Why should employers be concerned about mental health? In 2016, the World Health Organization declared that stress was the “health epidemic of the 21st century.”[i] In 2019, the WHO estimated that lost productivity resulting from the two most common mental health disorders, depression, and anxiety, costs the global economy more than $1 trillion annually, and a recent Gallup poll shows that more people felt stressed, worried, and unhappy in 2020 than in any previous year surveyed.[ii] Now, in the wake of the pandemic, it’s not surprising that many organizations have identified resilience – the ability to adapt to and overcome stressful events or adversity – as a key reason for their success in 2020, and that they’re prioritizing it as a critical element as they look ahead to a stronger future.
Employers focus on stress, prioritize mental health
A recent survey showed that companies are increasingly recognizing the impact of stress on their employees: more than three quarters say that employee mental health is a top priority, and more than half reported that employee use of organizational mental health resources increased during the pandemic.[iii]
For companies to be successful, it’s essential that their employees are able to manage stress, both with their jobs and their personal life. Building strong and meaningful relationships with co-workers, and being supported by their managers, is a key element of helping create a more resilient culture. Because working from home doesn’t give employees the same opportunities to connect with co-workers, employers need to create new ways, so employees do not feel so isolated. For some companies, that may mean setting up hybrid work environments; for others, that might mean leveraging new ways to form and maintain virtual connections.
Resilience is key, especially for leaders
In the face of ongoing uncertainty, resilience, especially for leaders, will be a priority and what sets organizations apart from their competition. Leaders’ willingness to train their workforce to respond effectively during a crisis will be a key factor in determining a company’s agility and success. Leaders that offer training and coaching on resiliency will have a team that will be able to stay mentally tough and take action during a time of crisis. Laura Eiman, a Navy SEAL certified Mental Toughness Coach, and a Resiliency Expert points out that “This mental toughness muscle is something that needs to be built, and life is not a do-it-yourself program.” Resilient organizations don’t just happen – they’re created, one leader at a time and training is an essential part of that process.
Resilient leaders are more able to rebound and move ahead quickly to resolve their challenges. An important characteristic of resilient leaders is that they focus on the opportunity, not the difficulty: a bigger obstacle is merely a stepping stone to greater success, and a chance to build capabilities that will leave them stronger and better able to deal with the changes. Resilient leaders are also much more likely to have a positive mindset, and that in itself can have a tremendous impact on employees to keep them engaged and inspired during hard times. Having your leader show resilience during times of crisis can help reduce workplace stress and be a positive role model to the organization.
Ways to increase resiliency
Here are some steps organizations can take to help build resilience in the workplace.
- Give employees the skills to build resilience by training them on mental toughness, handling obstacles, and other areas that focus on positive coping strategies to handle stress.
- Implement programs that focus on developing a positive mindset to help employees retrain their minds so that they’re better able to focus on success than failure.
- Take steps to strengthen social supports and networks, to make it easier for employees to engage meaningfully with their teammates and superiors.
- Encourage employees to take risks by providing support and helping them find ways to move forward in face of difficulty.
Workplace resiliency training can help contribute to a stronger mindset for employees. Listen to our Bring Out The Talent Podcast: Resiliency and A Winning Mindset for more ideas about how to build resiliency in your team.