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Building a resilient workforce

Resilience in the workplace is about individuals, teams and organisations functioning well during normal operating conditions, as well as in times of stress or trauma. It can be thought of as a protective barrier that shields people, helping them to cope effectively in times of change, high pressure and stress. Levels of resilience can change over time and the workplace can help to build resilience.

Comcare asked Centre of Excellence Advisory Group member Dr Sam Harvey from the Black Dog Institute and the University of New South Wales to help Comcare develop this guidance for workplaces on what resilience is and how it can be developed.

It is important to build resilience in the workplace because for most people, being at work is good for their mental health and wellbeing. Working adults spend more time at work—approximately one-third of their day—than in any other setting. This gives employers unrivalled opportunities to influence the health of their workers, including improving their resilience. This is important because a resilient worker and workforce are more likely to be healthy and productive.

Four factors that influence resilience in the workplace

There are four factors that influence resilience in the workplace—individual workers, individual jobs, teams and organisations. Depending on these factors, resilience can be built or weakened.

A good job, a highly functioning team and a positive organisational culture can buffer workers against the impact of work related stress. The diagram below demonstrates how the individual worker (in the centre) is surrounded and supported by the other three factors that influence resilience in the workplace. For example, good work buffers individuals from workplace stress and builds individual and organisational resilience. 

FINAL-resilience-zorb-diagram_edit

I am an individual and want... A meaningful, secure and flexible job with role clarity. A supportive manager and team that is respectful and communicates well. An organisation that is accountable, has clearly defined goals and strong leaders. These are the factors that build a resilient workforce.

When thinking about building resilience, it is important for the workplace to understand how to implement a successful program that considers individual, organisational and team factors.

Page last updated: 15 May 2014