New Research: Resilience is the Antidote to a Toxic Work Environment

This piece originally appeared on Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Study by meQuilibrium experts underscores business value of building employee resilience on the front lines and in the corner office

New research shows that resilience could be what individuals need to thrive in the face of a toxic work environment. “The Positive Effect of Resilience on Stress and Business Outcomes in Difficult Work Environments” found that greater resilience was linked to positive impacts on an individual regardless of work environment, a finding that runs counter to widespread belief that one’s environment is more influential than an individual’s resilience capability in determining an employee’s likelihood of success. The study was authored by researchers affiliated with meQuilibrium, the leading data-driven resilience solution for the workplace.

While a number of research studies have shown being in a high-demand work environment, without flexibility or support, makes for a toxic situation, this study, initially published in the latest edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the first to identify the independent protective effect of resilience against health issues like depression and negative workplace outcomes like burnout, absence and intent to quit in all work environments. In fact, even employees in the toughest environments can still have positive outcomes, such as greater job satisfaction, when they have resilience. More specifically:

  • The exact effect of resiliency varies—with those in less challenging environments experiencing strong protective effects on burnout and sleep, and those in more challenging environments seeing strong protective effects against depression, absence and productivity.
  • There is a strong connection and interconnection between resilience and social support, as people with high resilience and high social support at work have even more positive effects than people with just high resilience or just high social support.
  • While social support did show to make people successful at work, the research found it cannot overcome low resilience, meaning even a great boss or close friends at work will not help people overcome a bad environment if they are not resilient