Corporate trends come and go in less time than it takes to complete a motivational fire walk. Chances are you will have experienced any number of ill-advised attempts to mould you and your workmates into a close-knit team of self-actualized, paradigm-shifting, go-getters. Maybe that 360-degree feedback session ended with a staff mutiny. Perhaps you are still suffering night terrors following a traumatic team-building paintball experience. Or possibly you just tripped over a low-lying sausage dog on Bring Your Pet to Work Day.
Thankfully something a whole lot more useful could be on the way. Right now, HR people the world over are investigating the best ways to build psychological resilience. There are many good reasons why they are doing so.
1. This elephant is massive
Mental health has been the elephant in the office for far too long. While around half of all workers will experience a mental health condition at some point in their life, this giant pachyderm of an issue has been willfully ignored and tip-toed around for decades. Most of us remain ill-equipped to deal with difficult thoughts, uncomfortable emotions or times of high stress. Resilience training takes a much-needed preventative approach, arming workers with a range of skills they can apply whenever the going gets tough.
2. Life problems don’t magically disappear between 9 and 5
As wonderful as human beings are, we are not emotionless, automated, productivity machines. Our lives are messy and we are simply not programmed to pack up our problems and leave them neatly by the door. Loved ones die, our relationships break down and occasionally we freak out when awaiting tests from the doctor. Any number of life events can make it impossible to maintain that carefully cultivated corporate smile and keep the mind 100 per cent on the job. Resilience training reaches beyond the workplace, teaching people skills which help them cope with all of life’s issues.
3. There aren’t many simple jobs anymore
Oh, for the days of your grandad! Just picture him there, sitting in his office, patiently waiting for his secretary to type a letter and the tea lady to trolley in a morning treat. Now look at how we have evolved… You may have just elbowed your way to a hot desk with twelve applications open on your laptop, fifty urgent emails in your inbox and a smartphone buzzing angrily in your pocket. Rapid technological innovation, coupled with a continuous drive for productivity and efficiency, has turned work into a complex, multi-tasking, stress-fest. To deal with it, we all need some seriously good resilience skills.
4. It can save a stupidly large stack of money
Corporations are generally quick to adopt anything which will save them a significant sum, ergo the phase-out of private offices, secretaries and tea ladies. With workplace mental issues now costing many billions of dollars each year, the corporate world is finally taking notice and taking action. Teaching employees resilience skills can deliver some very impressive returns, thanks to improvements in productivity and decreases in the costs associated with absenteeism, worker’s compensation and staff turnover.
5. Workers want kinder workplaces
We’ve kept pushing people harder, kept telling them to toughen up and kept feigning surprise when this results in mental health injuries. The “whip them harder” approach to people management has clearly had its day. The smartest employees are now jumping ship from uncaring stress-pits and seeking out workplaces where a more compassionate approach reigns. As well as investing in resilience training, the most successful workplaces will back it up with a range of policies which nurture good mental health and provide employees with far greater flexibility and balance.
Originally published at medium.com