Workplace Resilience Training: Finding The Right Approach for Your Organisation

Green shoot growing in the desert sand

Resilience in the workplace has never been more important.

We live in a fast-paced world. Working hard. Meeting deadlines. Hitting targets. Constantly striving to do better.

With all those challenges to navigate, it’s no surprise that a whopping 79% of employed British adults regularly experience work-related stress.1 

Stress is part of life. And being able to handle challenging situations or overcome setbacks is often determined by a person’s level of resilience. 

Luckily, resilience isn’t something people are just born with. It’s a combination of learned behaviours and actions, and this skill can be developed through resilience training.

Table of Contents

What is resilience?

According to the American Psychological Association,2 resilience is defined as “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioural flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

But, it’s important to remember that resilience means different things to different people. 

To us, resilience is having the ability to positively adapt and grow with change. To bounce back when things don’t go to plan and to recover quickly from adversity.

Being resilient doesn’t solve people’s issues, but it does help them to work through problems, and deal with stress more effectively – rather than dwelling on failures. 

They recognise the problem, learn from their mistakes, and move on.

Get free access to wellbeing resources, news and research

Get access to the exclusive Haptivate Wellbeing Resource Hub and stay up to date with all the latest wellbeing at work research, tools and tips by joining our monthly newsletter. We promise not to share your data or spam you with irrelevant information 🙂

What are resilience skills?

When someone is considered to be ‘resilient’, they generally:

  • Maintain a positive and optimistic outlook
  • Handle challenging situations with ease
  • View change as an opportunity or challenge
  • Have a high level of adaptability
  • Have a high tolerance for negativity 
  • Respond better to stressful or pressured situations

It has been demonstrated that various brain structures and pathways are involved in resilience3 and that resilience, like any other ability, can be strengthened with practice.

In addition, resilient individuals differ significantly in their neural activity compared with less resilient individuals.4 

To better understand how building mental resilience works, we can use physical resilience as as a parallel example:

If you go out for a run every day, your muscles become more resilient to the demands of that type of exercise. This builds your strength and endurance which then means you can run faster and further. 

Emotional resilience works in a similar way. It is a skill that can be learnt and developed.

Empirical evidence suggests that resilience is a skill that can be learned and acquired. The Harvard Business School5 has identified three aspects for building resilience, which include:

  1. Facing reality – It helps us to survive and endure when faced with adversity.

     

  2. Finding meaning – Searching for meaning during hard times which are aligned with one’s values.

     

  3. Improvisation – Keep going and do your best with whatever is at hand. Be inventive and innovative when faced with difficult situations.

Why is resilience at work important?

We spend a lot of time at work. So, it’s no surprise that it’s the most common cause of stress in people’s lives.6

Here are just a few of the benefits of investing in workplace resilience training:

  • Enables your teams with the tools to deal with stress and anxiety more effectively
  • Gives them a greater sense of control when things go wrong
  • Enhances employee wellbeing
  • Increases engagement, productivity, and performance
  • Improves employee relationships
  • Promotes job satisfaction
workplace resilience training

Common approaches to building resilience

Developing resilience doesn’t happen overnight. It’s complex and personal. It requires inner strength as well as external resources.

1. Mindfulness and emotion regulation.
Research has found that mindfulness training is positively related to effective emotional regulation; reduced negative responses, greater positive response and less emotional regulation difficulties.7 Emotional regulation has been considered a protective factor which buffers stress and fosters resilience.8

Fortunately, we all have an in-built system that helps us to destress and build our resilience. This is known as the parasympathetic nervous system.

This system, sometimes referred to as ‘the rest and digest system’ is responsible for relaxation. It also counterbalances the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the stress response of the body.

Research has identified a number of different activities that can activate our parasympathetic nervous system:

  • Mindfulness9
  • Nature walks10
  • Bathing11
  • Deep breathing12
  • Yoga13 
  • Exercise14

2. Positive psychology techniques.
Positive psychology focuses on the processes that help individuals to flourish. 15 Examples include techniques to foster optimism and gratitude which have been shown to increase positive emotions.16 This in turn contributes to greater resilience.17 18

3. Active coping.
Actively engaging in coping strategies and problem-solving helps to build resilience to stressful situations.19 20

Examples of active coping include:

  • Effective planning
  • Taking a pragmatic approach
  • Facing challenging situations head on

When it comes to developing resilience specifically in the workplace, it’s important to:

  • Equip employees to self-regulate when under stress – helping them to stay calm, grounded and level-headed in difficult situations.
  • Reduce sources of stress – even the most resilient and stress-tolerant teams will burnout if they’re overloaded with stress so seek out and tackle route causes.
  • Cultivate a supportive and responsive team and environment – knowing you’re not alone makes it easier to weather the storm when the going gets tough. Previous studies have found that social support is a protective factor against stress.21
  • Encourage psychological flexibility – seeking out new perspectives, ways of thinking and problem-solving techniques can help us to navigate obstacles more readily when they arise.

Types of resilience training

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to resilience training and the same method may have different impacts for different individuals.22

Challenges and stressors are not the same for all of us and may range from poor work-life balance, lack of autonomy, physical work environment, or relationships with colleagues.

The workplace stresses of someone working in finance are going to be different to someone working in healthcare. 

So let’s take a look at some of the most common types of resilience training, the audiences they serve and how you can get the best results.

Workplace resilience training – employees and teams

To manage and sustain workplace wellbeing, both the organisation and the employee must work together and be proactive in their approach. 

Employees who feel well supported, motivated, and equipped are best positioned to overcome obstacles and challenges. 

It’s important to take the time to properly map out your current situation, what are your employee’s main struggles? Where would they benefit the most from extra support?

  • Prioritisation
  • Managing their workload
  • Saying “no”
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Switching off from work
  • Developing a positive mindset
  • Regulating challenging emotions
  • Staying calm under pressure
  • Trying new things and getting out of their comfort zone
  • Managing anxiety when dealing with change
  • Taking breaks
  • Building healthier habits

Once you’ve pinpointed the main struggles your employees are facing, you’ll be able to tailor resilience training to get you the best results. 

Or you could take things even further by developing an Employee Wellbeing Programme.

resilience training for managers

Resilience training for companies – management and team leaders

Managers have to deal with all the typical stresses of work with the added pressure of having responsibility for other people. Not only do they have their team’s wellbeing challenges to navigate, but they must not neglect their own.

When leaders become overwhelmed by stress, they’re likely to be less present and focused. And passive leadership has a range of negative effects on teams, influencing employees’ attitudes and behaviours.

Successful leaders need to be able to push through challenges and stay motivated. Even when the odds are stacked against them, they must inspire their team to think positively. Research has even identified that optimism is an important predictor of resilience.23

Furthermore, resilient leaders tend to lead more resilient teams. Research shows that employees who positively rate their leaders’ handling of challenging situations also had higher levels of resilience.24

Investing in the resilience skills of your people leaders not only has trickle-down benefits for the team, but it also provides a foundation for further development. It can help managers to develop their approach to supporting and coaching their teams, ultimately developing their team members’ capacity to self-manage and improve their wellbeing and resilience.

However, particularly in the case of young and rapidly growing organisations, managers are often promoted based on technical ability without being supported to develop the soft skills they need to be successful leaders. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but the organisations do so expose themselves to significant risks – research shows that managers are responsible for 70% of the variation in employee engagement.25

  • Gallup reported that only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged at work
  • And, as low 13% worldwide are engaged

Everything improves when an organisation raises employee engagement levels across all business units. To make this happen, they must provide their managers with the skills required to successfully manage and lead a team.

Resilience training for university students

Resilience skills are essential for student success.

In particular, new students can benefit from support as they make the often bumpy transition to living away from home for the first time. On top of dealing with the stress of change, they also need to develop a healthy routine that works for them and supports their wellbeing.

There are the common stresses of coursework, exams, developing life skills and handling relationship troubles to consider. And, personal resilience and the ability to navigate these challenges plays a big role in shaping the student experience.

Young people who are more resilient have:

  • Higher levels of social competence
  • Improved problem-solving skills
  • Greater sense of autonomy and self-efficiency 
  • Increased sense of purpose, hope, or meaning26

By beginning to develop resilience in the classroom, we are helping to ensure that students are better prepared to enter adult life and face life’s challenges.

Some key areas to help students thrive are:

  • Practising gratitude – According to neuroscientist Dr. Alex Korb, practising gratitude “brings the capacity to enhance your physical and mental health, boost happiness, improve sleep, and make you feel more connected to other people”27.
  • Tackling imposter syndrome –  research from Study Hub found that two in five (43%) of university students may suffer from impostor syndrome 28, demonstrating how prevalent it is among the demographic.
  • Building healthy routines and habits – getting into positive habits is absolutely integral to maintaining a healthy work-life balance and building student resilience. 

Resilience training for healthcare professionals

There is no doubt that healthcare can be one of the most challenging sectors to work in even at the best of times. And through the COVID-19 pandemic, the resilience of healthcare professionals has been tested to the limit. 

According to the NHS, anxiety, stress, depression, and other psychiatric illnesses are consistently the most reported reason for sickness absence.29 Between April 2021 and June 2021 it accounted for over 502,000 work days lost.

We’ve worked with many kinds of healthcare professionals, ranging from NHS workers in hospitals, to care workers in care services. It’s given us an appreciation of some of the specific challenges the sector faces, including:

  • High levels of pressure and responsibility coupled with under-resourcing
  • Burnout and exhaustion from long and intense working shifts
  • The tendency to prioritise the needs of others over personal needs
  • Handling conflict and abuse from patients and/or family members
  • Risk of secondary trauma from caring for patients in extremely difficult situations
  • Becoming emotionally drained and experiencing compassion fatigue and desensitisation.

Support that focuses on increasing self-compassion, creating more opportunities for self-care practices and reconnecting to the meaning and purpose of the role can be particularly impactful in these types of organisations.

online resilience training

Online personal resilience courses

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate resilience interventions into your personal life there are several free online courses available that you may want to explore: 

  • Deakin University developed a 2-week course focused on enhancing resilience among professionals who work in high-pressure environments. It helps to understand resilience and develop a personal resilience plan. This course has been certified by the CPD UK. It has a rating of 4.8 out of 5. 

  • The Open University offers a free 8-week course focused on developing career resilience by engaging in personal reflection, boosting self-esteem, self-efficacy, building support systems, focusing on one’s strengths and finally creating an action plan for incorporating resilience into one’s life. This course is also accredited by the CPD

  • The University of Pennsylvania offers a free four-week resilience course, based on positive psychology techniques. It aims to develop resilience in both your personal and professional life by enhancing the protective factors which buffer stress and enhance resilience. Examples of these factors include mental agility, optimism and gratitude. It has a rating of 4.9 out of 5, with almost 2,000 reviews. 

  • This 6-week course delivered by the University of Macquire aims to help leaders to increase personal resilience by understanding stressors, managing demands and goal-setting, time management and personal organisation. It has a rating of 4.8 out of 5, with almost 300 reviews.

Personal resilience coaching

Coaches can help people acquire skills that boost their resilience in a variety of ways. They can help people reframe their cognitive response to situations, helping them to see new possibilities. With this new perspective, employees can be better equipped to bounce back, grow, and overcome obstacles.

Whilst 1-to-1 coaching gives a more tailored approach to a person’s needs, the results largely depend on the coach and coachee relationship.30

To help you figure out if a coach is the ‘right fit’ for you, ask yourself;

  • What do you want to gain from the experience?
  • What do you want to achieve by the end of it?
  • What kind of experience do you want the coach to have?
  • How are the essential qualifications your coach should have?

This is just a starting point. Ultimately “fit” is one of the most critical ideas to focus on. Can you work with the individual? Can you open up to them?

Many of our facilitators work with individuals on a one-to-one basis, helping them to build resilience skills as well as improve confidence, work/life balance or career progression.

How to choose the right resilience training provider

When planning a resilience training or programme there are a lot of things to consider and it can feel overwhelming at times. As you’re evaluating your options and trying to decide which partner to work with, here are 5 of the top factors to have in mind that will help set you up for success.

1. A Flexible Partner

Look for a partner who does their homework. They should take the time to get to know you and your organisation and deeply understand the audience they’ll be working with. Based on this, they should be willing to adjust both the content and format in order to produce the best results. Generic, pre-baked presentations won’t inspire meaningful behaviour change and can even be counter-productive. Even the slightest whiff of a ‘tick-box exercise’ and participants will check out.

2. Sound Methods

A lot of training content can centre around catchy acrostics and buzzwords that sound great in a brochure but later prove to be lacking in substance. An experienced resilience trainer should be able to articulate a logical methodology and have reliable data to back it up. The research it out there so it make sense to make the most of it!

3. A Solid Track Record

There’s a litany of options when it comes to wellbeing training – it’s a highly saturated market. After all, who wouldn’t want to help the world to be happier at work? But it’s important to go with a provider who’s equipped to tackle tough corporate audiences who can be sceptical and even suspicious of wellbeing as a topic. Checking out past projects and even having a reference call are highly recommended. 

4. Beware of Gurus

We’ve worked with a lot of clients who’ve had bad experiences with wellbeing training in the past. Here are just some of the things we’ve heard from them.

“The speaker was breathtakingly condescending.”

“A lot of the advice pretty much boiled down to do more meditation or meditate harder.”

“It didn’t seem like the content had much basis in fact. A lot of it was very vague and some things just seemed to be obviously wrong.”

Don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper in your conversations for red flags that might not be immediately obvious.

5. The Price is Right

Cost is naturally a huge factor in any purchasing decision. But the old adage of you get what you pay for is particularly pertinent when it comes to training.

Typically the biggest cost of training to organisations is actually the value of their staff member’s time. So skimping on the training provider saves less than you might think while running the risk of disappointing outcomes.

If you’d like some guidance about what resilience training would work best in your organisation, the Haptivate team is always happy to help. You can drop us a line here or even book a free consultation here.

Need a Hand?

If you’re searching for a partner to help improve wellbeing and happiness in your workplace, get in touch with a friendly member of our team. We’re here to help you reach your goals.

Aysha Frost

Aysha Frost

Digital Marketing

Get in touch

Complete the short form below to reach out to us. A member of our team will be in touch shortly!

Other articles that may interest you…

Important Dates For Your 2024 Wellbeing Calendar

Important Dates For Your 2024 Wellbeing Calendar

Here’s all the dates you’ll need to plan a great wellbeing at work programme for 2023.
Work from Home Wellbeing Ideas: Nurturing Balance and Wellness in a Remote Environment

Work from Home Wellbeing Ideas: Nurturing Balance and Wellness in a Remote Environment

Discover practical work from home wellbeing ideas to boost productivity, happiness, and overall wellness. Create a healthy and fulfilling remote work life.
Navigating Workplace Transitions: How to Prepare for Change as a Team Leader

Navigating Workplace Transitions: How to Prepare for Change as a Team Leader

Discover the key strategies for resolving conflict in the workplace. Discover practical tips for identifying & handling conflicts effectively.
From Tension to Teamwork: Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

From Tension to Teamwork: Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Discover the key strategies for resolving conflict in the workplace. Discover practical tips for identifying & handling conflicts effectively.

  1. https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/2020-workplace-stress-survey
  2. https://dictionary.apa.org/resilience
  3. Franklin et al., 2012; Russo et al., 2012
  4. Feder et al., 2009: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6110926/#B46
  5. Coutu, D. L. (2002). How resilience works. Harvard business review, 80(5), 46-56
  6. https://www.samaritans.org/news/work-number-one-cause-stress-uk/#:~:text=Work%20is%20the%20number%20one%20cause%20of%20stress%20in%20people's,significant%20impact%20on%20their%20wellbeing
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X15000974
  8. Troy, A. S., & Mauss, I. B. (2011). Resilience in the face of stress: Emotion regulation as a protective factor. Resilience and Mental Health, 30–44. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511994791.004
  9. Chopko et al., 2018: https://psychotherapy.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.20180015
  10. Scott et al., 2021: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/psyp.13698?casa_token=Hk_YJsJl4tIAAAAA%3Awk73hUQcIdRyIBXjIEK2-oUd3zUB2gNTy7fhHXgFFBWfGQd8jC-31hPv5kixwvakCySbi-D32ZhT
  11. Dotzert, 2012: https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1256&context=etd
  12. Herath et al., 2006: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987706001666?casa_token=JlLzoH5www4AAAAA:rIiLZe9fM1TV3kNTEMKbKqdwS_cuQ5Biz9U3G6Sh-Ei2thvbCX3JPGlm8UDqSo-u1Av6N9o
  13. Streeter et al., 2006: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987712000321?casa_token=SEwW1Ubnl_wAAAAA:sFc9cEKclFx9zL8bQiNgadaJtP4H0FCYpaVkHUbZRixZBAtZQQRFSm371mBIorJ5k10d6Vc
  14. Borressen & Lambert, 2012: https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200838080-00002
  15. Gable, Shelly L., and Jonathan Haidt. "What (and why) is positive psychology?." Review of general psychology 9.2 (2005): 103-110
  16. Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens and builds. The Psychology of Gratitude, 144–166. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150100.003.0008
  17. Gloria, C. T., & Steinhardt, M. A. (2014). Relationships among positive emotions, coping, resilience and mental health. Stress and Health, 32(2), 145–156. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.2589
  18. Warner, L. M., Schwarzer, R., Schüz, B., Wurm, S., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2011). Health-specific optimism mediates between objective and perceived physical functioning in older adults. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35(4), 400–406. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-011-9368-y
  19. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17461391.2011.635810?journalCode=tejs20
  20. Hanton, S., Neil, R., & Evans, L. (2013). Hardiness and anxiety interpretation: An investigation into coping usage and effectiveness. European Journal of Sport Science, 13(1), 96–104. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2011.635810
  21. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00222216.1993.11969913
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6110926/
  23. Warner, L. M., Schwarzer, R., Schüz, B., Wurm, S., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2011). Health-specific optimism mediates between objective and perceived physical functioning in older adults. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35(4), 400–406. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-011-9368-y
  24. Harland, L., Harrison, W., Jones, J. R., & Reiter-Palmon, R. (2005). Leadership behaviors and subordinate resilience. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 11(2), 2–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/107179190501100202
  25. https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/182792/managers-account-variance-employee-engagement.aspx
  26. Robinson, Elly. "Building Resilience: Helping Young Adults in the Adult Education Classroom." Aris Resources Bulletin 11.4 (2000): 1-4.
  27. https://alexkorbphd.com/the-upward-spiral-core-program
  28. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886900001847
  29. https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-sickness-absence-rates/april-2021-to-june-2021-provisional-statistics#:~:text=The%20overall%20sickness%20absence%20rate,than%20June%202020%20(4.0%25)
  30. The coach-coachee relationship in executive coaching: A field study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hrdq.20009?casa_token=EjyEnmMy_q0AAAAA:zJe4oGLLNhrRrUjho1lnijSAGo0DXAwYnwpfOXUvn05_p2bQLWwzRKMEnQ0AYLr75U3jWBudZBIz

The science of motivation & productivity

Explore the neuroscience of motivation and discover productivity hacks you can use to maximise your performance.

Discover how the brains reward system works and how we can tap into it to get ourselves and others ‘in the zone’ – and stay there. 

We’ll examine the latest neuroscientific research, theories of motivation and experimental evidence, addressing topics including overcoming procrastination, accessing ‘flow’ and creating effective goals and incentives.

What are the benefits?

Productivity icon

Learn more about this corporate workshop

Interested in courses for individuals?

Wellbeing for remote workers

Explore practical strategies, techniques and best practices you can use to stay happy, motivated and productive while working remotely. 

Remote teams have different needs and challenges when it comes to maintaining wellbeing. Both employer and employee need to account for this and be proactive about managing and maintaining wellbeing.

Utilising the latest scientific research and best practices from successful remote companies, we’ll explore practical approaches to creating healthy routines, managing isolation and maintaining motivation.

What are the benefits?

Working from home icon

Learn more about this corporate workshop

Interested in courses for individuals?

Coping with COVID: Maintaining mental wellbeing during Coronavirus

Discover science-based techniques to look after ourselves during the Coronavirus lockdown and stay positive and productive.

At this time of profound uncertainty, it’s even more important than usual to be proactive about managing our mental wellbeing.

Tapping into the latest research from areas including neuroscience, mindfulness and positive psychology, we’ll explore practical approaches to dealing with stress, uncertainty, isolation and the need to self-motivate.

What are the benefits?

Virus icon

Learn more about this corporate workshop

Interested in courses for individuals?

eventbrite-shield (1)

Eventbrite is a global platform for live experiences that allows anyone to create, share, find and attend events that fuel their passions and enrich their lives. From music festivals, marathons, conferences, community rallies and fundraisers, to gaming competitions and air guitar contests. Our mission is to bring the world together through live experiences.

Powered 3.9M events in 2018

795K event creators in 2018

Live experiences in 170 countries in 2018

Illustration of a star shaped badge with '100% satisfaction guarantee' written across it

Haptivate are dedicated to making you successful. We understand how precious the money you spend on self-development is and that working with a new company can feel like a risk.

That’s why we stand behind the effectiveness of our workshops with a no-quibble money back guarantee. If you give one of our workshops an honest try and are not wowed by your experience, send us an e-mail and we will take care of things.

Give your inbox a wellbeing boost!

Get all the latest wellbeing at work research, insights, tools and exclusive offers delivered straight to your inbox.

Come and join our amazing community and get free access to our wellbeing resource hub with 30+ (and counting…) value-packed resources.

Haptivate 101: Intro to the science of happiness at work

Discover a host of practical techniques that can boost mood, bust stress and help you to feel happier.

Haptivate 101 is an introductory workshop on how to bring greater positivity into your daily routine, using techniques based on the latest scientific research.

This interactive learning and team-bonding experience gives you practical tools to bust stress, boost mood and feel more connected.

What are the benefits?

Test tube icon

Learn more about this corporate workshop

Interested in courses for individuals?