How HR Can Improve Resilience with Staff That Thrive Not Just Survive

Posted by Aaron Keegan 15-Jan-2016 15:32:02

In this article we will look at how HR can improve resilience by recognising the different ways people respond to stress and change.

Being resilient is your bounce-back-ability, so the first step is to understand what you are bouncing back too. Many people are quick to tell you what stresses them out, but are unable to say what outcome they want. The truth is, if you can't get a picture in your mind of the outcome you want, you won't be able to solve the problem.

If you are given a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle to do, the first thing you would look for is the picture on the box. You always need to know what you are working towards. There's no way any of us can put together the puzzles of life - peace of mind, joy, being happy - unless we can first see what it looks like when it's all done. Whether you know it or not, you always start with a picture of the end result in your mind. Whether this picture is good or bad is up to you. This concept is a crucial part of how you deal with your stress and how happy you are with the outcomes.

There are four ways we tend to deal with stress:

1. We throw our hands up and just give up
2. We take a big breath and put up (or endure it)
3. We let it roll off our back and bounce up (recover)
4. We step up with confidence (use it to our gain)

Now, let's look at each of the four ways and think about how they differ in dealing with the same stressor. Let's say that in a merger, someone gets laid off from their long-time job.

1) Say this person gives up. What would that look like? The person that gives up may stay at home. He may be mad and full of self-pity. He?s depressed and won't even go out and look for a new job. Maybe he turns to drinking or maybe he overeats. He gives in to a feeling of despair. He feels like a victim. He just gives up.

2) Now how about a person that puts up? A person that puts up is very hurt at first, as most people would be. He may try to bounce back. He may go out and look for new work. He may get a new job but he says to himself, "my other boss didn't care about me. I'm sure this new boss won't care about me either". He doesn't really give 100% effort, because no one (in his mind) really cares about him. His self-worth is lessened, and there is still a feeling of being a victim. That's putting up.

3) What about someone who bounces up? A person who bounces up after the letdown of the lay-off would go out and find a new job. It may take a lot of searching and great effort, and he may have to keep at it for a while. But the new job would be just as good as the old job. In other words, he has returned to his former level of living. He's healed through his resiliency. That's bouncing up.

4) And, lastly, we have the person who steps up. The person who steps up is not immune to the pain of losing their job, but they see a chance where others may not see one. Then they respond quickly. They go out and take a class or two. They improve their old skills and hone some new skills. And while they're learning new skills, they take a new job to put food on the table and make money. This job might not be as exciting to them, but they think: "I've met some nice people and I've learned to make this job fun". At some point, they find a job using the skills they've trained themselves for. Now they've grown to a higher level. The people who step up end up in better places in work and life than they were in before the stressor.

That's the four levels. Now what we're looking for in employees, of course, is to bounce up and step up. A stronger base of bouncing up, and more and more moments of thriving in life (stepping up), are the main goals. Apply these four responses to typical stresses and changes in your business and see if you can identify where your employees are.

Look for ways to develop bounce up and step up responses within your workforce. We would suggest focusing on the four pillars that help key to an individuals performance:

  1. Physical
  2. Mental
  3. Emotional
  4. Professional

Create or ensure your corporate wellness programme allow staff the opportunity to manage and improve these pillars to create the energy and positivity to see change as a challenge, make the commitment to solve the challenge and take control of the situation.

Topics: Resilience

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