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Fostering resilience in team members

06 December 2017

Dr Monique Crane is a lecturer and researcher at Macquarie University in Organisational Psychology. She examines “how organisations are able to foster psychological resilience in their employees”.

Resilience, she believes, can be fostered through leadership, job characteristics or training programs. The “effectiveness of resilience training programs and the ability of workplace characteristics to develop or erode the psychological resilience of their personnel” is what interests Monique.

In her new book Managing For Resilience: A Practical Guide for Employee Wellbeing and Organizational Performance (Routledge), Monique notes that “in an era of longer hours and shorter contracts, of tighter margins and frequent organisational change, stress can undermine both the mental health and performance of employees. A culture of resilience in the workplace, however, offers the potential to support psychological wellbeing and improve the performance of both people and organisations.” Her book aims to guide managers and leaders in the process.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report notes that the costs associated with mental health issues in the workplace is around $10.9 billion a year in lost productivity. Recent research conducted by Instinct and Reason, which surveyed employees across Australia on behalf of beyondblue as part of the Heads Up Initiative, found that nearly three-quarters of Australian employees say a mentally healthy workplace is important when looking for a job in the future.

According to Monique 80 percent of us are resilient – in the event of trauma or stress we experience a short term deficit in functioning and return fairly quickly to “normal”. However, she wants managers to notice the degree to which their team members exhibit resilient behaviour and to ask themselves, are too many members of the team not bouncing back? If too many people are not bouncing back then the tasks and/or amount of work are probably over-whelming. If this is the case, then good management practice would require changes be made to accommodate the issues, otherwise, when it comes to productivity, there will be a noticeable drop.

One of her important recommendations is about educating employees on getting “good rest and recovery”.

The low level stress many of us can feel at work inhibits our ability to bounce back - to be resilient. Monique believes it is important to recover from this stress every day, which is where what we do with our evenings and weekends plays a significant role.

For example, she says, don’t go home after a big day at work and do your tax. Instead, she recommends, do something you enjoy and find absorbing. (For many parents, spending time with the kids is a positive break.)

Oddly enough, our partners, she says, may be a negative influence on resting and recovery.

Why?

Because we enable one another to re-engage in the work dialogue and the stress reappears.

Holidays are great but, Monique warns, about three weeks after your holidays are over your stress levels will have returned, which is why learning how to turn off on a daily basis is so important.

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