Resiliency key to overcoming toxic work environments

By Claire McInerny

This piece originally appeared on BenefitsPRO

For employees in toxic work environments, logic says a negative work environment will overshadow an employee’s ability to be successful in the job.

But new research from meQuilibrium shows there is one thing that can override negative aspects in toxic work environments: resiliency in the employee.

The study defines resiliency in this case as the “ability to manage stress and bounce back from adversity.”

The research, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, shows if an employee practices resilience, regardless of work environment, they are more likely to avoid health risks and negative outcomes associated with stressful working environments (depression, burnout, anxiety).

The study shows an individual with high resiliency, as well as a strong social support at work, led to better outcomes with stress, burnout, sleep troubles and job satisfaction. So resiliency plus having strong relationships with coworkers helps employees curb the negative effects of toxic work environments.

Jan Bruce, CEO of meQuilibrium, says this research is important as more employees find themselves in difficult and stressful work environments.

“For the employee, it means there are steps you can take and skills you can learn to gain control and be successful, even in very difficult work environments,” Bruce says.

Bruce says some steps an employee can take to build their resiliency include building emotional control, practicing how one would react in an adverse environment. She also says employees can build resiliency by developing their own sense of purpose in the work. Seeing how they are crucial to their organization and finding pride in what they contribute.

“Resilience is learnable,” Bruce says. “It’s not just nature, it’s nurture. You can learn this and it is a powerful tool for companies to help people change their thinking styles so that they can be more adaptive and less stressed in the midst of really tough work environments.”

meQuilibrium uses science and data to develop coaching software to help employees and employers build resiliency. The research was based on 2,000 surveys, asking people to compare their resilience capacity and their job strain.