The workplace is becoming more of a pressure cooker, and whether you want to or not, you might need to deal with your own stress—and the stress of your employees—sooner rather than later.
Only 52 percent of employees strongly agreed that they can manage the pressures of their job, according to research conducted by WFD Consulting, a Watertown, Mass.-based provider of research, consulting and implementation services. Furthermore, only 54 percent agreed that they can maintain their performance during times of change. One out of every four workers said they are "almost always" mentally and physically drained at the end of a workday, and all these percentages feed into the estimation that stress costs American businesses $300 billion annually.
WFD believes these problems are really a lack of resilience, a term they define as "the ability to bounce back from difficulties, manage pressure and adapt quickly to change while continuing to perform at a high level." For employees, a lack of resilience can increase stress-related health problems, burnout and absenteeism.
Amy Richman and Karen Noble, WFD consultants, provide steps that leadership can take to begin building and keeping resilience in an organization.
Engage and educate leaders about the business costs of low resilience. "There is a lot of national data on the stress-related costs due to lack of resilience, and your own company data can be even more convincing," says Richman. "Raise awareness that resilient employees are more likely to actively disengage or leave organizations if organizational problems and turbulence go unchecked."
Identify threats to resilience in the organization and prioritize targets for improvement. "Encourage executives to develop personal action plans to lead efforts that will change organizational norms and practices," Richman says.
Empower managers to foster resilience. "Help managers recognize how their management styles either promote or undermine resilience," she says.
Address and manage employee workload. "Work at the team/work group level to eliminate inefficiencies and practices that lead to burnout," she says.
Equip employees with resilience skills through training. "Having the knowledge and skill sets to perform at a high level, as well as having opportunities to develop and enhance one's knowledge and skills in order to advance and/or apply in different roles and settings, build resilience," she says.
Monitor resilience regularly through periodic pulse surveys. Richman recommends tracking factors such as health, energy, flexibility, access to training and professional development, workload, culture, work-life effectiveness and social support.