You don’t need a survey to convince you that nearly half of all employees experience stress at some point because of work. Already coined a global health epidemic of the 21st century by the World Health Organization, we can all relate to the feeling of being under daily workplace stress.
In IBM’s Global C-Suite Study, over 5,000 business executives in 70 countries across 21 industries reported an accelerated increase of stress, as technology surges ahead and the level of competition soars.
It seems like things will only get worse as we become even more connected, life will be increasingly faster-paced and work will continue to become more demanding. So perhaps the solution is not to seek out new jobs or new channels of work, but simply to build the resilience necessary for a healthy life.
As neuroscientists and researchers get behind the practical need for positive change in the workplace, here are five great tips that you can adapt — practical ways to build vital resilience skills in your team.
1. Mindful Learning
Psychologists have found a link between mindfulness and job performance. When employees are able to tune in to their environment more, they are free from preoccupation about personal conflicts, and therefore better engaged and better able to deal with matters at hand.
To encourage mindfulness with your employees, you might consider implementing training sessions or having everyone join a webinar that promotes this kind of learning. Strengthening their core talents while showing them you are concerned about their mental growth will promote the desired effect of better job performance.
2. Encourage Time Breaks for Clarity
No one wants to see their employees slacking off, chit-chatting aimlessly or, even worse, napping. But it’s important to be empathetic and recognize that your employees have unique daily rhythms. At certain hours of the day, their focus will be clearer. Other times, they will only have a percentage of that peak energy level. Many leading companies have already figured out that well-rested employees are more alert and more creative, prompting them to invest in such things as nap pods, relaxation rooms and company gyms.
You might not be ready consider those more drastic break solutions. But you can’t deny that taking quality breaks helps your employees do their best. If you want overall productivity to be at its peak, then you need to allow them adequate breaks. You can help your employees be more aware with their circadian rhythms by encouraging them to tackle their more complex tasks first thing in the day, for example.
3. Don’t Cancel Out All Stress
A certain amount of stress can lead to better productivity and can be considered a positive thing. This is what we can refer to as “good stress.” It’s the kind of stress that motivates your team, such deadlines that serve to make production flow continuously and motivate you to meet your goals.
Then, there’s the other kind of stress, which leads to burnout, illness and death. The statistics on chronic stress in the workplace are rising. The good news is that, in 2017, more companies will acknowledge the stress factor by making room for more wellness benefits that will engage and attract employees.
4. Develop Response Flexibility
The trick with developing mental agility is to learn to respond to stress, and not just react to it. Those who have been trained in this skill have the ability to reset their initial reactions, so that they can mentally take a step back and process the full picture.
This skill requires the ability to pause. In order to get a neutral, unbiased reaction, one has to process stress as if detached from it. So, during your next team meeting, try to solve problems by having everyone reflect and observe for a few minutes, rather than trying to solve the problem or come up with a solution immediately. Doing this will help all team members exercise “response flexibility,” a vital resilience skill.
5. Build Compassion as a Team Effort
Doing volunteer activities together, attending a fundraiser or even hosting an outreach project organized within your company will help everyone develop compassion. And compassion is at the heart of resilience.
Trusted researchers at UC Berkeley proved that compassion leads to positive emotions, meaning better work relations, and greater understanding, team effort and collaboration. Cultivating a compassionate culture in your workplace can mean the difference between happy, productive and valuable employees, and workers that are content to just do the bare minimum.
Investment in Resilience Skills
So the big question is: Can your employees learn to be more resilient? We know resilience can’t be bought or acquired overnight. It isn’t an app you can download. Resilience is a skill that is built over time, through conscientious practice. It’s not always easy, and there will be a lot of stumbles and wrong turns, but we can only grow when we are able to fail and learn from our mistakes. This is exactly when resilience skills are activated. Training in resilience skills — whether learned through workshops with a coach or by creating an office culture that encourages the requisite skill set — is essential for growth. If companies can see the benefits of resilience training and implement change, they can create an unstoppable workforce.
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