Resilience at Work

Resilience at Work

Even in our relatively safe and prosperous country, bush fires, floods, crime and accidents are all too common. And we all know someone who’s battled cancer, responded to a family tragedy or faced a life changing event. Somehow these people find a way to keep going. We call them resilient, and we question our own ability to cope under such adverse circumstances.

But increasingly, resilience is being called upon by ordinary people in ordinary circumstances to help them get by. In the workplace, it’s resilience that’s going to help us deal with demanding customers, challenging client groups, high stress work, difficult managers, toxic work environments, constant change, uncertainty and increasing pressure to do more with less … get the picture.

Being resilient at work means that you can

  • Manage the inevitable, every day stress of work while staying healthy;
  • Rebound and learn from unexpected setbacks; and
  • Proactively prepare for future challenges that you’re likely to face.

Essentially, workplace resilience is about being the best you can be in the environment in which you work. Imagine how much more comfortable, satisfying and even enjoyable, our work-life could be if we faced the inevitable bumps and hurdles from a foundation of resilience.

Recent research has shown that our level of resilience at work is not a fixed attribute or personality trait. You can increase resilience through changing your thoughts and behaviour, and by developing and deploying a ‘toolkit’ of strategies to meet the challenges you are facing.

The Resilience At Work ([email protected] Sustain 7) model, developed by Adelaide Organisational Psychologist Kathryn McEwen and colleagues,  comprises seven components which interrelate and contribute to your overall work resilience.  Understanding and investing in each of these components enables you to sustain performance while preserving your well being.

The 7 Resilience At Work components are:

You know and hold onto your personal values, deploy your strengths, and have a good level of emotional awareness and regulation.

Your work offers purpose and a sense of belonging.  It also aligns with your core values and beliefs.

You stay optimistic and keep a solution-focus when things go wrong. You reframe setbacks and minimise the impact of any negativity around you.

You have work and life routines that help you manage your everyday stressors.  You work to create work-life balance and ensure time for relaxation and recovery.

You seek feedback, advice and support and also provide support readily to others.

You maintain a good level of physical fitness, have a healthy diet and get adequate sleep.

You develop and maintain the personal and professional support networks you need at home and at work in order to perform well in your job.


Every single one of these components can be developed if you have the motivation and tools to do so. Which one do you need to invest in, to have the biggest impact on your resilience at work?