With the global economy in a protracted state of flux, it’s not at all surprising that 94% of you report that you’re dealing with personal and professional challenges. For most of you it’s a combination of both. And one in five of you say you’re feeling overwhelmed by these challenges.
These findings come from August’s ‘Quick iOpener Survey’ (QiS) into the subject of personal resilience. iOpener’s research has uncovered a picture of how people are coping in these difficult times.
Interestingly, while challenges have remained a constant for a lot of you over the past few months, 26% of you are reporting an increase in your resilience. This is echoed in iOpener’s aggregated data from its happiness at work survey (iPPQ), indicating that resilience during difficult times at work has increased from 5.18 pre-COVID to 5.51 out of 7 during COVID.
This year has been a pivotal time, forcing you to experience unprecedented challenges to the status quo. You’ve told us that there’s a myriad of challenges that occupies your mind; ranging from anxiety about your older children at school-leaving/university age to financial stress. Also frequently mentioned are your worries about elderly relatives, concerns about the inadequate way in which politicians are responding to the crisis, and worries about bringing the business in or indeed about what a change in career may look like. Dealing with uncertainty is a theme that keeps cropping up too. And, of course, loneliness and isolation.
What the QiS clearly shows is that your sense of resilience and overwhelm can and do co-exist in you at the same time, creating an apparently contradictory tension. Sometimes challenges may seem impossible to overcome, and other times manageable, perhaps even within the same day. Awareness of this paradox is particularly significant for anyone supporting others in navigating the changing landscape of work. If that person is you, then hopefully you’ve already stepped up to have these conversations about people’s current challenges and you’ve found ways to support your colleagues and teams emotionally. Just asking how people are managing is an obvious starting point.
It’s normal to be struggling with the current situation. What you’re feeling is known as ‘anticipatory grief’. Anticipatory grief is your response to uncertainty. Your primitive mind knows that something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This causes confusion and anxiety; and interferes with your need to feel safe and secure.
As a recent Harvard Business Review article explains, “The discomfort you’re feeling is grief”. You’re grieving the way things used to be. Kessler, one of the world’s foremost experts on grief and who worked closely with Kübler-Ross, explains that the anxiety that you’re experiencing is due to your loss of normalcy. The loss of human connection is one of the most trying aspects of this loss of normalcy. And, of course, in times of adversity you would normally reach out to be in others’ physical company and that option is now limited too.
You’re trying to create a semblance of control. You’re dealing with a complexity of emotions. Any number of concerns may be affecting you e.g. your health being at stake, your job being on the line, watching companies struggle to survive, markets melting, daily Coronavirus statistics. As a result, your mind can go into overdrive and you respond by trying to work even harder to get through. Staying productive gives us an illusion of control. However, as Petriglieri, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD explains, this phenomenon of throwing yourself into work as a way to deal with ratcheted-up anxieties is called ‘manic defense’. This overdrive can push you into burnout; a place that no one wants to end up.
Understanding how you can support your team with resilience-building strategies and coping mechanisms has become an important part of every organization’s learning and development. iOpener’s Building Personal & Organizational Resilience program is a flagship program, drawing on our very current research findings. This is a highly practical workshop offering tools that will be of immediate relevance to your people. If you’d like to receive a video of a sample section of this program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Just 60 seconds of your time …
To participate in this month’s QiS on Purpose at Work, please click on this link: