How to strengthen resilience

Strengthen resilience: Stress stay away!

Your employees are constantly stressed and frequently ill? Then it is high time to strengthen resilience in your company. Here you can find out how.

Agile, flexible, “always-on”: The age of digitization demands a lot from employees. One person gets along well with it, the other feels increasingly stressed by the dynamics and in the worst-case becomes ill. To prevent this, companies should strengthen resilience among their employees. But what does that mean in concrete terms?

There are people who flourish under great stress: The report was actually due yesterday? No problem. The customer visit was brought forward at short notice? Then the other dates have to be moved as well. Anyone who really gets going under high pressure has a high level of resilience. These people should also continue to strenghten resilience to be well-prepared for the challenging digital age.

In turn, the growing flood of information, constant restructuring, shortened innovation cycles, and increasing work density are causing massive problems for many employees. This is shown, among other things, by the ever-increasing number of mental illnesses: According to the DAK Psycho report, the number of sick days due to psychological complaints tripled between 1997 and 2017 meaning that the corporate resilience decreases. These people need to actively strengthen resilience.

Resilience can be learned

Fortunately, something can be done about it: resilience can be learned and strengthened – similar to football or table tennis. Because resilience is not a static toolbox of personal characteristics or positive environmental factors, but a variable and multidimensional process, which ideally – like sports training – is designed continuously. In other words, if you train regularly, you can actively strengthen your personal resistance to stress. And also master stressful job situations calmly.

For this reason alone, companies should put the topic to strengthen resilience on their agenda. This includes first of all thoroughly analyzing and – wherever possible – to strenghten resilience constellations in management levels, departments and teams. Important: The focus should not be on pathogenesis but on salutogenesis. In concrete terms: Instead of just asking what made someone sick or threatened to make them sick, the main thing is to find out what can keep them healthy. Preventive approaches to occupational health management therefore attempt not only to work on deficits but also to build on the strengths of an employee. Occupational medical or industrial and organizational psychological (I/O psychology) analyses help.

The role model function of management

The linchpin to strenghten resilience is management. The mental health of the entire workforce cannot be separated from the personal resilience of individual superiors. After all, managers are role models on the one hand and stress factors on the other – for example, when a project manager sends instructions to his team at midnight. The message at untimely times burdens employees twice: digitally in the evening and in the office the next day. The consequences are often loss of quality, dissatisfaction, and increasing sick leave. This makes it all the more important to strengthen resilience of the executive floor first.

In addition to the corporate resilience check, it is also critical to modernizing the mindset of corporate culture – for example, by dealing with mistakes in an open, transparent and solution-oriented manner. This contributes not only to quality improvements but also to higher employee satisfaction. Finally, to strenghten resilience should be anchored as a strategic initiative with the necessary resources throughout the company as well as the corporate goals. This is the only way to ensure that the topic is permanently embedded in the collective consciousness of employees and management.

Employees who strengthen resilience are more productive

And that is important: because employee satisfaction increases in parallel with strengthen resilience. Those who experience their boss as balanced, confident, communicative and loyal will be less ill. According to the AOK Absenteeism Report 2018, a resilient employee is absent for an average of 9.4 days a year – only about half as much as employees who constantly feel stressed. Find out how you can strenghten resilience of your managers and employees through intervention and training approaches – with TÜV Rheinland.

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Norbert Wieneke
Norbert Wieneke