Building Resilience

Bev CouzensStandard

Our high-powered working environments, always-on smartphones and business deals that cross time zones mean that, more and more, we are always at work. Yet, the high stress levels that result can have truly detrimental effects on us and the businesses we work for. Since the working world is not going to change any time soon, the best way to adapt is to build resilience to stress in the workplace. In this post, we’ll discuss three ways to effectively build resilience in our workforce.

The Effects of Workplace Stress 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 15.4 million work days were lost due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety in the year 2017-2018 alone. That’s nearly 50% of all the days lost to work-related illness.

When employees go off with stress, not only do we lose the working hours that they would have worked had they been well, we also put extra pressure on the remaining team members who pick up the slack. This makes it more likely that those team members will go off with stress, which can lead us into a self-perpetuating negative cycle. 

And it’s not just absences that we need to be worried about. Highly stressed employees are much more likely to become disengaged and to attend work without being productive. High workplace stress levels have also been shown to increase turnover

All of this increases costs and inefficiencies for employers. We have to cover sick days, pay more staff to get the same amount of work done, pay to recruit and train new team members and face losing employees we’ve invested lots of resources into. So, what can we do?

Three Ways to Build Resilience

Part of the answer is to build resilience to the inevitable stresses of working life within our workforce. Resilient workers remain calm and in control when under pressure, so that they can move forwards in a positive way. 

And the good news is that resilience is not something you’re born with – or not. Instead, everyone can build resilience given the right tools.

  1. Encourage Physical Activity

Modern working lives are often not conducive to being physically active. Workers can end up sitting for long periods at a desk without a break. Yet, stress reduction is one of the many benefits of physical exercise. As employers, there’s lots we can do to encourage physical activity in our workforce:

  • Site offices near green spaces and parks, where possible, or improve the green space that already exists to make it more inviting. This will encourage workers to be more active during breaks.
  • Offer bike to work schemes, subsidise gym memberships or offer on-site yoga and fitness classes to encourage exercise. Along the same lines, consider offering lockers, shower facilities and secure bike sheds to make it more possible for employees to run or bike to work.
  • Encourage the formation of clubs based around physical activity – workplace football and netball teams are a good example. Setting up tournaments can be a fun way to encourage workers to exercise without thinking about it.
  1. Improve Workplace Psychology

Employees often feel stressed when they are poorly managed, worried about redundancy or experience a lack of trust. Lowering this background level of stress will improve their psychological resources so that they can deal with stressors in their everyday jobs.

  • Train managers to consider the mental well-being of their reports. Many employers assume their star performers can be promoted to management without further training – don’t make this mistake! Give managers appropriate training and stress levels will come down for them and their supervisees.
  • Limit large-scale changes and redundancies as far as possible and be honest about forthcoming restructures. This helps employees to feel secure, increasing their resilience.
  • Encourage an environment of trust by giving employees an appropriate level of autonomy. This may mean limiting the number of meetings they are called into, offering them remote or flexible working options and allowing them to manage their own time.
  1. Provide Additional Resources

Employees will sometimes need extra help to deal with the stresses in their working life. Making this possible by providing extra resources helps employees to seek out extra help when they need it and helps managers to refer people who seem to be under extra pressure. There’s plenty of additional assistance that employers can make available to team members:

  • Provide a stress busting course that teaches team members techniques for combating workplace anxiety. Deep breathing, mindfulness, diet and physical exercise often form a part of courses like these. As an extra step, employers can support what is taught in courses by providing a quiet space for relaxation, supplying healthy snacks and drinks and taking the steps to support physical activity mentioned above.
  • Offer specialist support through occupational health or human resources departments for when individuals need specific support from professionals. Considering offering counselling or psychotherapy can also provide stress-busting additional resources that improve resilience within our teams.

If you need help supporting your team members in developing resilience to stresses in the workplace, we can help. In particular, we can train managers to manage your team in a way that is conducive to lowering employee stress levels and increasing their productivity. To get in touch, simply call 01594 564803 or email