All around the world, stress levels in the workplace are increasing. And the causes of stress—they keep mounting, too. It’s not just heavy workloads and unrealistic deadlines any more. No, the workers of today have to contend with such heady issues as climate change and political tumult as well.

Stats show that highly stressed-out employees take, on average, two more sick days per year than those who report low stress levels. What’s more, an employee who is highly stressed is 50 per cent more likely to show up for work while sick and unproductive!

So, the question becomes, what is the best way to combat stress in the workplace? How do we turn an office full of people who are anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable into flexible and adaptive rockstars?

The answer is simple: resilience.

What is resilience?

At first glance, ‘resilience’ might seem like something intangible. It’s one of those qualities that a person either has or doesn’t have. It’s a characteristic, rather than a teachable skill.

But you can build it. Yes, resilience is something that can be learned, cultivated, and improved upon.

What makes resilience important?

It is important because resilient people get things done.

Dr. Cal Grow, Programme Director at the Centre for Learning Connections, pointed out the following attributes of resilient people in an interview at Mindtools.

He suggests that resilient people:

  • believe in a bright future
  • have goals, and a strong desire to actualize them
  • have high levels of empathy and compassion.

A resilient person is not only one who helps build a culture of positivity and productivity in the workplace. They also feel what the customer feels. Therefore, they can relate to customers better, understand the best way to meet the customer’s needs.

Now, let’s take a look at a few ways how you, too, can bring resilience into your workplace.

Ways to build resilience

First, improve your physical wellbeing. Second, improve your mental wellbeing. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

1. Start with your body

Remember that old adage, a healthy body leads to a healthy mind? Well, Tom Rath and Him Harter, co-authors of the book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, point out that those with physical well-being have more energy, less stress, and display higher levels of resilience. They are more productive, enjoy more positive moods, and report higher levels of engagement with both co-workers and customers.

Adding an Employee Wellness Program is always a good start for getting bodies up and moving.

2. Get a toolkit to help you improve and grow your mental resilience

A proven way to combat stress and build resilience is The ORANGES Toolkit. The name is an acronym. It stands for Optimism, Resilience, Attitude, Now (mindfulness), Gratitude, Energy, and Strengths.

It’s a program based on positive psychology, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence, using research conducted at leading academic institutions. It has been developed into a ‘toolkit,’ with a measurable component that businesses like yours can use to turn their corporate cultures around.

Many organisations across Australia have already experienced the difference that ORANGES.

David Arkles at Camp Quality, a children’s cancer charity in Australia, told Training x Design that, ‘the organisation’s overall resilience and productivity dramatically improved,’ since it worked through the ORANGES program.

‘One could argue,’ Arkles went on, ‘that the whole intervention of ORANGES and the ongoing positive psychology cultural elements we have in the organisation is perhaps the leading reason why we are the fourth most successful charitable organisation in Australia.’

This is an incredible turnaround for Camp Quality. Just 10 years ago, this cornerstone charity was facing the wall. Transforming the culture with ORANGES has completely transformed its performance.

3. Change how you think about stress

Stress leads to actual physiological changes in the human body. However, according to a Harvard study, those changes aren’t necessarily negative.

For instance, if you can learn to view those changes as supporting your ability to better cope with stress in the future, then you can welcome stress as a positive thing. The Harvard study showed that, when this shift in outlook is achieved, your body can actually begin to respond to stress in the same way that it responds to feelings of intense joy.

4. Be present

Mindfulness exercises, of which there are many, are increasingly popular, and with good reason. There are many benefits to being mindful. They include increased cognitive flexibility, better overall job performance, and lower stress levels.

Those who participate regularly in mindfulness exercises also report improvements in their level of resilience, and a better sense of overall wellbeing.

5. Promote a pleasant environment

This might seem obvious to you if your workplace is already pleasant, but for some of us it leaves a lot to be desired.

One of the best ways to promote resilience in your workplace is to make sure that you have a healthy psychological environment. What this means is that your managers consider both mental wellbeing and productivity — instead of productivity alone. Happy and mentally healthy employees are those who have job security, are trained in new skills they might use to advance themselves, and have workloads that are interesting and manageable. A positive environment in the workplace is one where resilience can’t help but take root, grow and thrive.

In summary

Resilience in the workplace can bloom in many ways. You encourage it to grow by helping your employees improve their physical wellbeing, to helping them attain learn how to achieve more positive outlook. But the result is always the same. A company with resilient employees is one that engages better with its customers, and enjoys protracted, stable growth, even in the face of the unimaginable — such as when the trifecta of natural disasters, recession and political turmoil hits. Resilience is what helped the tourism industry in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to rebound after a decade of intense crisis. If resilience can work industry in countries in the very worst of conditions, it can work for you.

The ORANGES Toolkit transforms cultures like nothing else

Give your team members the right toolkit to stay on track, resilient, and productive, and knowledge of how to use it.