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7 ways to be more resilient at work


Resilience is a complex concept – most definitions agree that it is the ability to withstand and overcome adversity and unpleasant or difficult events successfully, and to be able to adapt to change or uncertainty. We have certainly all had to navigate new and unchartered territories during the past year.  Our personal resilience has been tested, our worlds suddenly very different and everything unknown. Organisations have responded by finding new ways of looking after and building team resilience whilst embracing new ways of working.

Managing stress, workload and family life, all impact our resilience levels. These are key areas for us to explore when assessing our resilience and more widely, when we begin to examine teams.

Organisational psychologist Kathryn McEwen and work-related stress and recovery expert Dr Peter Winwood co-developed the Resilience at Work (RAW) scale in order to measure work resilience. The benefits of measuring resilience are numerous: professional and personal development for employees, team development and improving employee wellbeing can all be achieved after certain behaviours are identified which may be preventing the individual or group from achieving true resilience. Each component measured by the scale can be improved through self-awareness of current effectiveness, followed by the implementation of specific strategies. This means resilience can be both taught and developed.

There are seven core components to the RAW scale, each of which can be improved upon to increase overall resilience and lead a more productive, healthy and happy life. We have outlined these below, along with suggestions of ways to improve your own personal wellbeing by addressing them proactively.

1. Living Authentically

This means knowing and holding on to your personal values, deploying your strengths and having a good level of emotional awareness and regulation. One way to begin living a more authentic life is to define your most important values, re-evaluating what is crucial to you at this point in time and aligning your actions around those things. By being clear about what you care about the most in work and other aspects of your life, you allow authenticity to take hold.

2. Finding Your Calling

By seeking work that has purpose, gives us a sense of wellbeing and fits well with our core values and beliefs, we naturally become more resilient as we enjoy what we do and will be willing to put up with challenging aspects to continue doing what we love the most. You can find your calling by taking note of what captivates you in life – what excites you the most, that you can immerse yourself in without becoming tired or bored? Taking into account previous experiences can also help to identify what you should and shouldn’t dedicate your life’s work to.

3. Maintaining Perspective

When we have the capacity to reframe our setbacks, maintain our focus on solving problems and manage our own negativity, we become more resilient. One exercise to help maintain perspective is to start working each day with the things that matter the most. By using your energy to achieve these things first, you will feel confident and satisfied that you have accomplished the essentials, even if other tasks are left uncompleted at the end of the day.

4. Managing Stress

Everyday stressors can gradually grind us down, hindering our productivity and mental health. To manage stress requires the employment of work and life routines that maintain balance and allow time for relaxation. Planning ahead by creating a spreadsheet of what needs to be done (or even a simple ‘to do’ list) along with expected completion dates and deadlines is one of the best ways to cope with stress, reminding you what absolutely need to be accomplished each day and what can wait. Reward yourself with time spent relaxing once a productive day of work is achieved.

5. Interacting Co-operatively

By seeking feedback, advice and support while also providing support to others, we form productive working relationships that will help us to feel valued and become more resilient. Arranging regular meetings with colleagues in order to communicate clearly with one another will encourage this productive working practice.

6. Staying Healthy

It is easy to neglect our personal health when work takes up so much of our time, but maintaining a good level of fitness and a healthy diet has been scientifically proven to improve our mental state, which includes our resilience. Investing time and effort into finding an exercise we enjoy doing and planning meals that are both healthy and delicious will pay dividends, making you a healthier and happier person.

7. Building Networks

Humans are social animals, and need to develop and maintain personal support networks in order to live a fulfilling life. Consider the people in your life who you can fall back on when things get tough and remember that they will be there no matter how bad it gets. Create new networks by joining clubs or signing up to social events that you have a personal interest in.

The RAW scale’s seven attributes show that it is not just habits that we formulate at work that have an effect on our resilience – every aspect of our life needs to be taken into account in order for us to grow as individuals and teams.

We have seen an increased focus from organisations to support employees with personal resilience, so they are best equipped to deal with on going change.  To promote wellbeing, boost resilience and performance, discover our Building Resilient Teams workshop or for longer term Resilience programmes or coaching contact us here

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