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Could an online tool help your employees to become more resilient?

Resilient people are more flexible, more adaptable and ultimately more productive

For a workforce performing at the top of its capabilities, it is important that staff are resilient to whatever life or work tosses at them. Much as we might like daily life to be a parade of smiles, flowers and blue skies, the reality is somewhat different. Being able to pick yourself up after a bad day where one thing after another has gone wrong is the kind of resilience that that will help achieve success.

For employers, a lack of resilience in employees can mean staff arrive at the office with low mood, anxiety or even depression, and then exhibit little enthusiasm for grinding through the day, let alone tackling the day’s activities with energy and flair. Research in the US has demonstrated that employers can lose more than 30 days of productivity each year for every staff member who is depressed. More than 20 per cent of employees in the States report symptoms of depression each year, and more than 15 million are affected by excessive anxiety or stress. The total cost of lost productivity related to these conditions in the US is more than $40 billion a year.

Resilience training is one way of addressing these issues and helping staff to retain their equanimity when faced with stressful situations. This kind of training helps people learn tactics for dealing with and then recovering from adversity. It can have a large range of benefits, from boosting physical health to relieving anxiety and depression and ultimately boosting performance in the workplace. However, this training can require extensive one on one interaction, which is both time-consuming and costly. The benefits are there, but the method of delivering them has not been seen as practical.

There have been moves to try and make resilience training easier and simpler. As a way of reducing the costs to society and business, recent research examined whether an online app could boost morale if employees interacted with it regularly. People using an online service which helped in reducing stress were monitored to see what changes might be observed.

Participants in this study were requested to use this online platform two or three times a week for around eight weeks, taking part in exercises such as taking time for self care, increasing mindfulness, setting goals, practicing forgiveness and focusing on gratitude. The performance of employees not using the online service was compared with those who did.

After the eight weeks had passed, researchers found that the group using the online platform demonstrated a 25 per cent increase in the resilience of staff members who had been experiencing acute stress in the workplace or their emotional life. This improvement was significantly larger than that experienced by the employees who were consulting general mental health topics on the internet or taking no action at all.

Even better, the biggest improvements were seen with the employees whose stress was the greatest, and who would require the most resources to be helped. The results seen from this study indicate that an online platform can be an effective source of resilience training, with results that can be experienced within weeks.

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