The Forgotten Resilience Hack You Need Today

Written by Jack Newnham Tuesday 28 August 2018
Purpose could be the key to driving resilience at work

When President John F. Kennedy visited NASA’s headquarters for the first time in 1961, he spoke to a caretaker who was cleaning the floor, and took the time to ask him about his role. The caretaker replied: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

The simple statement has gone viral. The story is often used to demonstrate how the leaders of the NASA missions in the 1960s created a compelling goal for the organisation, and also connected the smaller actions of individuals to this big goal.

Purpose Breeds Resilience

We often hear that purpose is key to having motivation in business, but it can help with resilience too. At an organisational level, making people see how their daily actions tie into the larger objectives of the company they work for can give people a purpose that protects against bumps in the road.

Within an ever-changing and more complex working world, it’s vital that managers have resilience skills and help a workforce have them too. Health and Safety Executive statistics tell us that 526,000 workers had work-related stress, anxiety or depression in 2016/17, with 12.5 million working days lost due to the same three conditions.

CMI’s own Quality of Working Life report revealed that managers are working an extra 44 days a year, which is having a negative impact on the workplace. One in 10 UK leaders shared that they take at least one day of sick leave annually, because of stress, depression or a mental health issue.

Read more: CMI’s Quality of Working Life report

How To Identify Purpose

Structured self-awareness can help us to identify what causes stress at work, and crucially can help us to identify the purpose that drives us. In this Insights piece, we explained that researchers had identified five questions to build greater self-awareness.

The questions include honest self-reflection – where managers spent 30 minutes in a quiet space to review their performance – providing constructive feedback, and showing empathy to colleagues.

Why do purpose and resilience matter to a business case? When individuals feel that they have a sense of meaning at work, they are more likely to perform well. CMI’s recent research found that purpose and profitability go hand in hand. And, having a strong business vision is crucial to attracting the best employees, with two in three millennials choosing their employer based on purpose.

Read more: The What, The Why and The How of Purpose: A guide for leaders

Jack Newnham is workplace wellbeing consultant for Health@Work.