Resilience is Big Business - and Big for Business.

Ruby Yeats 14.05.2018

The practice of resilience is learning to be calm, energised, engaged, focused, and in flow

According to a recent study by ABS, 45% of Australians between the ages of 16-85 will suffer from a mental health condition during their lifetime. Best estimation is that this costs Australian workplaces $10.9 billion per year (made up primarily of absenteeism, lost productivity, compensation claims and recruitment costs associated with replacing outgoing employees).

So - what do we do? How do we foster happier, healthier workplaces with thriving employees? 

We train resilience.

Morgan McKinley’s newly articulated purpose can be summed up pretty simply - we’re here to improve lives. The purpose based” business trend has swept every industry (think Apple’s “start with why?” approach), and for good reason. It helps employees feel connected and engaged, increases loyalty and drive, and encourages positive customer relationships.

This commitment to improving lives, as a recruitment business, means a focus on three key stakeholders - clients, candidates, and employees. Improving client and candidate lives - well, that’s for another blog. This blog seeks to address a simple way that we as a business - and, potentially your business too - can improve employee’s lives… which brings us back to resilience.

What “resilience” means:

Whether we label it flexibility, think of it as “grit”, or simply define it by an ability to recover from adversity, we all know one of those people who can take it all in his/her stride. Like water off a duck’s back, this person weathers life's many storms and always seems to emerge high and dry - and we envy them for it!

This is the kind of attitude we should be trying to foster. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to borrow the definition put forward by The Resilience Institute:

Find yourself grinding your teeth while waiting for the elevator in the office, or parked at a red traffic light? Hypersensitive and prone to adrenaline-fuelled reactions in unwarranted situations? Or maybe you’ve skipped one two many workouts, or one too many early bedtimes, because of work pressures and deadlines? Chances are, it’s impacting your resilience.

TRI compartmentalises elements of resilience into the following four categories:

  • Bounce
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Connection

You’ll have to subscribe to one of their programs for a full explanation of each; but suffice to say that building resilience will allow you to deal with life’s little challenges, and maintain that state of “flow” (which mindfulness mogul Tim Ferriss defines as your “optimal level of consciousness”).

How you can foster it:

Workplace resilience training is (almost) immeasurably productive. Our session with The Resilience Institute was hosted by Madeleine Shaw (whose top tier legal career ended when, as a participant in a TRI workshop, she realised she was infinitely more passionate about teaching and encouraging resilience amongst professionals). Madeline had her work cut out for her.

We’re a diverse bunch here at Morgan McKinley, and it’s difficult to find one training approach which suits us all. Some of us have made our way through the catalogue of “self-help” books and own a premium upgrade of the Headspace App... others are still vehemently sceptical of psychology, meditation, and any of that “woo-woo” nonsense - so we all came in with various levels of receptibility to Resilience training. 

But the room was very quickly engaged. For starters - resilience principles in general, and the TRI program in particular, are empirical and founded in hard scientific evidence.

It’s becoming more and more fashionable to practice mindfulness, resilience and meditation techniques in real life. Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Weiner, Bill Gates… They’ve all been doing it for years. But to go from zero to zen in just one presentation, is perhaps a bit of a stretch.

Benefits of resilience training in your workplace

What’s great about decent resilience training (like the program TRI offers) is that it focuses on small, achievable tasks that can be incorporated into everyday life. Starting with a dissection of our personalised diagnostic report, we quickly identified areas to target and build upon in accordance with Madeline’s ingenious suggestions.

Lacking in the “energised body” category? Set concrete exercise or sleep targets for the following week (you all know how this works, “take the stairs...”). If “confusion” is more of a weak point, try some simple mindfulness practices that don’t require yogi-like concentration.

The statistics don’t lie. 75% of Australian employees agree that their workplace should provide mental health support, and 81% of leaders indicate that their business has some such support structure in place; but up to 35% of employees don’t have access to these resources - or don’t know they do.

Workplace stress and “presenteeism” is a huge task. Taking the first step towards resilience is not. 

Key takeaways

Meditation doesn’t just mean sitting, silently contemplating existential questions, for hours on end. Focusing on breathing techniques during a long swim or run - that’s a form of meditation. Counting the steps on the way home from the train station, that’s meditation.

Likewise, multi-tasking and spreading attention across a variety of sources is detrimental to overall focus. If we want to get in “flow”, we need time out. Leave your phone in the office, and walk around the block. Avoid screens of any kind in the hour before bed. Practice active listening on friends and co-workers - you’ll be surprised how much more engaging people find you!

I’ll leave you with a gem of wisdom, from the man whose very existence is synonymous with the concept of resilience:

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." 
- Nelson Mandela

For information on resilience training and how it could benefit your workplace, get in touch with Madeleine Shaw or another member of staff at TRI. With any other questions about your business, recruitment, or fostering an engaged workplace; reach out to a representative from Morgan McKinley

 

Ruby Yeats's picture
Senior Consultant | Strategy
ryeats@morganmckinley.com.au