8th October 2020

How to help employees build emotional resilience

20th February, 2019

Ruth Kudzi

Tenacity and resilience are words that I used to put on my CV to describe how I worked. Goal focused and ambitious they meant I didn’t give up whatever I was feeling and however low my emotional resources were.

Coming close to physical and emotional burnout when I was pregnant with my second daughter meant I took a step back and started to explore how I could be resilient as well as taking care of myself. This gave me a new perspective on how I could support my team.

This is when I realised, old school resilience and pushing through no matter what can only work in the short term. It also helped me to recognise red flags and warning signs in others.

Emotional resilience is the key

Pushing through at all costs no longer interests me AND I am sure it is why many people reach burnout.

The old adage that we need to work hard to get results is becoming less and less valid. There is growing support for the idea that by reducing our working hours we will get more done.

Look at how your business operates and how your employees work, are there people who are spending all their time at work? Are you able to provide different ways of working which encourage people to have balance?

Four years ago, I was working every night and sometimes answering emails at 1 or 2am. The thing was I wasn’t the only one – we were emailing each other and we were in charge! What kind of example were we giving?

What can you do?

Emotional resilience puts your employees’ wellbeing at the centre of everything. Thousands of memes and quotes surely can’t be wrong! You can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care may sound self-indulgent but encouraging your staff to focus on the simple things first can have a huge impact on their wellbeing and performance.

The list of activities is one we know well: sleep, exercise, diet, relationships. All of those things that make us feel good. If you want your teams to be resilient longer term, you need to do what you can to help them invest in all of these every day. This could include allowing longer breaks so they can go to gym classes or exercise or providing facilities on site. Programs and initiatives that focus on physical wellbeing will help your employees build their emotional resilience.

Identifying the warning lights and red flags

Helping your employees to identify their own red flags and working with your senior leaders to identify what is going on with your teams can be hugely beneficial. When I managed large teams, I used to ask about working hours and would help them develop strategies which made sure their workload would be reduced.

Take a step back every week and look at the signs – are there team members who look tired? Who are making decisions that are out of character? Are they having more days off than normal?

By having an open dialogue within the workplace, you can identify ways to improve situations before they get out of hand and can start to have open conversations about resilience and wellbeing.

Understanding the opportunity cost

When you decide to get things done at all costs you are fooling yourself, there is ALWAYS a cost. Think about the culture that you lead – are you encouraging others to work whatever the costs? Or are you demonstrating the values that you want others to model with a focus on employee wellbeing as well as performance?

Consider how decisions and actions will impact other parts of your employees’ lives.

Organisations that fail to focus on employee wellbeing and emotional resilience will start to have difficulties with recruitment and staff retention as well as performance and productivity. Building a workforce where asking for help is part of the cultural process and there is emotional support for all creates better outcomes.

Consider how you can design these programs in your organisation and use normal processes such as line management meetings and training to focus on building the emotional resilience within the organisation. 

Ruth Kudzi

Ruth Kudzi is a Qualified Success Coach for start-up and new entrepreneurial women. Ruth has a PGCERT in Coaching, MA in Psychology & BA in Management & Psychology. She has numerous additional coaching qualifications and is an ICF member. She is a blogger, speaker, teacher and coach who is passionate about empowering women to start their own businesses and develop their confidence.

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