Guest Blog by Amy Aggleton, Product Development Lead, Lane4
When the pressure is on at work, how do you cope? Do you get frustrated and bury your head in the sand? Or do you remain calm and collected?
Regardless of sector, experience, or role, we will all face challenges throughout our careers. This has always been a fact of life, but with Brexit looming, there is a sense that resilience is more important than ever. With the future of how UK businesses operate hanging in the balance, many will be concerned about job stability or the possibility of applying for work visas for non-UK residents. However, regardless of the challenges Brexit may bring, what is important is how we react to them, and the difference between thriving and burning out is resilience.
Why resilience will help us through Brexit
The one thing we know about Brexit is that nothing is certain. For the time being, we’re not sure what the final deal will look like or what the full implications of different scenarios will be. This ambiguity can have a knock-on effect in terms of employees’ stress and productivity levels.
Resilience is defined as the ability to survive and thrive under pressure and so is integral in helping employees to not just deal with the current uncertainty around Brexit, but act quickly and effectively when the situation does become clear. This capability to flex strategy to accommodate changing demands is what keeps organisations ahead of the game. Regardless of what the final deal will look like, once it is agreed, businesses will need to adapt fast.
Encouragingly, organisations have the ability (and, to an extent, a responsibility) to create a resilient workforce where every single employee is prepared for both current and future challenges. Many are simply struggling to unlock this ability.
So how do you create a resilient workforce?
When it comes to creating resilience, there are differences between doing this on a personal level versus on an organisation alone. Personal resilience, for example, can be supported by people making physical and psychological changes such as managing sleep and physical activity and developing emotional control. Where as organisational resilience involves proactively implementing resilient strategy, operations and thinking in the workplace, before the cost of not changing becomes too great.
The key thing to note however, is that in both cases, resilience is something that needs to be actively fostered before a ‘crisis’ ever occurs. Simple but effective ways in which managers can begin improving personal resilience amongst their team include:
Spotting the signs
Regularly check in with your direct team and invest in learning the signs that indicate when they are stressed or need help. Things to look out for could include: a colleague who is usually social but has started retreating into themselves, a sudden drop in work quality, or a lack of engagement and enthusiasm for things they would normally enjoy. Make a habit of asking your team how they are, not just how their work is, and listening hard to what they say and don’t say. A listening and supportive ear for 15 minutes can make all the difference.
Thinking about yourself as a role model
Are you taking care of yourself physically, managing any pressure you may be experiencing, and maintaining agood work-life balance? Looking after yourself is key to proactively building resilience. If you are a team leader, this is even more important, as you need to lead by example, and empower your team to do the same. Make sure you switch off when you are out of the office and don’t expect people to work out of hours unless it’s truly critical. Share your own experience of how you have managed difficult times and how you are coping with the current uncertainty.
Organisations are, encouragingly, waking up to the importance of developing their employee’s wellbeing. But beware actively informing employees on how they can develop their resilience. Make sure your employees and team are aware of the resources that are available to them, such as their Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), and any employee benefits that can support resilience, such as gym membership. Or, if these aren’t available, encourage people to build support networks and use each other as a source of support. Point people towards any available training on resilience and managing stress; if none is available, look online for free coursesor petition the organisation to invest in some.
The current uncertainty around Brexitis tying the hands of businesses in many areas, from recruitment to investment, but they can still be preparing for once, or if, the UK leaves the EU. Fostering resilience in the workforce is not something that depends on having clarity and certainty – it can be done at any time. The benefits of doing so won’t just be noticeable throughout Brexit, but for whatever challenges and opportunities the future might bring.