New Research on the Connection Between Resilience and Positive Business Outcomes

Stress is a modern-day epidemic. It affects every corner of our lives: personal relationships, physical health, emotional well-being and, notably, work performance and engagement—and employers are taking notice. According to the National Business Group on Health/Towers Watson 2013/2014 Staying@Work Survey, 78 percent of employers identify stress as the top risk factor for their workforce.

Conventional wisdom dictates that there are two types of people: those who are easily overwhelmed and stressed, and those who gracefully navigate tough situations. However, the latest science proves that this ability to cope and thrive in stressful situations—known as resilience—is not an inherent trait you either have or don’t. It’s a measurable set of skill-based competencies. It can be learned, and everyone has the ability to increase his or her resilience reserves.

To demonstrate the power of resilience, we measured how resilience stacks up against the top scientifically proven, industry-standard metrics. The results show strong correlations between high levels of resilience and positive business outcomes, and evince the value of resilience for business leaders, human resources executives, and the everyday employee. Here are three powerful outcomes drawn from the study:

1. Resilient people feel less stressed and more motivated

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)—the most common and respected psychological method for measuring stress—identifies the degree to which situations in one’s life are perceived as stressful. When matching up responses to the PSS against the resilience score, there is a strong negative correlation, meaning higher resilience scores correspond to lower perceived stress. The most resilient workers experienced 46 percent less stress than workers with low resilience.

Burnout is an indication that workers have less motivation to work and are less effective in their jobs. Employees who exhibit the highest level of resilience also have the lowest incidence of burnout. The most resilient workers experienced burnout 57 percent less often than those with the least resilience.

2. Resilient workers are less absent and more effective

Compared to highly resilient workers, twice as many employed individuals with low resilience reported 1 to 3 absences in the previous month. In addition, the lower a person’s resilience score, the less present—and thereby effective—they are when at work.  The most resilient employees reported 57 percent less work impairment.

3. Resilience translates to better physical and mental health

Stress has a huge impact on both physical and emotional health. Low resilience correlates with poor overall health. In fact, employees with low resilience are more than twice as likely to be overweight and twice as likely to report a hospital stay in the past year. In addition, individuals with low meQ resilience scores are 50 percent more likely to suffer from depression.

The workplace is changing. Organizations are dealing with an employee base that is under pressure and experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before. Empowering employees to build resilience will result in fostering a workforce of more present, satisfied, engaged and healthy workers.

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