Resilience is the corporate buzzword of 2018. Yep, we all quickly grew tired of being innovative and agile and shifting paradigms with transformative blue sky thinking. This year it is all about being resilient.
You are going to hear the word ‘resilient’ about 29,000 times in 2018. It’s going to be up there in big bold letters in countless tedious PowerPoint presentations. Your manager will no doubt try hard to work this buzzword in to every possible sentence. A committee will probably be formed to rewrite the mission statement and slip the word ‘resilient’ in there.
But will anyone know what it means? The whole concept of resilience is poorly understood and far too often the word is completely misused.
Resilience in not code for “harden the f*** up”
I’ve had quite a few conversations with managers who have said something along the lines of “I worked 70-hour weeks and was constantly abused by my boss, but I survived. These kids need to harden the… I mean, we need to teach these young people how to be more resilient.”
This all too common attitude is one of the main reasons why we still have such a huge issue with workplace mental health. Sadly, we keep on repeating terrible behaviours from the past and expecting better outcomes. The plain fact is, no one will ever solve anything by simply telling people to “harden up”. In fact, that approach is bound to make things far worse.
Often millennials are the target of particular scorn – derided for being “too soft” because they are less inclined to follow in the footsteps of generations before and serve as stoic corporate warriors, whilst silently suffering. Ready or not, they are driving change. Millennials are far better educated about mental health and they expect their employers to do the right thing. Rather than putting the onus on young employees to ”harden up”, most organisations would do well to look at how they can change and create a supportive, mentally healthy environment.
Being “hard” is far different from being resilient
When you test for psychological resilience you will soon discover that workers who are considered exceptionally “hard” do not necessarily have high levels of resilience. Despite possessing the bravery to perform their duties in the face of great danger, not all emergency service workers are equipped with the skills to bounce back effectively from adverse circumstances or adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress (which is the definition of psychological resilience).
Behaviours considered “hard” often get in the way of building real resilience. When attempting to fit in to the classic corporate warrior mould, many workers will block out difficult emotions, avoid seeking help or turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as excessive alcohol use. Often serious issues go unnoticed and untreated until they reach a crisis point.
At any time around 20% of workers may be experiencing a mental health issue. If this figure seems high to you, it may just be because your workmates are attempting to be “hard” and are “soldiering on” unsupported. Providing the right support can make a huge positive impact, both for the worker and the employer.
To build resilience you need to build skills
Resilience is not something you either have or don’t have. It is something which can be developed over time. We commend any manager who is serious about building resilience to take a break from creating all those slick, buzzword-laden PowerPoint presentations and start equipping employees with the right skills.
From the empirical research we know there are many factors which can positively impact upon resilience. In developing RAW Mind Coach, we closely examined this research, then set about teaching a range of essential skills to workers. Already, the transformations have been impressive.
Rather than relying on old, unhelpful coping strategies, workers who have completed RAW Mind Coach are now utilising new skills which are both healthier and more effective. As well as scoring higher on measures of psychological resilience, most also report feeling more confident in knowing what to do when faced with challenging situations and times of high stress.
Building resilience will not magically fix everything
The purpose of building resilience is not so workers will simply “put up” with a whole lot of terrible stuff that keeps getting thrown their way. While most workers will gain a great deal from resilience training, it’s not a magical cure for bullying, harassment or a toxic workplace culture. These problems still need to be properly addressed if you wish to nurture good mental health.
Resilience building serves a crucial proactive role and should form part of your workplace mental health strategy. There are however other pieces to the puzzle. If, like many, you’re not sure of what to do or where to start, this guide can provide you with some helpful insights.
Building resilience is a safety essential that actually saves you money
When you consider that mental health issues are now the most common form of workplace injury, equipping workers with the right protective skills is an essential safety measure. Unfortunately, organisations often perceive addressing mental health issues as something that is too difficult, too awkward or too expensive.
In developing RAW Mind Coach, we aimed to create an online program that was affordable, accessible and extremely business-friendly. It’s quick to rollout, self-paced for busy workers and can cost less than steel cap boots, a safety harness or most other gear that prevents avoidable injuries.
Effective mental health problems have also been shown to be incredibly good for business, delivering a highly positive return on investment ($2.30 for every dollar spent according to a recent study by PWC/Beyond Blue). Investing in mental health can also prevent a great deal of unnecessary suffering and help to create a work environment that is more enjoyable, more respectful and more productive.