Resilience Training in the workplace…is it worth it?

What is Resilience? There are a variety of definitions of resilience with the majority focusing on the ability to ‘bounce back’ from stress and avoid ‘burnout’. Stressors are often cited as external events that can arise both at work and home. Resilience doesn’t mean that a person is unaffected or immune from emotional discomfort and inner turbulence, in fact the resilient person may well endue significant psychological, and physical distress on their journey. Much like our physical bodies, our emotional system is built for homeostasis. When you fall over and graze your knee, it hurts, but you know that a scab will form over the graze and, despite being itchy and uncomfortable, new skin will develop and the scab will eventually fall off. If we allow ourselves to see our emotional system in the same way, it makes sense that the resilient person will experience discomfort as the emotional system resets itself and returns to homeostatic balance.

In much the same way as picking at the scab on your knee will prevent effective healing, blocking or excessive tampering with the emotional system will block, inhibit or prevent resilience. Resilience is not binary, it is not something you either have or don’t have. It varies and fluctuates, it can remain latent and untapped, waiting to be developed and unleashed. Resilience is not the absence of emotional strain, rather it is the ability to effectively process and regulate these experiences and move forward in life.

Coming back to the initial question, is resilience training worth it? The short answer is yes. Research suggests that resilience training will have a marked impact on reducing sickness absence, reducing presenteeism, increasing engagement and increasing productivity.

You would think with such convincing evidence there must be a certain type of training, consistent in content and duration that would yield such results. What is particularly interesting is that to a certain extent it doesn’t matter what type of training is implemented. Courses as short as 90 minutes have been shown to have a positive impact within the workplace.

While there are no conclusions as to why courses of varying length and content all have an impact, there are some suggestions that incorporating an element of one-to-one training and support may enhance results further.

In my opinion, resilience is an innate quality that can be accessed with the appropriate nudges. Training courses that focus on subjective well-being and nurturing good mental health focus on the individual as a living, breathing, feeling, human being. This is in contrast to the more traditional mechanistic perspective that we are used to seeing, where individuals are often thought of as a commodity; employees and managers fulfilling roles and functions, ‘a cog in the works’. Developing this human focus through programs such as resilience training will undoubtedly bear fruit in the short, medium and longer term, with reductions in presenteeism and sickness absence, increases in engagement, satisfaction and loyalty, and more consistent performance.

Kyle Davies is a chartered occupational psychologist, coach, and trainer. He is author of the recently published book, The Intelligent Body. For more information about Kyle and his work please visit,