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Five ways to build resilience

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While we can’t always avoid the challenges and setbacks we inevitably face in life and in business, we can take steps to strengthen our resilience to be better prepared for when the road gets bumpy. With millions of working days (and pounds!) lost to employers every year due to illness and injury, it pays, as a line manager or business leader, to do what you can to ensure that you and your people are mentally and physically well.

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Stepping back, according to our own research at AXA PPP healthcare, motivation (56%), responding to change (51%) and workplace performance (50%) are the three things people think are most likely to be adversely affected by having low levels of resilience.

At the same time, nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents said they wanted to be more resilient (defined as the ability to bounce back from setbacks and to keep going in the face of tough demands and difficult circumstances), chiefly because they think it would help in their day to day life and relationships (29%) and at work (20%) and because they fear for the future (20%).

Bolstering your resilience is a smart move. It can give you an inner strength and confidence to deal successfully with the constant challenges and changes of modern working life. Better still, it’s not rocket science and the behaviours and ‘can do’ attitude that are needed are well understood and, for those who are willing to make the effort, quite readily achievable. It just takes time and practice – for example, taking time to reflect and focus on your priorities in your home and working life can help to ensure a satisfactory work-life balance and, in turn, equip you with a powerful psychological reservoir you can draw upon to enable you to bend rather than break when confronted by adversity.

You can increase your own resilience by introducing some subtle changes to the way that you think, feel and behave. And, as a business leader, encouraging and supporting your team to do likewise can go a long way to building a stronger business.

Five point plan to boost resilience:

  1. Work on your emotional intelligence – being able to identify and manage your own (and colleagues’) emotions can help you to build a well-functioning team. Well-honed interpersonal skills are beneficial for seeing things more objectively and understanding and respecting different views. In addition, recognising how you deal with pressure – and being open and talking about it – can help you prepare for stressful situations more effectively.
  2. Stay energised – a physically or mentally demanding lifestyle can leave you feeling drained, especially if you don’t counter-balance it by getting sufficient, good quality sleep. A good night’s sleep often requires daytime investment, however, so try taking a lunch break away from your workplace, take a short brisk walk in daylight hours, stay hydrated and curb caffeine intake in the afternoon and evening to help improve your levels of alertness during the day and quality of sleep when the day is done. Modelling this approach to your employees and enabling more positive behaviours will help boost their engagement and motivation and create a positive, supportive team environment – factors that can help your business to thrive.
  3. Nurture relationships – having a solid support network of family, friends, colleagues and “fellow travellers” – those in business or in your life upon whom you can call – can go a long way when you’re facing awkward or difficult situations. And, more broadly, team-based socialising can help to build a collaborative, supportive business culture that can give you and your employees confidence to embrace change.
  4. Keep your perspective – when your attitude towards something is balanced and rational it can support your resilience as it helps you to have a clear view and see the bigger picture. Stepping back – both mentally and physically – from a challenging situation can help you to identify and focus on what you have control over so you can set realistic goals rather than focus on things you can’t influence. As a part of maintaining a healthy perspective, manage your work and home boundaries by, for example, leaving emails alone outside of working hours – and encouraging your team to do the same.
  5. Prioritise and play to your strengths – having a clear sense of purpose for yourself and for your business is key to developing and maintaining a positive outlook. This includes understanding what matters to you most. Reflect on success and capitalise on it by asking if there are valuable insights when it comes to playing to your own – or your employees’ – strengths and how you might develop further.
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