Stress management, Emotional Wellbeing and Resilience have all been buzz words for the last few years, but until Senior Management in organisations up and down the country realise the benefits of a physically and emotionally healthy workforce, nothing will change.
The concept of Stress Management assumes that people are already stressed (that means they are having an adverse reaction to excessive pressures) and are willing to learn the skills to reduce their perceived pressures to a manageable level by employing effective lifestyle and life skill techniques.
Emotional Wellbeing is a state achieved in an individual when they find a balance between effective mental and physical health. Enhanced emotional well-being contributes to increasing self-esteem, performance and productivity at work, and has even been related to longevity (Levin 2000).
Resilience has many definitions
– a defence mechanism, which enables people to thrive in the face of adversity (Davydov et al 2010)
– the process of gaining a robust attitude in the face of challenging and threatening events. (Mowbray 2012)
– the ability to ‘bounce back’ after challenging experiences (APA 2015)
I see Resilience as a package of skills, attitudes and behaviours all grounded in positive emotions. Individuals and organisations can learn and develop these skills, attitudes and behaviours at any time to help support wellbeing, competence, capability, efficiency and thus the bottom line of business
First and foremost we need to take stock – audit the current status – be it personal or organisational – then build accordingly based on substantiated data which tells us which initiatives work.
How often have you said “I need to get my head into gear” or “this job makes me feel totally drained”?
These and many other thoughts and comments indicate that some of us are overwhelmed, emotionally drained, rendered incapable, feeling powerless, or even helpless.
What are we doing to ourselves ?
What are we doing to our workforce ?
What are we doing to our organisations?
There are many pressures on individuals and organisations in today’s workplace and society, and individuals as well as organisations that understand what they have to do, to stay well in both body and mind (be it corporate or individual) will not only thrive but stay alive longer.
One of our key assets is our colleagues and if they are not encouraged to engage in resilient attitudes, behaviours and skills, both they and the organisation will suffer.
To be effective, colleagues need to be self-motivated, take on the responsibility for their own physical and emotional wellbeing and be able to recognise and celebrate their success.
Emotionally resilient managers and leaders are thoughtful, strong, empathic, flexible, optimistic and full of vitality; they have vision and adhere to core values that are meaningful, congruent and realistic for all. Resilient leaders do not bully and coerce their colleagues, they work with their colleagues strengths and enable them to achieve and experience success.
It follows that ‘Resilience Training’ is not a panacea or an excuse to tell people to “Face Up” to perceived challenges and excessive pressures. Learning about the Steps to Resilience and how to make them work in an individual manner, will empower Managers and their colleagues to :
– learn about stress and how to control it in life and work
– value the opportunity for challenge and competition
– be prepared to make commitments
– feel better about themselves and know how to control their pressure points
– treat each other with respect and empathy
– learn the values of laughter, humour, optimism and flexibility
– have confidence to approach new situations and new people with a positive self-image and self-esteem
– discover the value of humour and laughter
– appreciate the importance of friends and family networks
– engage in realistic optimism
– practice taking a flexible thinking approach to challenges and issues
– make a (flexible) plan to help achieve personal/organisational goals
These attributes ARE achievable – our businesses and country would be the better for more of these elusive resilient people.
More importantly, the outcomes are measurable.
A Wellbeing Assessment is the opposite of a Stress Risk Assessment.
Regular Assessment allows HR/Management to assess the value of interventions as well as the areas of need and has the advantage of satisfying the legal requirement of any organisation of 5 or more people to carry out a Risk Assessment for Stress (H & S at Work Regs 1999).
Ann McCracken is a Director of AMC2 and the vice president of the International Management Association (ISMA UK) – the professional body for stress management Practitioners.
She specialises in developing a positive and resilient working culture in organisations by introducing effective strategies in performance and wellbeing at all levels. The effectiveness of such a positive working culture is measured and assessed using AMC2 Corporate Diagnostic innovative surveys which include measurement of psychosocial factors, stress and wellbeing. Having initially trained as a scientist, she carried out research with DEFRA and consultancy in the NHS.
She spent 10 years in Education before retraining as a stress management practitioner in 1996. She is the author of Stress Gremlins©, regularly writes/broadcasts and is an external lecturer at Westminster University. She is also a Key Note/Motivational speaker/Conference Chair.