fostered in a difficult workplace climate.

What is resilience?

Many define resilience as about ‘bounce back’; this is fine in respect of a trauma and significant life events. However the focus here is on resilience in the context of grinding workplace pressures, uncertainty and regular change. This type of environment needs people who can maintain their well-being and keep positive, every day. Thus we regard resilience as being about strength and flexibility.

What are the benefits of resilience in the workplace?

The benefits can be summarised as:

  • Individual: reduced burnout; higher attendance levels and increased motivation;
  • Team: positive team work; increased collaboration and a greater ability to manage complexity;
  • Business/ organisational: higher productivity, improved customer service and greater workplace safety.

How can resilience in the workplace be developed?

We can each do something to strengthen our personal resilience, however difficult the current situation.
A good first step is to be self-aware. To understand one’s own triggers and what works for you. Each of us responds differently, the important point is to know ourselves and be aware what triggers may get us thinking negatively and going down that path of limitation. The inner voice can be powerful, loud and destructive. We need to understand our own thinking patterns and notice when we are giving ourselves negative messages – be they about ourself or our situation. Once noticed, at least one can recognise it. That is the start of choosing to change one’s thinking patterns. Not easy but do-able.

It is equally important to focus on our strengths and to ensure that regularly we do tasks that we enjoy and make us feel good. As part of developing our self-awareness we can ask: what do I REALLY enjoy doing? What qualities do I have that motivate and energise me? By drawing on these one can add some positive aspects to each day.

Resilience is vital to personal well-being and to team performance. It can be fostered and encouraged, whatever the context. The starting point is for each of us to acknowledge it is important and to keep attention on how they can strengthen own resilience. As this habit develops, others will appreciate the shift and gradually it becomes like a pebble in a pool – go on, drop a pebble and see where your ripples reach.