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How to improve employee resilience in the workplace

Employers around Australia and the world are now realising just how much stress is a significant factor for lost productivity in the workplace. Other than causing absenteeism and reduced engagement at work, stress may also contribute to serious health problems, including risk for heart disease, stroke, anxiety and depression.

Because of this, resiliency programs are becoming increasingly important to improve employee health. Resilience can be described as the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands.

A study in the United States* found that employee participation in resilience training programs was associated with positive outcomes with nearly three-quarters of participants. They not only valued the training programs but were more likely to participate when management or organisational leadership participated.

It was also reported their experience with a resilience program had improved their health "a great deal" or a "fair amount" with additional health benefits being less stress and sleeping better.

But what is a resilience program and how is it implemented into the workplace?

Understand the problem

  • Consider conducting a needs assessment using reliable and valid questionnaires to identify employees who may have low resilience and could benefit from these programs.
  • Identify the main contributors of stress, including whether contributing factors vary within your workplace that may indicate different needs.

Determine program design

  • Offer flexibility: make the program available at the workplace during work hours to reduce concerns about travel and time off work.
  • Have multiple options for delivery available such as individual, group, classroom, online and mobile sessions.  Tailor the program based on employee preferences obtained by a needs assessment.
  • Consider integrating resilience training into new employee training, with regular follow-up or booster sessions.

Create a supportive workplace culture

  • If leadership supports and encourages the program, employees are more likely to participate in resilience training and take advantage of related resources.
  • Incorporate practices that support building resilience such as opportunities for staff to recover from workplace stress (using their paid time off, taking advantage of workplace health programs, provide employees professional development support).

Continuously assess the program

  • Consider measuring resilience at the start, the conclusion and ideally at 12-24 months follow-up to assess changes over time.
  • Use validated questionnaires to measure other outcomes such as mental health and productivity and objectively measure physical health outcomes such as physical activity or blood pressure.

Future research is needed to better define resilience, measure it accurately and understand the mechanisms through which resilience leads to health and work performance outcomes.

More evidence is also needed to understand which program elements best predict resilience as an outcome, but growing research demonstrates a keen interest in investigating the effectiveness of these programs within the workplace setting.

Find out more and Follow us

To find out more about resilience training programs and other rehabilitation topics follow Thrive Re Consulting  on Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe to our "Thriving Life" Newsletter.

*Referenced from the report Resilience in the Workplace: An Evidence Review and Implications for Practice by the American Heart Association Centre for Workplace Health Research and Evaluation. https://healthmetrics.heart.org/

Thrive Re Consulting is proud to be a signatory organisation to the Australian Consensus Statement of the Australasian Faculty of  Occupational and Environmental Medicine on the Health Benefits of Work.

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Contact us AT  THRIVE RE CONSULTING

Vicki Ruskin 0413 954 400

vicki@thrivere.com.au

Liz Rodley 0438 945 645

liz@thrivere.com.au

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