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February 23, 2022

Creating employee resiliency: Beyond stress management

Complete wellness and a supportive culture improves resiliency… and may improve your business

Everyone talks about stress, especially since the pandemic hit. There’s no doubt that managing stress is vitally important for your employees to stay physically and emotionally well. But simply dealing with stress isn’t the whole story.

What you should be addressing is how to help employees become resilient. (And build your own resiliency while you’re at it.)

Is this the same as managing stress? Not really. Stress management is a reaction to problems, while resiliency is preparing employees to have the ability to deal with whatever crisis is around the corner.

The American Psychological 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 problems, or workplace and financial stressors.” But as much as resilience is about the ability to recover from difficult experiences, it’s also about an individual’s personal growth and empowerment.

Adversity will be present in everyone’s life to varying degrees. It’s how we deal with it that defines us. However, many of us lack the skills that allow us to effectively move through a bad situation and come out the other end alive and well…or even stronger and better than before.

Agility is a term often used in discussing resilience. Much like an athlete whose agility lets them escape on-rushing linemen or slice their way through defenders and reach the basket, personal agility helps employees pivot. So, rather than obsessing over a problem, they innovate to solve it.

The role of complete well-being

Resiliency and stress management both begin at the same place: employee well-being. Marsh McLennan Agency always recommends taking a holistic approach to well-being to ensure each employee has the opportunity to enjoy complete well-being. That includes:

Physical well-being

This is what most people assume well-being is all about. Employees need to care for their bodies through proper nutrition, movement or exercise and regular visits to the doctor.

Financial well-being

This concerns creating financial security which is a key method to reducing stress. When employees aren’t focusing on their financial problems, they can concentrate more on work and family.

Social well-being

“Social” doesn’t mean connecting only on Facebook. It’s about truly feeling connected to others. This is sustained by building a healthy, diverse, supportive community within the organization.

Mental well-being

If you’re able to cope with the challenges of life — family, work, personal, financial — you tend to be physically healthier and generally happier and more engaged. You can help create and sustain mental health by building an environment that’s free from any stigma around behavioral health concerns.

Approaching employee well-being from this broader perspective can help you create a culture that focuses on positivity. We’re not talking about what’s known as “toxic positivity” where you ignore the problems and only talk about how wonderful everything seems to be. But “leaning into the positive” helps engage employees and sets the stage for productive results.

What kind of impact can resilience have on your organization?

Resilience and learning to be more agile have been shown to create engagement and improve employee retention. Becoming more resilient and agile puts the employee in the driver's seat and often correlates with better margins, growth rates and overall performance.

Research indicates that helping employees become more resilient and more agile leads to improved engagement. That can result in increases in revenue and reductions in costs.

According to a study published in Leadership Institute Faculty Publications, businesses that invest in engagement have advantages over ones that don’t:

  • 2.1 times average revenue
  • 4.2 times average profit
  • 2.8 times profit per employee
  • Regularly outperform the S&P 500 & NASDAQ

A study in Human Resource Management found that engaged employees are 4 times more likely to stay, 16 times more likely to refer someone to the company and more than 3 times more likely to feel empowered to solve a customer’s problem.

The agile way to help create agility, well-being and resilience.

To help organizations create a whole person well-being strategy, Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) helps you identify organizational priorities, assess needs and determine the appropriate way to measure. You can start this process yourself by asking three fundamental questions:

Why should you implement a well-being strategy?
We’ve already shown you some statistics that demonstrate why well-being is not only good to do but smart to do. Some other business drivers could include:

  • Cost control 
  • Quality and customer satisfaction 
  • Generate revenue and grow business 
  • Efficiency in operations 
  • Risk management 
  • Employee engagement and retention 

What opportunities exist within your organization?
Use available data to identify areas of focus. Consider reviewing the following:

  • Company policies
  • Organizational stressors
  • Human resources information system (HRIS) reports
  • Employee engagement
  • Healthcare claims, risk scores and health screenings
  • Workers’ comp and safety reports
  • Workplace environmental assessment results

How will health and well-being be improved?

Determine the tactics (programs, resources, and tools) you’ll use to address well-being. For example, you could: 

  • Create a supportive, caring workplace culture where employees can thrive (mentally, financially, socially, and physically)
  • Align policies and procedures with organizational needs
  • Develop a well-being mission statement with measurable objective
  • Develop a well-being communication strategy
  • Leverage free, local, and national resources

The wellness consultants at MMA can help you find best practice solutions which may include development of a business case for investing in employee well-being; assistance with development of strategic well-being plans; robust communication strategy support; turn-key tools and programs; review of third-party vendor solutions; monitoring and tracking program progress; and data analysis and strategic implementation.

To learn more or find out about the resources we can provide, contact your local MMA Team.