Why is PRO-active Resilience So Important Right Now?
Before Covid-19 74% of UK employees were 'overwhelmed or unable to cope' at some point in the past year(1). Stress related mental health conditions were on the rise(2), due to an always on culture(3) as were stress related physical health conditions(5). The pandemic may have reduced stress for some, for many it has increased stress further. Now during these pandemic times stress related health problems have risen and we've become more acutely aware of the impact of lifestyle on our health(8).
Stress causes problems for the workplace(4), in some sectors more so than others(6). Research shows the costly negative impact of stress on employee health as well as engagement and work performance, absenteeism and turnover(7). So now, more than ever, it is essential for businesses to promote employee resilience and wellbeing.
Pre-covid rising levels of stress, depression and anxiety represented 49% of the reasons why people were absent from work. NHS funding for mental health was on the rise by £2b per year (8) and was the largest single reason for disability at 23% of all ill-health. We are begining to see the impact of covid on these figures, this trend has undoubtedly worsened.
It is chronic stress that we are most concerned about. Persistent levels of stress can be both a driver for and cause of poor lifestyle management including poor fitness, comfort eating and poor sleeping alongside increasing toxic stress hormones all increase the probability of stress related dis-ease. We know that chronic stress is a contributory factor to the rise of conditions like auto-immune conditions, dementia (which now affects 1 in 14 over 65), cancer, pain and many other common conditions. And we know certain conditions like obesity and diabetes makes us vulnerable to catching the worst kind of covid-19. Notwithstanding covid-19 has become an evident driver of poor long term health for some survivors and for others, sadly, death.
This pandemic has given many of us a greater sense of realisation that the way we've been operating our lifestyle does actually have an impact on our health. For some it has become a matter of life and death. And we've had to ask ourselves to what extent am I at risk of catching covid, and death, or causing the death of a vulnerable loved one? To what extent can I reduce my risk of such? Besides wearing a mask, what other lifestyle changes can I make that will positively impact on my wellbeing? Yes we can all have the vaccine. If however we believe the vaccine is the full solution employers will be missing an opportunity to change how they better respond to their employees changing needs and expectations.
We now know that our health is affected by our wellbeing and our wellbeing affected by our health (9). However one persistent problem in the resilience literature is understanding its meaning. Specifically, resilience tends to have two somewhat distinct meanings. On one hand, resilience can mean the ability to resist being damaged or deformed by traumas or destructive forces. On the other hand, resilience can also mean readily “bouncing back” or recovering from those traumas or destructive forces. The first definition perceives resilience as a trait an individual needs to survive. The second definition instead emphasizes resilience as a means of thriving. This distinction is important, as an individual facing adversity can go further than merely coping by finding meaning in the trauma-inducing events and utilizing this meaning to enhance their well-being (10).
And it is this that employers now need to do. To provide a safe, supportive and connected environment for employees, by way of operating in a manner that helps them prevent risk of injury, illness and trauma and support their recovery from a period of challenge in a way that helps get their needs to flourish met.
So its about recognising that what we do today, makes all the difference to our recovery from this huge global challenge. The way we pro-actively lead our personal lifestyles, the way we pro-actively manage our emotional health, the way we pro-actively manage our relationships, the way employers pro-actively manage the work environment. Not only does it have an impact on performance, it has an impact on our wellbeing today and down the line. It impacts on our longevity and the quality of life in our elder years.
The question is 'do we want to change?' Now many say yes but there is a risk of slippage back into old ways, particularly if the work environment does not support that change. Is this pandemic enough of a critical moment to make some simple changes to your lifestyle, to the relationships around, to the work environment, in favour of making a profound positive impact on your resilience, wellbeing and performance? For some perhaps not, for others undoubtedly YES for we know that many people are leaving their jobs. There is currently a tsunami of employee attrition and employers must do something to prevent it becoming the new norm but there doesn't seem to be many employees to recruit. So now, more then ever, organisations would serve their bottom line better by being pro-active with personal, relationship and organisational resilience with the employees they do have now and lean into the future to attract, retain and engage staff to empower your business performance.
There is clearly a need for a culture change in business
employers are starting to recognise that WELLBEING
and PERFORMANCE are 2 sides of the same coin
Employees are voting with their feet
by leaving for something better
Employers must get ahead of the curve
NEW cost effective techniques and technology
will make all difference between those
organisations that barely survive to those that
thrive from this challenge