2020 Resources – Five Ways to Boost Your Resilience at Work

Five Ways to Boost Your Resilience at Work by Rich Fernandez

There is a burgeoning phenomenon of ‘quick fix’ articles and books that promise nirvana with lists of the “5 ways to make your life better” or “3 things you need to do to achieve perfection” and other unsustainable or unrealistic ‘promises’. Life is just too complex to be reduced to five things. However, I am still curious about what is being suggested and from time to time I find useful nuggets such as this Harvard Business Review article by Rich Fernandez. What I appreciate is that it is evidence-informed (drawing on the emerging neuroscience research and offering lots of great links) and imminently practical and applicable to our VUCA worlds in social care (i.e. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity).

Fernandez first sets the stage by discussing data on the prevalence and impact of work-related stress, and distinguishes between ‘good stress’ and debilitating stress. He then goes on to discuss the concepts of resilience and how it can be intentionally built and fostered both individually and organizationally. So what are the five strategies? 

  • Exercise mindfulness – Great suggestions for further reading and mobile apps to support mindful practice.
  • Compartmentalize your cognitive load – Emphasizes the benefits of ‘serial mono-tasking’ rather than distracted multi-tasking.
  • Take detachment breaks – Honours the peaks and valleys of our physical and cognitive energy and the importance of pushing the ‘pause’ button even for a few moments every few hours to detach from the pressured work and do a small restorative act.
  • Develop mental agility – Mentally ‘decentre’ stressors by taking a step back and observing from a neutral perspective. Although not mentioned in the article, the practice of The Work that we use in Leadership 2020 is a powerful mental agility-supportive practice.
  • Cultivate compassion – Including self-compassion and compassion for others.

Although the focus is on individual actions, Fernandez also speaks to ways in which organizations can foster resiliency amongst staff. He provides evidence that it is good not only for the workers but also for productivity, effectiveness and it offers high ‘returns on investment’. In our world, I suspect that all this translates into better care and services for the people we serve too—seems like a great topic for discussion in our teams and agencies.