Workplace stress takes a toll on the mind and body. It can create agitation, sap energy and even cause physical pain.
This is not the “good stress” that motivates people to do their best; the friction between job requirements and the person doing them can exact emotional harm as well.
Perhaps the employee doesn’t have the right skill set for the job, or the resources aren’t there, or the support from leaders and management leaves much to be desired. Yet, whether none, one or all of these factors are at play, the breakneck pace of change in business is not slowing down.
“People are connected 24-7,” said Jan Bruce, founder and CEO of the resilience training app meQuilibrium, which incorporates personal well-being into the workplace. “People feel they have to communicate 24-7, and it doesn’t seem to be driving productivity.”
Instead, that on-all-the-time mentality is producing a lot of run-down workers. According to results from an employee engagement study released by Kronos Inc. and Future Workplace in January, 95 percent of human resource leaders acknowledge burnout is hurting their company’s ability to retain people. With the speed of work poised to move even faster, the solutions companies deploy must be sustainable, Bruce said.
Today’s workers aren’t interested in waiting out a tough working environment, suffering people issues and having no life outside of the office, she said. “People want to feel good right now. They don’t want to work hard for success in 20 years. They want a positive work experience that makes them better for work and life.”
But lately, the better self for work and life may be hard to find. In a survey released in February, the staffing firm Accountemps found 60 percent of workers observed that work-related pressures had gone up in the last five years, and more than half of workers felt stressed at work on a daily basis. Factors like heavy workloads, work-life balance issues and unrealistic expectations from managers were cited as top concerns.
Though business is moving fast, Bill Driscoll, a district president for staffing and research company Accountemps, said in a statement that workers shouldn’t suffer in silence. “They can tap internal resources for help, or seek advice from their managers to ensure they meet work expectations, while maintaining a health work-life balance.”
As companies address workplace culture issues that contribute to a stressful working environment, learning leaders can help employees and their company’s bottom line in several ways, said Suzanne Guthrie, director of learning solutions for the corporate learning and leadership development company Bold New Directions:
- Work with leaders to identify resilience as an organizational value
- Provide interactive training programs about professional and personal resilience
- Share learning resources such as books about resilience
Guthrie also shared some day-to-day practices that can help managers promote resilience among employees:
- Catch people doing something right, and praise positive behaviors
- Set goals and celebrate forward momentum
- Empower employees to problem-solve
- Encourage optimism and positivity as part of the corporate culture
- Reward innovation
Resilience is a competency critical to navigate today’s economy. “It’s such an important element in how we perceive situations and maintain our poise and optimism, even in the face of challenging times,” Guthrie wrote in an email.
In a resilient work environment, business outcomes include better communication, better team morale, improved problem-solving and decision making, greater innovation and better customer satisfaction, Guthrie wrote. On the other hand, “when your resilience tank has run dry, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a tough conversation or a difficult exchange.”
Whether it’s an automobile engine or a business operation, a tank with low or no fuel simply won’t go far.
Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.
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