An Inside Out Approach To Employee Wellbeing: A Guide to Resilience Training Programs

By Michelle Snyder

You don’t have to be a child to appreciate—and even learn from—a children’s movie. From excitement to sadness to joy, one movie that has stirred up conversation, action and an array of our own emotions is Pixar’s Inside Out - the compelling story of a young girl named Riley who is learning to understand and manage her feelings as she navigates changes in her life.

Pixar was intentional in using five scientifically proven emotions—joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger—as the well-meaning, but often misguided main characters. We have all felt each of these emotions (and then some), and there are times when we don’t know how to understand them or they lead us astray.

Emotional wellbeing and resilience—the ability to adapt well and recover quickly from mental stress—are gaining momentum in the workplace, and for good reason.

Research shows that if an employee practices resilience, they are more likely to avoid health risks, burnout, anxiety, and depression regardless of work environment.

According to findings from the 7th Annual Corporate Health and Wellbeing survey, 87 percent of employers offer emotional and mental wellbeing programs. This percentage is expected to grow as evidence mounts on the physical and financial toll of stress and a lack of resilience. Additionally, results from Whispers from the Water Cooler (a survey on what motivates employees to improve their health and wellbeing by Welltok and National Business Group on Health), show that 75 percent of employees have found emotional health and wellbeing programs useful. Here’s what you need to know:

Your Employees Are Stressed

The average American will spend approximately 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. This means that at some point, an employee will experience some form of grief, unhappiness, sadness, and stress, which will percolate into working hours. Without resilience, the impact of these negative emotions can be huge for both employees and employers.

Compared to employees who worry less, those who have a tendency to worry more are 25 percent less engaged at work and are more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, back pain, and sleep problems. For organizations, this could mean lost productivity, resulting in approximately $80 to $100 billion in indirect costs, higher turnover, and decreased overall company morale.

Outside of the financial value for organizations, providing emotional support to employees is also the right thing to do. The key is to be proactive, not reactive. Rather than treating the symptoms of emotional and mental strain after they occur, employers can help employees build a stronger foundation and deal with the root causes of stress with programs built on the science of resilience.

Resilience is The Key to Thriving

Resilience is an important aspect of an individual’s mindset, but it’s often overlooked. With 25 percent of all employees viewing their job as the number one stressor, it is more important than ever to help your workforce build resiliency skills to not only effectively navigate and manage stress but to thrive and reach their full potential both at work and at home. Crucial to this is understanding that resilience is a state, not a trait. Having a concrete set of skills, such as emotional control and realistic optimism, can be learned and strengthened through training and practice.

Employees who are more resilient are able to stay calm and clear-headed when sudden challenges occur. Those who are less resilient, are more likely to dwell on problems, feel overwhelmed, and rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage their stress. In fact, one study showed that a 12 percent increase in resilience can lead to a 5.4 percent improvement in performance, a 24 percent decrease in the avoidable absence and a 3.6 percent drop in employee turnover.

A good resilience program will show at least a 12 percent improvement in overall resilience. This level of improvement could improve top-line performance by as much as $531,000 for 10,000 eligible employees and lower absence and turnover costs by $178,000 annually.

Employers Can Cultivate Resilience

Digital health coaching programs can empower employees to become more resilient and less stressed, improving their emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing in the process. To create a positive and resilient workforce, employers should look to do the following:

  • Integrate with a health and wellbeing platform that provides employees with a consistent user experience and holistic approach supporting the emotional, mental, physical, financial and social aspects of health.
  • Deliver clinically proven and highly personalized activities aimed at increasing engagement, productivity, and performance while creating a workforce that has the ability to manage stress and reach their full potential.
  • Arm consumers with a variety of stress management and resilience-building techniques that can be incorporated into their daily routines. By intentionally practicing stress reduction on a regular basis, consumers are more equipped to manage sudden high-stress episodes.
  • Help consumers recognize when their lives are out of balance and give them strategies to prevent feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. By learning to recognize key indicators of anxiety and stress, they can begin to restore their sense of harmony and emotional wellbeing.
  • Help consumers develop a healthy mindset and encourage them to weather the challenges in their lives.

Inside Out teaches us that it’s important to navigate and accept our own feelings. Everyone, including your employees, will come across emotional and stressful situations at some point. Using smart technology and cultivating a strong culture that focuses on emotional health, employers can provide the support employees need to create a positive, emotionally-literate and resilient team. By building resilience, employees can learn to control their stress levels and solve problems quickly.

Original article appeared on HR.com on 8/24/2017.