Are you paying enough attention to employee resilience and wellbeing?
Employee resilience and wellbeing is increasingly becoming a business critical issue. And it’s not hard to see why when you consider the facts: the number of employees suffering from mental health problems, such as work related stress and anxiety, has risen from a quarter to a third over the past five years (CIPD) and in the past 12 months alone, over 11.7 million work days were lost due to stress related absence (HSE).
Defined as a state of mind in which an individual is able to realise their abilities, cope with the normal stressors of life and work productively, it makes sense for organisations to invest in and promote wellbeing. It can however, be a difficult task. With businesses now in a constant state of flux, we increasingly expect employees to quickly adapt to new challenges and changes. In such environments, it’s unlikely to come as a surprise that pressures and stressors can easily build, sometimes with damaging consequences if individuals feel ill-equipped to deal with everything being asked of them. Burnout, increased illness and poor performance are just some of the ways it can manifest itself.
Leading by example
Managers and leaders therefore have an important role to play in building employee resilience and safeguarding wellbeing. During periods of increased pressure or change, employees will look to managers and business leaders for guidance, and will often base their responses on the reactions and behaviours they observe.
Developing resilient leaders
Developing resilience in our managers from both a personal and leadership perspective has many advantages and will ensure they can confidently and competently support employees when times get tough. However, it’s not simply about teaching new skills. It requires an element of self-reflection to better understand individual triggers and reactions to stress, and the development of coping strategies that allow them as leaders to build their own personal resilience. In turn this will ensure that positive, resilient behaviours are modelled. Importantly, it also helps to ensure that managers are more alert to the early warning signs of stress and poor wellbeing in others and feel equipped to take swift action and help individuals develop their own coping mechanisms.
Recognise the warning signs
Signs of stress or burnout can, at times, be more obvious to those around an individual than the individual themselves. As a manager, you may notice changes in an employee’s behaviour that can signify signs of stress or burnout. Key warning signs to be aware of are:
A slump in productivity or quality: for example they may start to become unreliable or regularly miss deadlines, receive frequent complaints from clients, or there may have been a notable decline in their performance over recent months
Detachment or disengagement: an employee seems to disconnect or lose their spark, perhaps manifesting itself through poor communication with co-workers, an overall lack of enthusiasm or an unwillingness to collaborate.
Increased pessimism: if a normally positive person shows on-going negativity or endlessly complains.