Emotional Resilience in the Workplace: Why is it important and How Can We Develop It?
Let’s be honest. Workplaces can be extremely challenging. Not only is there the stress of the job itself, but then there is also, what feels like, constant change to deal with. It’s perhaps unsurprising that, at times, these challenges are too much. A build-up of stress, and a lack of emotional well-being, leads to a multitude of problems.
However, there are certain employees who seem to thrive under challenging circumstances. These people don’t expect everything to go their own way and they excel at finding good in a bad situation. What is it that can lead to such different reactions? The answer can be found in emotional intelligence and resilience.
Having a resilient workforce, where their emotional well-being is catered for, can bring a host of benefits to your business. However, what do we mean by resilience and how can you bring resilience to your workforce? That’s what we’re about to explore.
What does it mean to be emotionally resilient?
Before we dive in and start to explore the benefits of emotional well-being and resilience, it’s worth taking the time to consider what resilience actually is. In simple terms, it’s all about how a person deals with difficult experiences. Those who are resilient also possess emotional intelligence. They have the ability to regulate and control their thoughts and emotions in ways that bring a multitude of benefits.
People who are resilient come across as being more positive in challenging situations. They tend to have a more positive approach, ‘glass half full’ mentality, to their work and life in general. Challenges are seen for what they are: they are something that creates an opportunity rather than posing a threat. They see change and challenges as part of life. Their attitude is one of, ‘I’ve got this’, and they will take things in their stride and just carry on. These people are often great problem solvers, and they will often demonstrate high levels of motivation to succeed and try new things - exactly what you want from a workforce.
How can emotional resilience impact your workforce?
Resilience and emotional well-being can act as super-powers! Yes, it’s true – super powers exist! When employees are struggling with their emotional well-being, it can impact so many facets of their life, and as many of us spend the majority of our week at work, this is one of the areas it hits hardest. It will come as no surprise if I tell you that emotional resilience can have a huge impact on an individual’s engagement and connection to their job. The quality of the work and even their attendance can be negatively impacted when someone is battling with emotional well-being. Numerous reports show that there are clear links between poor mental health and an increase in absenteeism and presenteeism. Having a workforce that is resilient is quite different.
Resilience leads to employees who thrive at work. They are employees who are productive, committed, and motivated. They are also capable of dealing with change and are far less likely to burn out. These points are exactly why employers look for resilience through the recruitment process. If a whole workforce possessed resilience as a quality, the workplace could literally be transformed. Resilience levels can vary from not only person to person but can also be affected by events and things that happen in our life. When we are feeling strong and emotionally resilient, we can deal with most things that life throws our way, but then the question that arises is, why is it that the following week or month, we are unable to cope with such stresses? It really boils down to a continuous process of looking after our emotional wellbeing and recognising when we need some extra support, some time out or just a little more self-care.
A look at the benefits that resilience brings
We’ve already, fairly strongly, hinted at the benefits of having a workforce whose emotional well-being is in a good place and who possesses resilience. However, here we’re going to look a little deeper at exactly what these benefits are:
A workforce that can handle change
For a business to succeed, there are often times when change is a necessity. New ways of working are identified that streamline a business and bring obvious benefits. A business needs employees who can go through with these changes and that’s what they find in those who are resilient.
Resilient employees embrace such change. They can see the logic behind what is being introduced and can actually become champions of new ways of working, helping to implement it on a wider scale.
Employees that are able to communicate
Resilient employees possess confidence and are self-assured. This means that they develop communication skills that really add to the workplace. These communication skills can see them lift up other employees with the positivity that they display.
They are also able to speak up when required. They can present new ideas, and effectively share these. They’re also capable of making appropriate challenges.
A reduction in presenteeism
Presenteeism is when your employees attend work, but work is the last thing on their minds. They are distracted and not focusing. Often, these employees have already experienced burnout and they literally turn up to work but add very little. Their passion has gone. This generally occurs when managers have ignored what has been happening right before their eyes.
By contrast, those who are resilient retain their spark. They avoid burnout as they have their emotional well-being in check. They come to work and give their all while being 100% focused.
One of the major benefits of resilience is that it allows people to develop their relationships. Relationships amongst colleagues tend to become stronger and this leads to much better teamwork across the board.
As we’ve seen before, those who are resilient are far less likely to take things personally. This means that there is far less friction between people: they are able to see differing points of view for what they are rather than seeing them as a personal attack.
Employees who want to grow
When employees have their emotional well-being in check, they tend to have a growth mindset. This means that they seek out opportunities to better themselves. This may mean that they look for a promotion or it could be that they go the extra mile in terms of acquiring the knowledge and skills needed for their current roles. Regardless, they seek change rather than avoid it and they want to go on a journey.
An effective workforce
Resilient people can organise themselves and manage their workload. They are able to effectively manage their time and have the ability to collaborate with others when required. These employees certainly don’t need to be micro-managed: they can be left to get on and do what they’re paid to do.
Resilient employees take people with them rather than trample on them. When a colleague needs help or support, it will be your resilient employees who are handing this out. Likewise, they also recognise the times when they need this themselves. Rather than make mistakes, or go under with stress, they will actively reach out to keep their emotional well-being in check.
Is it possible to build emotional resilience?
Having seen the benefits, there is little doubt that every organisation wants a workforce that is resilient. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken that allow people to build resilience. These include:
Having a grounding in the basics
To develop resilience, people need an understanding of what’s involved. Commonly, there are five pillars that people refer to that sum this up. These are:
- Emotional well-being
- Inner drive
- Future focus
- Physical health
Being aware of strengths and weaknesses
For a person to become resilient, they must be able to self-reflect. When looking at the five pillars we referred to, they need to realise the ones that they need to work on. The best way to help an employee with this is to hold plenty of one-to-one meetings where feedback is given open and honestly.
Improving emotional well-being
Many employees have developed habits over time that jeopardise their mental health and emotional well-being. They need support to find ways of challenging these and the first step is to recognise them in the first place. Challenging negative thoughts and behaviours take time, but it leads to significant change and a boost in emotional well-being.
Encourage inner drive
Inner drive sees people being motivated and going out there on the hunt for success. It prevents a feeling of overwhelm and boosts productivity. If you want to encourage inner drive, it’s wise to help them to set effective goals using the SMART framework.
Promote the need to focus on the future
Looking forward leads to a growth mindset. You need to encourage your employees to look ahead and to keep moving forward. When you have a focus you plan a journey. With a journey, you know that there is change. That’s why resilient people embrace change.
Toxic relationships are bad for emotional well-being. Building healthy relationships leads to people feeling cared for, supported, and understood. People should be encouraged to build connections and relationships that are genuine. In the workplace, this could even involve seeking out, or becoming, a mentor.
There are close links between a person’s mental and physical health. When one is suffering, it is highly likely that others will begin to as well. To support physical health, employers need to ensure that their workforce has a good work-life balance. It’s also worth exploring offering employee benefits that focus on health such as gym membership or medical cover.
Assist with development
If you want your workforce to develop and to become resilient in the process, you need to help with this. By using a professional development portfolio, you can show that you take development seriously. It demonstrates that you’re supporting their wants and needs.
Resources to help you on your way
If you're keen to implement some of these points and build a resilient workforce, these resources can give you a helping hand: