A happy workforce versus a resilient one; which would you choose?
Solicitor and Head of Employment, Genus Law
As we all know from that famous boy band, life really is a rollercoaster.
Crises will happen and the success of businesses which manage to survive the ups and downs that they will face depends to a large extent on the resilience of their people. However, resilient teams which possess a collective ability to withstand the knocks may not always be happy ones. Does this matter and is it better to strive for a happy workforce instead? Emma Hammond, Head of Employment Law at Genus Law takes a look.
The search for happiness…
The media plays a significant role in applying both overt and covert pressure on us all to seek and achieve happiness in both our working and personal lives. This can lead to a feeling of failure if we face a period of unhappiness, or even an “off day” when we’re not quite on form and simply feeling a bit low.
The business world also feels this pressure. Many employers seek to outdo one another in relation to the added extras they can offer their people such as whacky away days, games rooms and duvet days.
Whilst all of these benefits have their place, the answer to creating healthier workplaces where people and their employers can thrive and survive especially during tougher times, is to focus on resilience. After all, happiness is only a transitory feeling, which varies greatly from person to person and simply cannot be achieved all of the time. Once we accept this, life really does become easier and we find we’re actually kinder to ourselves and others.
Resilience – a reality check
Happily, resilience is not a trait but something that can be learnt. Often, by dint of working alongside people who tend to display the behaviours and characteristics associated with more resilient people, (such as optimism and the ability to accept that they can’t control everything) others tend to absorb and learn to be more resilient themselves.
However, it pays to take nothing for granted and resilience training for both teams and individuals is recommended. This should be bespoke and focus on the specific sector or industry in question given that a tailored approach based on the particular issues facing the business and where it is in its lifecycle will produce much better results.
At Genus Law, as part of our ongoing wellbeing programme, we focus on providing our people with the training and tools they need to improve their focus and resilience. We feel it’s vital that our people are resilient so we can deliver the level of service we are committed to providing to our clients. We foster an environment where our people can develop practical resilience behaviours that can be used throughout work and home life. Whilst we know this to be essential at a personal level, we’re also working hard to engender this within each team and the wider business.
The key is to create a workforce which readily accepts the rollercoaster analogy with bells on i.e. there is a very realistic approach to life both at home and at in work that there will be difficult times and that’s fine. In fact it’s normal. The million dollar question is how those tough patches are dealt with as that’s what really matters.
“When you are going through hell, keep going” (Winston Churchill)
Often some of the hardest times we look back on in life can end up being described as the “best thing that ever happened to me”. In the Employment team, we often hear this when clients speak to us many months after they have been made redundant due to the new and unexpected opportunities they have enjoyed and lessons they have learnt.
However, in order to get to that place, it sometimes feels like we have to journey through hell. The route to success is to give people the tools to become more resilient in order for that journey, when it comes, to pass more smoothly.
Once this happens and the foundations are laid, by default these workplaces do tend to become happier places than they were. This is due to an increased sense of confidence and positivity in the face of the guaranteed adversity which will hit at some point. The very fact that these more resilient teams are not always “happy” and are able to accept that this is simply part of life is their key attribute and will no doubt place them head and shoulders above the rest.
If you would like to speak to us about how we can bring resilience training to your employees, either as a standalone project or part of a wider wellbeing programme, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0113 320 4540