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Bouncing back from burnout: Resilience in the workplace

Bouncing back from burnout: Resilience in the workplace

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Stress.  Undue tension. Disengagement.  Burnout.

On the job, burnout reflects a sense of an employee’s loss of control over the work, including long working hours, lack of support, being unsure of expectations, or not feeling capable or willing to achieve the task asked of them to perform.  In addition, as more technologies are adapted to the workplace, there can be a real fear that the job will disappear. It can be a toxic mix, and in this environment, it is critical for employees to be able to adapt to the circumstances; in other words, to be resilient.

Coat of armor

In February a survey run by Infosecurity Europe and Forrester Research examined the repercussions of the pressures faced by workers in the cyber security field. Over half of the workers polled said they’d made significant errors “as a result of being overstretched or stressed at work.” Furthermore, 45.5% said their organization did not provide behavioral health supports to those responding to data breaches or cyber attacks.

Employee behavioral health and wellbeing is essential to all organizations. Employers should recognize that employees who can resiliently navigate changing priorities, heavier workloads, job insecurity, and technological demands are healthier, more committed to the employer, and are better able to carry out tasks productively.

Resilience is a person’s ability to “bounce back from and grow and thrive during challenge, change, and adversity,” says Paula Davis-Laake in a Psychology Today blog post. “It’s not enough to just bounce back; employees today must develop a thicker coat of armor so that future stressors don’t have as much of an impact.”

Companies now have an opportunity, if not an obligation, to help build more resilience in their workforce today.

Building resilience

What can employers do to enhance resilience in the workforce? To begin, look at your corporate wellness strategy. It should include effective behavioral health, financial literacy, and wellbeing tools and programs. Employees should be aware of your employee assistance program (EAP) and any behavioral health supports available through the benefit plan and in the community.  And of course, open communication and encouragement from management is vital, especially during unstable times.

But beyond these basics, employers can take positive steps to help employees become resilient:

  • Encourage social connections, both at work and in the wider community. Consider a mentorship program to help develop professional aptitude and connections.
  • Foster an attitude of learning, so that problems become opportunities to develop new skills. Organize workshops and seminars on stress management, training on new trends, and resilience training.
  • Provide flexibility in working roles and hours and take steps to ensure everyone is kept in the loop during times of change. Support those who are recovering from stress, mental illness, or burnout through flexible leave arrangements and return-to-work programs.
  • Show how their work has value and impact. Celebrate even the smallest successes. Consider bringing in motivational speakers, and help employees develop realistic goals that build a sense of purpose.
  • Allow time for play and exercise. According to Nina Bartmann, senior behavioral researcher at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, “The biggest behavioral barriers preventing an employee from taking a walking or stretch break at work is the perception they aren’t hardworking if they step away from an assignment.” Even these short breaks can revitalize the spirit and bring fresh energy to the task.

Workplace change continues to outpace our employee’s ability to manage the behavioral health consequences. That can leave workers bewildered and stressed. The time to focus on resilience techniques at work is now.

 

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