Why is everyone talking about resilience?
I think there has been more discussion about resilience and what it means due to the increasing levels of stress in our everyday lives. We all know we are too reliant on our technology, we check emails at all hours, homework is issued on iPads, and we use gadgets at home. All in the hope of trying to save time, but this often means we do not have time with constant buzzing, pinging and ringing of various devices. The OECD’s Better Life Index in 2017 found that c.13% of UK employees were working very long hours (50+/week). In addition, funding cuts, changes like Universal Credit and zero-hours contract have made life an uphill battle for many.
Mental Health and Wellbeing in the workplace
Every annual report that is published about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace shows an ever-increasing numbers of sickness absence, presenteeism and low morale each year. These numbers are still not shifting in the right direction. The latest Mental Health at Work Report by Business in the Community in 2018 cited:
- 61% of employees have experienced mental health issues due to work or a work-related factor.
- 1 in 3 of the UK workforce have been diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their lifetimes.
- Only 16% of employees feel able to disclose mental-ill health to their managers.
- 30% of managers report a lack of facilities when it comes to supporting mental health and wellbeing.
- 85% of managers acknowledge employee wellbeing is their responsibility, but only 30% have received any training.
What is resilience?
There is still a real need for organisations to do more to manage mental health and wellbeing in a positive way.
Resilience can be defined as the ability to adapt following set-backs and difficult life events, whilst maintaining positive mental health. I often think of it as an internal rubber band, so when the shape alters in some way, you have the tools and techniques to bring it back into a workable shape that is unique to you.
Resilience isn’t about avoiding life’s challenges by pretending they’re not there or ignoring them, but noticing when pressure appears and taking proactive steps to manage those pressures. It also incorporates sustainability, thus providing lasting benefits for our emotional health.
The Wraw® Continuum developed by The Wellbeing Project (Europe) Ltd demonstrates the shift from mental illness to true resilience.
Starting on the left, I have talked about it countless times, the cost of mental illness to employees and employers is significant. In terms of monetary value it can cost up to £42bn a year, if businesses do not support mental health in the workplace. Then add to this lost time, broken relationships and reputational damage. It cannot be ignored.
Then moving to the second column on the left, there are mental health challenges we may experience at work. It is likely that these signs may feel familiar to us. When we have had a poor manager, been undervalued or a change process is not handled well with information withheld. Any type of bullying can lead to mental health challenges.
On the flip side is mental wellbeing, where we feel productive at work, we have a work-life balance and can engaged with our colleagues. Resilience is the next stage where there are mechanisms in place to strengthen our wellbeing even further.
People demonstrating resilient behaviours have great flexibility, high energy, mental agility and consistently perform at their highest level. They are also likely to have have strong relationships and support networks that help them to amplify their productivity and results. Resilience is a skill that can be learned and trained. Think of it as a kind of mental muscle.
Is resilience different to wellbeing?
Wellbeing is how you manage your day-to-day life and how you are feeling on a given day. Wellbeing incorporates physical and mental health to create an overall picture of being well. Mental wellbeing is how we manage ourselves, all of our relationships and participate in life in the way we wish to. Wellbeing is influenced by the environment we work and as a result it will fluctuate.
It is clear that wellbeing and resilience are interlinked. You can’t really have one without the other. As per the Wraw® Continuum above, wellbeing can be more easily eroded if resilience strategies and practices are not in place. Think of resilience as the protective coating that can seal wellbeing in more effectively.
In The Young Foundation’s report from 2010, The Wellbeing Paradox, the authors state “Wellbeing describes and captures a psychological state at a point in time. Whereas, resilience is less about a point in time and is dynamic, taking into account the past and the future, a person can build resilience before they hit crisis and be more likely to cope with problems that may be around the corner.”
I feel that this thinking has shifted slightly, and both wellbeing and resilience are dynamic. So the way in which we manage them at an individual. team and organisational level must also flex and adapt.
How do you train the resilience muscle?
I’d like to introduce you to the Mood Map™ also developed by The Wellbeing Project (Europe) Ltd, with whom I am accredited with to deliver Wraw®.
I find this a very useful model to think about energy levels, recovery and resilience. On the left hand side we can see the symptoms of mental health challenges in red and mental ill-health in the grey area. We may well spend time here, but it’s being aware of how we are feeling that enables us to tap into our resilience. On the right hand side we can see the mental wellbeing and resilience traits in the green and yellow areas.
Which activities put you into the right hand side of the mood map and which activities put you into the left hand side? Part of building resilience is to try and spend more time in those right-hand zones. This will enable you to have the time you need to rest, re-energise and recover.
You may find this article I wrote about How to Address Your Stress provides you with ideas about how you can start to move into the right-hand zones. .
There are numerous ways to increase your resilience, some ideas are:
- stopping and taking time out for you
- physical activity
- celebrating when achieving your goals big or small
- keeping a gratitude journal
- acknowledging your strengths and celebrating them
- asking for helping from people you trust when you need to
- developing your problem solving skills based on what’s worked before and what hasn’t
- quieting your inner critic
Is resilience the answer to everything?
I get asked this question a lot. Clearly, it isn’t the answer to everything. It also doesn’t mean anyone should put up with bullying, abusive or threatening behaviours. They need to be dealt with at a workplace and societal level immediately. In these cases it is not the individual’s responsibility to be resilient in the face of abuse.
I think it is a two pronged approach where looking after our wellbeing and building resilience can help us manage challenges more effectively. However, businesses must address the issues causing stress. It should not be a case of offering blanket training in resilience, when there is a destructive workplace culture. Ultimately, it is the employer’s legal responsibility to eliminate or minimise the stressors, as per Health and Safety Executive guidelines. The duty of care is not on the employee to simply cope better and deal with it.
This research article talks about how resilience isn’t the best way to address systemic social failures.
What is Wraw®?
Wellbeing and resilience at work (Wraw®) is one of the first psychometric tools to measure wellbeing and resilience, and has been developed by The Wellbeing Project.
The two tenets of Wraw® are:
1. Educate and empower individuals to take ownership of their own resilience and wellbeing.
2. Educate and enable managers and leaders to build a safe and supportive working environment.
Wraw® provides clear, insightful and comprehensive reports for individuals, teams, line managers and leaders. As an accredited Wraw® practitioner I will provide the expert debrief and support you need to understand your results. This includes feedback on resilient thoughts and actions, as well a personal development plan to enable immediate action planning.
At an individual level Wraw® can help to:
- highlight areas where individual resilience and wellbeing may dip (as outlined in the five pillars image below);
- foster a proactive approach to minimise negative risks to physical and mental health;
- identify personal strategies to develop effect routines to support your wellbeing, and;
- harness opportunities to develop yourself in a healthy and sustainable way.
For organisations, Wraw® can deliver valuable insight to:
- gain a robust measure of employee wellbeing and resilience;
- be proactive in maintaining employee wellbeing;
- understand individual results in relation to a set of norm data;
- identify key pressure points and drainers in the workplace;
- effectively target investment is wellbeing initiatives to gain maximum return; and
- nurture and promote a culture of healthy high performance.
Wraw® increases awareness of resilience and wellbeing for individuals based on the five pillars in the image below.
Wraw® establishes where you are with your resilience at a given time based on:
Energy: Sustaining and renewing physical energy to have the capacity to keep going through challenging times.
Future Focus: Having a clear sense of purpose and direction to move forwards without getting stuck of feeling held back.
Inner drive: Sustaining self-belief when times get tough. The levels at which someone displays confidence,motivation and perseverance.
Flexible thinking: Having an open and optimistic mindset, enabling positive and adaptive response to change and challenges.
Strong relationships: Building open and trusting relationships and being willing to call on these for help and support when facing difficulties.
How can I experience Wraw®?
Wraw® is a very accessible and affordable tool. It can be used 1-2-1, as part of my coaching packages and as a team building activity. If you are interested in Wraw and want to find out more please contact me here. I look forward to working with you to find out where you are doing well and what you can do even better.
How do you feel about the terms wellbeing and resilience? Do comment and let me know below.