Improving employee resilience requires a strategic and sustained campaign rooted in the collective wellbeing needs of the workforce, says Charles Alberts, Senior Consultant at Aon Employee Benefits.
Indeed, assessing the wellbeing and resilience of the workforce is an essential starting point, not least because it provides organisations with key data against which to measure progress. This is often best done through an Online Health Risk assessment, a series of questions which each employee answers about their health, lifestyle and wellbeing. Online Health Risk assessments all appear the same, but to get the most appropriate output it is important to dig a bit deeper, take a look at the exact questions it asks, and the type of reporting you will receive from the provider.
Of course it’s not just about personal resilience, but organisational culture, too. “If an employee gets to work and there’s an environment that is trusting, one in which they can speak their mind, one where they’re supported and where they feel empowered in the work that they do, that environment becomes key to their resilience in the workplace,” says Alberts.
Boosting employee resilience therefore requires a two-pronged approach: educating individuals and assessing, as objectively as possible, the impact of your work environment on employee resilience.
“The impact of work on resilience is one of the reasons why we believe an employee resilience strategy needs to start from the top down,” Alberts continues. “There is a logic in starting with your Directors / Partners as key people in the organisation; but if the workshops are successful they will first-hand see the benefits of rolling the programme out more widely. A programme on this scale will require both financial and resource investment, and we believe the best way to obtain buy-in is to start at the top.”
To minimise scepticism, resilience initiatives are best delivered as part of the organisation’s wider health and wellbeing programme. This will illustrate that there is a joined-up logic in what you are doing, and can help to be a platform for continually reinforcing the desired messages through a ‘drip effect’.
Initial resilience workshops, regular engaging and relevant communications will help to keep the lessons at the forefront of employees’ minds and remind staff of the support that is available such as the Employee Assistance Programme, Private Medical Insurance, Occupational Health and so-on. Delivering resilience as part of the wellbeing programme gives you a logical point each year at which to use your Online Health Risk Assessment to review progress.
On an on-going basis, a series of targeted workshops with line management is recommended to help make resilience a key part of the businesses’ core culture. It is often admitted that there is a missed opportunity if line managers’ softer people skills are not acknowledged.
Aon’s Charles Alberts advises:
- Speak with your Employee Benefits Consultant about the various available resources. As costs will be involved, engage them to help you compare the options and investment required. Obtain references from companies who have used the shortlisted providers.
- Speak with HR colleagues to understand some of the performance issues that crop up.
- Understand managers’ view of resilience and the specific issues they require more support on.
- Get the Board buy in.
- Join an industry group such as the City Mental Health Alliance, or Business In The Community.
- Set out clear S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you work out what you would like to achieve and continually review these.
Alberts adds: “It should be acknowledged that resilience is such an individual character trait and one that is influenced by many factors both personal (upbringing, life experiences, social circles, personality) and work (line management, team environment, role empowerment and so on). You can’t change people’s background or personalities, and that is not the intent. Huge personal and organisational value can be added by growing your talent and giving them the right tools and environment to quickly bounce back in difficult times.”