Instant Ideas and Collaboration

Feature #35: Building resilience

This is a companion piece to our 7 June #uklibchat on Resilience in the workplace: managing stress and anxiety.

This blog post is not a substitute for for professional advice.  While it attempts to draw together representative resources and opinions in the field, it does not endorse any of these resources and can take no responsibility for adverse consequences of following advice here or in any other publication. 



“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences” (APA, 2016).  It is a trait that is believed to be increasingly useful in handling stressful and life changing situations within the workplace, as well as a useful general life skill (Nowlan, 2015).

Resilience is an increasingly important quality both for individuals facing increasingly diverse and unpredictable pressures and workloads and for the management of their organisations in increasingly competitive times (“Developing resilience”, n.d.).

While not everyone may not be naturally equally resilient, everyone can learn resilience, which there is some evidence to suggest is a commonplace trait that can be cultivated by everybody and is not necessarily reliant on innate abilities or traits but rather on thoughts, behaviours and habits that can be learned and nurtured (APA, 2016).


Defining resilience

Barton (2016) summarises the attributes and behaviours of resilient people, while this Harvard Business Review article by Seligman (2011) gives a narrative on the evidence and impact on individuals and businesses to develop resilience, considered largely from the viewpoint of personnel recruitment and including a discussion of resilience psychology from a military perspective.


Managing organisational resilience

The HSE and Australian Public Service Commission have looked at looked at workplace stress and resilience from a management perspective, and give advice on how workplace design, an inclusive workplace culture, resilience training, coaching and mentoring for staff and effective mechanisms for support recovery can help both individuals and develop resilience and encourage healthy coping mechanisms in an organisation.

Working with IOSH and Workwell, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have published a guide to best practice for the management of resilience at different levels of an organisation, from an individual to an organisational level.  While the document reflects on the situation largely from that of a specialist HR department the best practice evidence reviewed might be of interest to leaders and senior managers.

These magazine articles also offer opinions on resilience and its management:

Barton, K. (2016).  Resilience: a “must have” characteristic in today’s workplace.

Nowlan, K. (2015). Six building blocks of resilience for line managers. 


Resilience and stress

While increasing resilience is clearly a laudable goal, it sits hand in hand with minimising controllable workplace stressors in the first place so that resilience is tested as little as possible.  Advice on managing workplace stress has been published by various sources including ACAS, and most notably and comprehensively by the HSE, who provide a full toolkit to guide managers and leaders in the systematic investigation and reduction of stress in the workplace.


Self-help guides

Self-help guides for developing personal resilience

Various self-help guides have been published by reputable organisations for individuals to teach themselves to become more resilient.

Self-help guides for overcoming stress and associated conditions

  1. NHS – Self help leaflets
  2. Student Wellbeing Service (University of Portsmouth) – Self-help and other resources 



ACAS. (n.d.).  Advice leaflet: Stress at work.  Retrieved from http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=815

APA.  (2016).  The road to resilience.  Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx

Australian Public Service Commission. (2013).  Building resilience.  Retrieved from http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/mental-health/building-resilience

Barton, K. (2016).  Resilience: a “must have” characteristic in today’s workplace.  Retrieved from http://www.witi.com/wire/articles/172/Resilience:-A-%22Must-Have%22-Characteristic-in-Today’s-Workplace/

Barton, T. (2015). How employers can boost employees’ emotional resilience.  Retrieved from http://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/issues/may-2015/how-employers-can-boost-employees-emotional-resilience/

CABA. (n.d.). Building personal resilience in the workplace: A webinar for ACA students in partnership with ICEAW.  Retrieved from: http://www.icaew.com/~/media/corporate/files/qualifications%20and%20programmes/aca/aca%20students/initial%20professional%20development/cabawebinar%20building%20personal%20resilience%20slides.ashx

Developing resilience: an evidence-based guide for practitioners. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/developing-resilience_2011-evidence-based.pdf

HSE. (n.d.). Work related stress: together we can tackle it.  Retrieved from http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/

Mind.  (2013). How to manage stress. Retrieved from http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/stress/developing-resilience/

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. (2013). Self help leaflets.  Retrieved from http://www.ntw.nhs.uk/pic/selfhelp/

Nowlan, K. (2015). Six building blocks of resilience for line managers.  Retrieved from http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/six-building-blocks-of-resilience-for-line-managers/

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011, April). Building resilience.  Harvard Business Review.  Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2011/04/building-resilience

University of Portsmouth. Student wellbeing service. (n.d.). Self-help and other resources.  Retrieved from http://www.port.ac.uk/students/student-wellbeing-service/self-help-and-other-resources/



About philoslibris

I am a chartered librarian currently employed as the Assistant Librarian (Promotions) managing the promotional communications of the University of Portsmouth.

2 comments on “Feature #35: Building resilience

  1. Pingback: #uklibchat Tues 7 June 6.30-8.30pm BST: Resilience in the workplace. | #uklibchat

  2. Pingback: #uklibchat on resilience | ukmedlibs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on May 26, 2016 by in Feature and tagged , , , .


%d bloggers like this: