Consider the current work environment: Industries are competitive and volatile, jobs are demanding and less secure, and technology has blurred any separation between "work" and "life."
This complex mix produces stress, which while an inextricable part of work life, may be the main reason why your employees aren’t fully engaged. It’s hard to be focused and committed at work – or anywhere else—when you’re feeling less than positive, uncomfortable in your environment and overwhelmed.
Employees identify stress as the number one well-being issue in their lives; employers are not unsympathetic. Change and uncertainty are a given, but helping employees work in the current environment is a priority for many. In addition to the benefits of a positive and productive workplace culture, there is a business case to be made: Stress and its fallout are leading causes of absenteeism, turnover and rising health care costs. In fact, health care expenditures are 50 percent greater for organizations in which stress levels are chronically high.
At WebMD Health Services, our Stress-less Challenge was among the most popular offerings, providing tools and solutions to help minimize stress on a daily basis. Also, since stress often aggravates health problems and leads to unhealthy behaviors, we incorporated stress management into our digital and telephonic health and well-being coaching for smoking cessation, weight management and other health concerns.
While these techniques made a difference in employees’ lives, we realized that more was needed to deal a sustainable blow to stress and its impact. We found an answer in Resiliency Training – a solution that went beyond helping employees cope to ensuring that they had the tools and insights they needed to thrive in the face of unrelenting change, shifting work demands, and adversity.
Training for resiliency
Just like a muscle that gets stronger when exercised regularly, resilience can be cultivated, conditioned and refined. The best resiliency training programs alter not only how workers manage stress but how they perceive it. Yes, physical tools like breathing are instrumental to the process. However, employees are also taught to better regulate their emotions and to learn how to control unhelpful impulses, cultivate realistic optimism and empathy and ask for help.
The results show that a resilient employees are more likely to practice healthier behaviors and also be far more positive than those who aren’t. They are also more likely to contribute to an improved workplace culture.
Employees who successfully undergo resilience training are four times more likely to be satisfied in their jobs and half as likely to quit. Our program insights suggest that employees are nearly 50 percent less likely to miss a day of work per month and 60% less likely to suffer burnout.
How to build an effective resiliency platform
To maximize resiliency training, well-being plans should seamlessly integrate customized features that meet employees’ individualized needs. First, a profiling tool should measure workers’ strengths and weaknesses on established “resiliency factors,” including abilities to:
Control feelings of anger and frustration
Stay focused and problem solve under duress
Be self-confident, optimistic and empathetic when problems arise
Studies show that elevated scores on these factors are directly correlated with increased productivity, healthier lifestyle behaviors and lower rates of stress-induced physical symptoms. So, well-being initiatives should aim at raising individual scores on as many of these factors as possible.
In our experience, the best resiliency platforms combine a mobile interface with personalized coaching. The dual approach ensures that plans are scalable, sustainable and quantifiable, and yet maintain an all-important human touch. It also provides flexibility and immediacy so that employees can apply techniques, test their progress and garner hands-on support during actual stress-producing events.
By implementing these and other resiliency-focused strategies, companies can build stronger, more versatile workforces that reduce health care costs and convert benefits programs from an expense to a strategic advantage. Much more than a means to cope, resiliency training helps employees and companies thrive.