Personal Resiliency and Work

19th April 2021

What do you consider when you think of personal resiliency?  Does it bring out a recollection of a steely eyed women staring adversity down?  A forlorn victim of a natural disaster dishevelled but grateful to be alive?

Perhaps something a little closer to home like sitting down on the couch after, a long, and difficult day dealing with work, children, or family?

Dan VanderSluis (He/Him/His) is the Associate Vice-President of Human Resources at Vancouver Island University.  Dan is also one of our speakers at our upcoming Wellness in The Workplace online event.   We explored the idea of personal resiliency a little, and considered it from a wellness perspective.

Considering Personal Resiliency

Dan, how would you explain personal resiliency from a wellness perspective, and what are its benefits?

A common understanding of resiliency is that it is the ability to bounce back from negative experiences.    There is a significant interrelationship between one’s resiliency and individual wellness. Some considerations:

  • The complementary nature of resilience and well-being is a conceptual framework that can inform our approach to supporting wellness.
  • That lens or framework directs us to support individual and organizational resilience, particularly when relying on current research.
  • Individually, when we are equipped with strong resiliency we have the reserves and the toolkits to support overall wellness, particularly in challenging or negative circumstances.
  • Holistic wellness, or wellbeing, models embrace the concept that wellness has multi-dimensions.
  • Common dimensions are physical, spiritual, nutritional, intellectual, socio/interpersonal and psychological.
  • Programs, initiatives and efforts to support individual wellness/wellbeing on these dimensions will do well to take into consideration individuals’ circumstances, including varied resilience levels, that impact their ability to engage with those efforts.
  • Wellness efforts increase their effectiveness by paying attention to the interrelationship between resilience and wellness, informing the programs and approaches organizations implement to support their employees.

Workplace Resiliency

Work can be challenging, how can employers support worker resiliency?

There are a wide range of large and small steps employers can engage in to support worker resiliency.

  • Facilitating employees’ heightened sense of control has a direct impact on resilience and wellness.
  • During the pandemic, some employers have taken deliberate steps to increase employee autonomy, leading to a heightened sense of control over one’s work environment. For example:
    • Some employers have navigated extremely well the shift to remote work environments, placing increased trust in their employees to self-direct.
    • Another key manner that employers can support resiliency in  employee groups is through training and wellness learning opportunities.
  • Many employers have introduced a number of support elements to encourage resilience:
    • A stronger focus on mindfulness
    • Programs to build strong psychological foundations
    • Offered access to therapeutic approaches such as cognitive behaviours therapy and other forms of counselling.
  • A common concern from employees is an inability to maintain an effective work/life balance, which creates a lack of equilibrium thereby depleting one’s resilience.
  • A renewed focus on work/life balance can reset equilibrium for employees.
  • Finally, in helping professions such health care, HR, and social work, employers are directing efforts to counter burnout and vicarious trauma as a proactive means of supporting employee resilience.

 Final Thought

B.C. COVID-19 cases are higher than ever.  What would Dan suggest as one key focal point to help us stay resilient during this tumultuous pandemic?

Dan suggested we focus on the areas over which we have actually have control over.

“Focus on the control you have over your actions and interactions both at work and in your personal life. You can develop and control your own personal strategies for wellness.”

Something we’ve likely heard many times before.  Don’t worry about what you can’t control, worry about what you can control.  Definitely a technique that takes practice, but one that can reap rewards in the face of adversity as well.

Dan VanderSluis will be providing more insights into personal wellness at our wellness in the workplace event this Thursday April 22nd.  To book your tickets click here.

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