Stress in the Workplace:
How mental fitness & resilience skills can help
Absenteeism is on the up, and presenteeism is another concerning byproduct of stress and mental health related unwellness. Presenteeism is the all-too common occurrence of people being present at work but not productive.
Former chairman of the ACCC, Professor Allan Fels, said “Poor resilience is more significant for our economy than tax and micro-economic reforms.”
Not only is this problem reflected on a company’s bottom line, much worse is the personal cost incurred to people due to mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression. People seek relief in alcohol, drugs, food, social media and other forms of escape; generally well before they will seek professional support.
What is causing all this stress?
Simply, the pace of life and work today puts greater demand on our mental health. There are many factors and life experiences that are stressors in the workplace and in our personal lives.
- Financial strain
- Relationship deterioration
- Loss of a parent, friend or loved one
- Poor physical health and fitness
- High workload
- Tight deadlines
- Difficult colleagues
- Pressures of frequent change
Our overall Mindset Fitness and resilience is measured across six key domains. Purpose, composure, reasoning, tenacity, collaboration and health. If any of these functions are diminished, a person is at much greater risk of succumbing to the effects of stress.
How can we better cope with all of life’s challenges?
Mental Fitness & Resilience Skills
Resilience skills are a critical protective factor against mental health disorders. The way to manage stress is by boosting the capacity of employees to be resilient. They not only learn to be adaptable and handle uncertainty but to flourish as well.
Resilience is more than bouncing back – that implies returning to the status quo. A great definition is – advancing despite adversity – from Jurie Rossouw in “Executive Resilience”. Advancing means to keep growing and achieving our personal and business goals despite the challenges and obstacles we experience. It is sometimes not easy, however, it is about finding the positive side of the adversity.
We can only advance if there is a goal to head towards, and hence we need clarity of purpose as a driving force in our professional and personal lives.
Another aspect, often ignored, is developing resilience before facing a major crisis. So often people want to learn resilience afterwards. Your team members need to develop resilience proactively as a skill for successful living, despite whatever situations arise.
Advancing Despite Adversity
Advancing despite adversity includes life-altering events and the minor challenges of everyday life. From heavy traffic and noisy neighbours, to frustrating work colleagues and customers, small annoyances can really add up. Too much time and energy goes into fretting about things we can’t change and distracts us from our goals.
Being able to take minor and major disruptions in our stride is not a natural skill. Throwing someone into the deep end does not guarantee they will learn to swim. Some simply sink, and too often employers don’t recognise the signs that they are drowning.
We all eventually face adversity. It’s not a matter of if, but when. This is why Mental Fitness and Resilience training and development should be mandatory for everyone. It’s a powerful way to build adaptability and help us overcome – rather than succumb to – the challenges of work and life.
Employers do have the power to enrich their people’s lives with the mindset skills to function effectively in business, relationships and life overall.
As Richard Branson says,
“Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business”.
 Econtech. (2008). The cost of workplace stress in Australia. Australia: Medibank Private Limited.