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    The American Psychological Association defines (psychological) resilience as “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”  Most leaders of work organizations know that employee resilience is associated with greater job satisfaction, better communication and teamwork, greater engagement with the organization’s mission, and of employees having higher levels of a sense of wellbeing at work.  Resilient people tend to have higher self-esteem, report a feeling of greater control over their lives and have better interpersonal relationships at work and in their personal lives.

    Employee resilience can be taught

    Progressive employers know that resilience can be taught, and that work organizations have an interest in building resiliency in their employees.  They also recognize that resilience is more important today than ever.  This is because America’s mental health is strained under the multiple forces of the coronavirus pandemic with its death, illness and disruption of routines; high levels of job stress; a nearly year-long and historic economic crisis; ongoing social unrest around systemic racism; and a politically polarized and divided country.  Additionally, the country’s physical and mental health supports are equally strained and stretched.

    Whose responsibility is it?

    Unfortunately, too many employers think that the teaching and learning of resiliency is the personal responsibility of individual employees.  Or that it’s the responsibility of the human resource manager who oversees their Employee Assistance Program or other Wellness programs.  While employees do have a personal responsibility in learning resiliency and human resource organizations need to be engaged in teaching it, there is another vital component needed for building resilient workforces- leadership.

    How leaders can build employee resilience

    I want to address just one of several, no or low-cost steps business leaders can take to create a resilient workforce. That step is what I call building resiliency through a culture of connections at your workplace. It’s about communication as connection. Business leaders need employees to understand their businesses, their customers, their industry’s trends, threats and opportunities in order to be innovative. But this communication can also build the type of connectedness that supports employees’ mental health, engagement, retention and productivity.  It can thereby increase the organization’s effectiveness and output, a responsibility of all leaders.

    Here are three steps leaders need to be taking to build a culture of connectedness that supports employee resiliency.

    1. Communicate often and regularly with your employees.  Don’t be haphazard and don’t miss an opportunity to share relevant information and your concerns for employees.
    2. Ensure your messaging is honest and respectful. Make sure it acknowledges quality of life concerns and ensure it connects your employee’s values to your organization’s mission. Naturally, employees won’t retain all the information you share, but they will retain the emotional impact and values resonance that your messaging carries.
    3. Be multi-channel and multi-level. Not everyone hears, sees, and learns the same way that you do. Nor at the same time. Start communication during recruitment, orientation, and on-boarding. Enlist employees’ feedback and input about communication processes.

    None of these steps are costly or heavy lifts.  But, all can be very impactful in creating a culture that supports and builds employee resilience.

    About the Author

    Norman Winegar, LCSW, CEAP, NCAC II is the Chief Clinical Officer at Espyr. For over 30 years, Norman has practiced in mental health, substance misuse, and EAP settings. He has also worked in leadership positions in both public and private sector behavioral health organizations. An author of four books, he is frequently called on for presentations and as a panelist to share his expertise and experience as a mental health professional.

    About Espyr

    For over 30 years Espyr, has provided innovative mental health solutions to organizations operating under some of the most challenging conditions. Espyr’s portfolio of customized counseling, coaching and consulting solutions help people and organizations achieve their full potential by providing mental health support and driving positive behavioral change.  For more information on how Espyr can help your organization, call Espyr at 888-570-3479 or click here.


    These remarks are based on a presentation entitled “A Strengths-based Approach to Building Resiliency”,  conducted by Mr. Winegar at the 2020 Women In Trucking Association’s Accelerate! Conference.  For more information visit the Women In Trucking Association’s website:

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