Three Ways Employers Can Build a Culture of Resiliency in the Workplace and Beyond

May 4, 2021

As we passed the one-year mark of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many reflected on the year that was—or perhaps wasn’t. For a vast number of folks, priorities have shifted from simply surviving to remaining strong in the face of what has passed and what is to come.

Chances are you may have even seen more formalized talk of this in the use of the term “resiliency.” But what is resiliency and how can you, as an employer, help build a culture around it within your organization?

The American Psychology Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health conditions, or workplace and financial stressors.

Likely not surprising, a 2020 study conducted by Cigna found resilience and the ability to recover quickly from challenges is at risk for the majority of Americans. While everyone is going to approach resiliency differently, as an employer, you can help build a culture of resiliency in the workplace in three key ways.

Create a strategy and review current policies so they align and meet the needs of your employees and your organization.

The best way to start building a culture of resiliency is to start with the easy stuff. No emails on evenings or weekends and allowing for reasonably flexible scheduling go a long way for employees juggling various aspects of their lives. Also, consider the addition of a well-being flex day and/or one paid time off (PTO) bank—versus separating sick and vacation days—to encourage employees to take time off when they need it.

Self-care is important in the workplace, too. Promoting daily work breaks and encouraging employees to speak up when in need is vital. Implementing a stigma-free campaign about mental health awareness can help with this as well. The Center for Workplace Mental Health and Makeitok.org are great resources to help get the conversation started.

Perhaps most critically, though, is to just listen. Make sure your employees are able to stay connected with you and one another. Even in one-on-one meetings, managers and leaders should check in with their employees to see how they’re doing. Beyond that, be sure to provide clear, safe channels for feedback. Remember: they’re not just your employees, but people with rich, complex lives of their own.

Provide ongoing education for employees.

Resiliency, by its nature, is something built over time. As an employer, you can help your employees by providing them with the resources they need to help understand their specific situations. Providing webinars and training opportunities on a variety of mental health-related topics is a great way to engage your employees and help build resilience. Consider also providing these resources to family members as well.

It is also helpful to have leaders trained in Mental Health First Aid who can learn the signs and symptoms of someone that might be experiencing a mental health challenge. These people can be present and hopefully support others in times of potentially great need.

Interested in learning more out Mental Health First Aid? Reach out to your local MMA team today.

Enhance employee benefits that support a culture of resilience and are all-inclusive.

The most direct way to help build a culture of resilience is to ensure your employee benefits offerings reflect that desire to do so. Offering benefits that support an employee’s mental health and regularly communicating about them can have major impact on an employee’s resiliency. This could be anything from offering life-coaching resources to a more robust employee assistance program (EAP).

Before even that, consider adding a dedicated wellness room where employees take some time for themselves during the workday if they need to step away for a few minutes. Official employee resource groups also to help individuals connect with others who share experiences and common goals.

Finally, developing a diversity and inclusion strategy is critical to ensuring no employee is left out and feels welcome in the workplace—something that can make all the difference when building a culture of resiliency.

Want to know more about building resiliency? Check out these resources:

Our Workforce Resiliency Hub has a plethora of resources to help build workforce resiliency.

Be sure to also download our free Mental Health Toolkit today.

The Center for Workplace Mental Health offers a deeper dive into the topic of resilience, as well as a host of other related resources.

The Big Know is a free resource employers can provide that has a wide variety of courses that can help build long-term resiliency.