Why Employee Resilience is More Powerful than Stress Reduction

The majority of employees believe workers face more on-the-job stress now than a generation ago, according to the Princeton Survey Research Associates. And it’s no surprise. As technology advances, we spend more time connected to devices and less time connecting with ourselves.

That makes it all too easy to check our work email during a family dinner or to stay up late to work on a project. Even though we’d likely feel — and perform better the next day — if we didn’t.

But, as the pace and intensity of the work we do isn’t likely to slow down, we have to re-focus our energy on controlling the one thing we can: ourselves.

That’s why it’s more effective to teach employee resilience than it is stress reduction. Stress is a part of life. And, in fact, not all of it is bad. When you equip employees to respond to stress effectively, you help them bounce back instead of burning out.

Here are three reasons why resilient employees always rise to the top.

1. They’re more productive.

Studies show that stressful working conditions are associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness and the desire to quit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Conversely, employees who are equipped to manage that stress are able to thrive in the face of adversity.

How do they do it?

One method is practicing mindfulness. Tackle “like” tasks in the same day — and one at a time. Managers can help their team to compartmentalize their work, which helps them avoid context switching. It can also help them tune out distractions and boost productivity.

2. They develop deeper connections.

Forging strong relationships is an important aspect of resilience. Ever had a stressful day, only to feel better after telling another co-worker about it? Verbalizing why you’re stressed out can often help to alleviate it. And returning the favor by listening when someone else is in need can help to forge a positive relationship.

There are four distinct pathways to building high-quality relationships at work, according to Psychology Today. Those pathways include:

  • Communicating supportively and being an effective listener
  • Facilitate another person’s success with guidance, recognition and support
  • Build trust, which can be done by delegating responsibility and then trusting the other person to do his or her part
  • Create moments of play at work

The last one is especially important, yet it’s often overlooked. We tend to take our work — and ourselves — too seriously, forgetting the value of play. Research shows that play is actually associated with positive emotions, as well as creativity and innovation. Spark both by encouraging managers to start their next department meeting with a game, such as Catch Phrase. Organize the group into two teams, mixing it up so they’re working with people they may not know as well.

3. They practice perseverance.

We all experience setbacks. Resilient employees bounce back when something doesn’t go according to plan. They find another way. That passion and perseverance is often referred to as “grit.” And psychologist Angela Duckworth, author of the best-selling book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” says it’s among the most important predictors of success.

The good news? Duckworth also says you can grow your grit. Consider providing employees with techniques to help them respond to stress effectively. Breathing exercises are a great place to start. When faced with a stressful work situation, encourage employees to stop, take a step back and breathe. This also gives them time to think about their next course of action.

Want to build a team that can take on anything? Learn more about our coaching sessions on employee resilience.