Building a more resilient workforce

Menaca Pothalingam discusses why adversity can help build resilience and how employers can develop more resilience in their workforce

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records” – William Arthur Ward

Being a war victim, migrating twice, a business owner and a single-mum has taught me the gift of resilience. As someone who has previously suffered from burnout and stress-related illness, I know the ill effects of the hamster wheel lifestyle all too well.

I share my story to inspire others and create change to prevent burnout and stress-related illnesses developing in the workplace and to inform others of the benefits of learning resilience and developing a resilient workforce. The tools and strategies I used transformed me from a victim mindset to a success mindset and become a healthcare professional, increase the turnover of a business to 5x, become a serial entrepreneur and a multi-award-winning international speaker and author.

Setbacks and challenges are part of every business and unless you avoid growing or developing, you will face trials, tribulations, setbacks and failure.  Hence it makes sense to invest resources in developing a resilient workforce. This will not only prevent absenteeism and complaints, but will build a high-performing, productive team who can help your business level-up. Improved staff satisfaction and staff retention will reduce the cost of recruiting and retraining.

What is resilience?

Experts define resilience as the ability to bounce back to your original form after facing adversity. This is a vital component of your toolkit in the ever-changing fast-paced working environment.

Mental toughness helps you to deal with your challenges more effectively and having improved psychological and emotional health creates a healthy relationship with yourself and others.

Knowing any event doesn’t lead to the outcome. It is our reactions to these events which define the result. When you start taking responsibility and acknowledge the importance of your reactions on the outcome, you begin to approach the situation more constructively.

In this digital age, we work long hours and are always open to communication, even on holidays. With Brexit looming, the fear of job loss and financial implications are rife and we are continually trying to squeeze more work into less time to meet tight deadlines and are constantly multitasking.

When you understand and accept there will be stumbling blocks, you begin to focus on cultivating the skill of how to circumnavigate these to overcome them rather than just the problem itself.

These tips below will help you to instil resilience and create collective responsibility:

  • Have a common purpose which easily understandable and applicable because this will quickly align the team to the same goals and acceptable working processes. This mission helps team members to see the bigger picture and motivate and help them to deal with stressful situations.
  • Acknowledging making mistakes and wrong judgments are an important part of growth. Quickly realising this can help you identify problems earlier so solutions can be made earlier which prevents further complications.
  • As a leader, make sure you instil the belief that failures are the stepping stones for success and practice it.
  • Inspire, motivate and encourage your workforce with positive language combined with robust and enforced processes to improve morale at work.
  • When you focus on a culture of community and collaboration, the team tend to work through setbacks and find solutions collectively.
  • When you meet the needs of each employee and continuously develop your team individually, you create a unique sense of belonging for each team member that accentuates their self-confidence, perseverance and encourages them to acquire problem-solving skills.
  • When you are seen to spend resources on improving and maintaining high levels of wellbeing in employees, staff loyalty and retention is increased.
  • Instil adaptability and agility by sharing knowledge and skills through training and mentoring

Another useful method you can use with your team is The ‘Ten As’ system:

  1. Accept: Stop wasting time complaining about the situation or the people around you and take responsibility.
  1. Acknowledge: Come to terms with the veracity of your position and the reality around it.
  1. Analyse: Comprehensively analyse the situation and identify any underlying causes to stop it recurring.
  1. Assess: Evaluate the current situation objectively to understand the extent of the problem.
  1. Attitude: Maintaining a positive mindset is equally as crucial as strategic planning.
  1. Apply: Use the lessons you learn with future problems
  1. Adapt: Take control of the situation and do a course correction towards the right direction if any further issues arise.
  1. Acquire: Obtain the necessary skillset and knowledge and any experience necessary to get the results.
  1. Act: Be intentional in the actions you take and be realistic about the outcomes.
  1. Ask: You will be surprised once you seek help the resources that are available.

The success mindset can be achieved by learning lessons, adapting to changes, skillfully handling challenges and most importantly evolving into a sturdier, wiser people. Your team can exhibit resilience and growth if you implement the tips above and they demonstrate the change in thought, attitude and behaviour which will prevent burn out.

It is our responsibility to create, develop and nurture a resilient workforce where everyone’s a winner.

I believe in the words of Oprah Winfrey “Anything you can imagine you can create.”

 About the Author

Menaca Pothalingam is a serial entrepreneur, ambassador for women empowerment, author and resilience strategist. Menaca successfully sold her Healthcare practice after 23 years in the industry and decided to move into the world of coaching, putting her personal and professional experiences into practice. Menaca has overcome adversity including escaping the Sri Lankan Civil War, battling stress-related illness and succeeding as migrant Asian women in business alongside being a single mother. With qualifications in NLP, hypnosis, coaching, leadership and education, Menaca is helping others to take control of their lives, break free from victim mentality and turn their dreams into reality. For more information visit