On a recent rainy November lunchtime in London, we ran a webinar for HR, L&D and Talent professionals across the EMEA region to explore the thorny issue of resilience. It’s hardly a topic that is struggling to get airtime across much of the world, yet current approaches do not seem to be working.
According to recent analysis, depression is up by 58%, anxiety by 74% and stress by 28%. We wanted to dig a bit deeper into the reasons for such struggles, and talk to our audience about what we believe they can do to make a have a positive impact on how their people and ultimately their own organisations respond to stress.
AchieveForum’s EMEA Managing Director, Frank Dulson, and Client Director, Hanna Jacobsson, began by taking a step back to get perspective on the world in which we are all working, as this is a key driver of the stress we are under.
”We’re not just dealing with episodic change anymore. Change is like the ocean – it surrounds us, we’re living in it all the time, and it’s exhausting!” This is how an AchieveForum client recently described the workplace (read the full blog: Digital Age Leaders: Saving the World from Workplace Dystopia?).
When we put the question to our webinar participants, ‘Which of the following are you hearing from your employees?’, the responses indicated that our frazzled client is not alone. A huge 49% of respondents said they agreed with the statement that their employees are ‘exhausted from all the change they are expected to deal with’ while 21% of listeners agreed that their employees complain about a lack of clarity from their managers. 17% know that their people are struggling to get their teams to innovate fast enough.
Workplace stress is costing us. Fear, fatigue,
discrimination are constant complaints in the workplace – at all seniority levels. Why is this happening? The world is more demanding. It’s fast, uncertainty hits us every day, and the type of work we do is changing (see The Rise of Knowledge Workers). We are often merely surviving and not reaching our full potential.
From ‘helping employees cope’ to ‘building team resilience’ – through building trust
When we asked our webinar audience which of a series of statements resonated with them, the responses matched our own research of more than 400 L&D and leaders. 39% said they related to the need to move from ‘coping’ to ‘building resilience’. This was the most common answer in our research too. Following closely behind, 36% of our audience on the day stated that the idea of ‘building trust’ rather than ‘ building alignment’ resonated with them and their people. This is coming up again and again as we conduct research with our clients into what factors enable individuals, teams and organisations to succeed.
A solid foundation of a climate of trust is so important when building a resilient workforce. Trust needs to be authentic – we all need to show vulnerabilities. You may be interested to see our CEO, Scott Bohannon talking about trust and one of leadership development experts, Vicki Townsley, describing it as ‘The Elephant in the Boardroom‘.
Traditional wellbeing solutions have reached their limits
Although we know that wellbeing at work initiatives are important – and when done well can make a huge difference to how well supported your employees feel, we know that more needs to be done to address the underlying cause of stress. What if we were to focus less on the symptom and more on the cause?
Frank and Hanna took our audience through 3 pillars that we believe are essential to building a truly resilient workforce.
Tip 1: Adopt a team-centric approach – shift the locus of responsibility from HR/centre/manager to the team.
Tip 2: Dynamically establish clarity – Match expectation setting with the pace of change
Tip 3: Leverage stressors to mitigate their causes and increase organisational learning – just like our bodies do following a vaccination
Building resilience has the power to transform the stress of working and leading in today’s turbulent times into opportunities to learn, adapt and thrive.
Does this topic resonate for you and your teams?
In light of all our research, client interviews, and extensive work in helping leaders at all levels be more successful, we have devised a ‘Leading for Resilience‘ learning journey – ready to be rolled out over several months across your organisation. We would love to talk to you in more details about our solution; and more generally how we can support your people and drive success through a resilient workforce.
See the recorded webinar: Building Resilience: How to Thrive in Turbulent Times