Resilience (Part 2)

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 Successful Supervisor, published by LifeSolutions .

The previous issue of The Successful Supervisor explored what sets resilient people apart from those who are less resilient. Why does this matter to managers and leaders? And, what can leadership do to promote resiliency in the workplace? Life is full of stressful situations. Whether this stress stems from personal or work‐related sources, employees often feel overwhelmed, fatigued, and disengaged. Factors in the work environment that can contribute to stress include: uncertainty about job security, work demands, lack of trust in management, lack of recognition or appreciation for work well done, and a lack of friendship in the workplace. Any of these can lead employees to question the value and meaning of their work. It is important to recognize that Human Capital (HC) — people — are often the largest expenditure and one of the most important contributors to revenue for organizations. Traditionally, companies have tried to manage HC by focusing on increasing employee productivity. They do so by asking employees to focus, work smarter, and put in longer hours. This, too, can lead to stress, worker fatigue, negativity, and resentment. Employees end up depleted and spend less time doing things that restore their energy. Organizations can instead focus on the skillful management of employee energy. They can ground their efforts in approaches that support resiliency and restore vitality.

Materials adapted from Rose Gantner, Ed.D, Workplace Wellness: Performance with a Purpose, Well Works Publishing, 2012; Gail Wagnild, PhD, ; and David Nash, MD, et al, Population Health: Creating a Culture of Wellness, Bartlett Publishing, 2011.

Article Author: Rose Gantner, Ed.D

Read Part 1

Performance is best grounded in the skillful management of energy. Focusing on strengths and resiliency enhances performance and productivity (less absenteeism, presenteeism, depression, anxiety, and fewer workers’ compensation claims). Studies reveal that employees who cultivate work‐life balance (engage in activities they enjoy, spend quality time with family and friends, and get adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition) will perform better in the workplace. Additionally, when employees are encouraged to identify and play to their personal strengths, “doing what they do best,” their work performance improves. It makes sense to encourage employees to take care of themselves and to back up this encouragement with messages and policies that support work‐life balance. From a resilience perspective, management understands that people are not machines . . . they are complex human beings with unique skills, talents, motives, challenges, aspirations, and needs. Leadership recognizes that employees have an intrinsic desire for competency and mastery, relatedness, and autonomy. Leaders can help individual employees satisfy these needs, within company guidelines. The result is internally motivated employees. Employees who are only motivated externally (by reward, threat, or fear) may demonstrate a short‐term performance gain, but this is quickly followed by a drop in performance once the reward is achieved or the threat is removed.

What are some strategies managers can use to support resiliency, the development of strengths, and internal motivation?

Managers can ask themselves the following questions:

If you have any questions or would like more information on supporting resiliency, please contact LifeSolutions at 1.800.647.3327.

Nothing in this information is a substitute for following your company policies related to information covered here.

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