If the thought of being asked to do more resilience training makes you want to vomit, I hear you.
If you are a healthcare or front-line worker, you know you’ve already got your resilience stripes three times over.
After all, back when you made THAT decision to choose a career path that would take you to a life of service, you knew that choice would be hard, require long hours of study and work, making difficult and sometimes heartbreaking decisions and constantly working to help in alleviating the pain and struggles of others.
That decision came with the commitment, tenacity, and deep desire to bring about positive change.
The reality is that for all of us, life has become busier, more challenging, and far more complex.
What you’re being asked to deal with every day is increasingly complicated and frequently messy.
But you keep going because it’s what you do, what you’re good at and you love your work.
But even the best of us can get ground down by the daily grind of too much, and too many hours fighting to get what you know is essential for you to do your work well.
So, when you’re told:
“Suck it up Princess, it’s like this for all of us.”
“We know you’re tired and need to take time off. But we’re short staffed, so I’m sorry, you can’t take your leave at this time.”
“If you can’t handle the heat, move to another kitchen!”
You’re being pushed beyond your physiological and psychological limits as a human.
You’ve dug down deep into your resilience pockets.
You’re trying your best to not let the system get you down.
But it’s hard when it all feels endless, there’s no end in sight, just more “blah, blah, blah” from those who have no idea of what it’s like to be:
- Burning out
- Struggling with mental health challenges
- Or stressed to the point you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure and your partner is worried you’re at risk of having a heart attack.
Workplace health and wellbeing is everyone’s business.
What’s needed includes:
1. Permission for every employee to develop their own resilience practice. Those healthy lifestyle choices that serve to alleviate stress. Like having 20 minutes for a daily walk in the park. Or taking a mental health day, without the guilt or disguising it as something else. Or taking a lunch break away from your desk.
This is about leaders encouraging better work practices and walking their talk. Enabling people to get home on time more often. Providing a safe space for everyone to share how things really are without fear of judgement or putting your career progression at risk.
By all means, include yoga or meditation classes, if that’s what people want.
But that’s not going to fix unreasonable work demands or intolerable workloads.
2. Evaluation of current organisational health and wellbeing and then taking action to prioritise the strategies needed to redress any inbalance of resources and demands being put on people.
This includes education to build understanding and awareness of what we mean by burnout, psychological safety and mental wellbeing.
And includes community building, providing adequate support and resources, and strengthening social ties.
Australia currently has the highest reported rate of burnout in the world. 68% compared to the global average of 48%
Whichever way you look at this, this is insane.
We have amazing digital technologies, are increasingly integrating AI into our life and work and yet we are getting sicker, sadder, and so darn exhausted with it all.
We have the scientific evidence of what is necessary to keep ourselves well and mitigate the effect of chronic stress on our bodies and minds.
What needs to happen?
Scrap the resilience training.
You don’t need a stronger canary in the coal mine to fix a toxic coal mine.
It’s not the canary’s fault the toxicity exists.
You are far more resilient than you give yourself credit for.
Indeed, the research suggests we’ve got our response to trauma wrong. George Bonnano author of The End of Trauma has found in his review of the literature that when facing adversity or challenge, the vast majority of us, two-thirds, do just fine.
He defines resilience as a stable trajectory of healthy functioning after a highly adverse event.
For sure, the initial response can be hard to deal with.
What do you do when you’ve just lost a close family member in a car accident?
Or your partner has just shared they’ve been diagnosed with inoperable cancer?
Or you’ve found yourself in a dangerous place, where your very life is under threat?
What happens after the initial shock, is we pick ourselves up and do what we believe is necessary to get through this event.
For some, this may require intervention from trained therapists. For others, they may be left with permanent scars.
But the message is. We and that includes YOU, are resilient enough.
What counts is ensuring the environment you’re operating in, is supportive.
This is about strengthening the collective voice.
Where everyone doesn’t just get a seat at the table but is invited to speak and feel heard.
Where the decision-makers listen and act on what is required to make the workplace safer for everyone.
It’s time to stop trying to fix current workplace maladies with single solutions.
Because there is no single solution to a highly complex and interrelated variety of challenges that are unique to each workplace.
Creating and implementing a workplace health and wellbeing program must address and be responsive to the changing needs of a rapidly evolving workplace environment that aims to:
- Keep everyone safe at work
- Increase engagement and the motivation to do our work
- Boost efficiencies, positive outcomes, and profitability
- Create an attractive place to work that rewards creativity, innovation, inclusion, and equity.
More resilience training?
Nah. Let’s build great places to work, that seek to optimise human performance with care and compassion.
What does resilience look like in your place of work?
Dr Jenny Brockis is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker, trainer, and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is available for purchase.
If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.