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  • Writer's pictureFelicity Baker

Resilient Organisation: Resilience for Health

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

With many people now returning to work and concerns about a second wave of Coronavirus on the rise, the role of resilience in health and wellbeing highlights the urgent need for organisations to prioritise stress reduction support for staff alongside wider health and safety measures.

It’s well known that chronic stress can have a serious negative impact on our physical health. High blood pressure, heart disease and stomach ulcers have been widely recognised as a consequence of long-term stress. But did you know that stress also makes us more susceptible to everyday common illnesses, such as colds and the flu?

Indeed, research has demonstrated that prolonged stress, and the negative emotions that accompany it, increase our likelihood of succumbing to a range of infectious diseases, including respiratory illnesses.

Stress and infectious disease

Research has shown that people who report higher levels of stress and associated negative emotions are at increased risk of contracting respiratory viruses and other infectious diseases. Exposure to stressors can also prolong illness episodes. Conversely, people who report low levels of stress and higher levels of positive emotion are at reduced risk.

“The immune system’s ability to regulate inflammation predicts who will develop a cold, but more importantly it provides an explanation of how stress can promote disease,” argues study researcher Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University. “When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control, and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease. Because inflammation plays a role in many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this model suggests why stress impacts them as well.”

With the many challenges and pressures resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic, it is already clear that, now more than ever, workers are highly susceptible to stress. Evidence highlighting this additional vulnerability to infectious disease creates a further major risk to both individuals and organisations.

How can resilience support benefit workplace health and wellbeing?

Resilience training for staff helps individuals to develop their own mental health toolkit to bounce back from periods of stress faster, reducing overall stress levels within the workforce.

Although stress can affect us in many ways, we all have the capacity to learn to be more resilient. Resilience training programs and workplace wellbeing workshops teach people how to feel good, develop a growth mindset and draw on the power of positivity to improve wellbeing.

Here are five top tips which, included in any wellbeing strategy, will enhance staff health and wellbeing at work.

  1. Take the temperature of staff health and wellbeing at work by conducting a staff wellbeing survey. This might include a survey of the whole staff group as well as 1-1 wellbeing assessments with managers.

  2. Follow up your survey with a wellbeing plan, including a mental health toolkit with wellbeing tips and resilience training materials to meet the mental health needs identified in the survey or though the 1-1 meetings with managers.

  3. Consider providing resilience leadership training – in any organisation, leaders are central to building mental health and wellbeing across the whole workforce.

  4. Ensure staff are equipped to manage the challenges of work in the context of the ‘new normal’ – provide resilience training workshops or resilience training online to facilitate staff to achieve their personal best and to thrive through the demands and pressures they are facing.

  5. Provide learning opportunities for staff to build their skills through positive psychology coaching with psychology experts.

Supporting staff to develop a positive mindset and experience greater workplace wellbeing will bring benefits to both individual and organisational health. Contact us for more information.

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