Although many things are uncertain as we return to work, one thing we can be sure of is that we are going to continue to need our resilience in 2022.
At work, people are reporting feeling undervalued and low in belonging, which has huge implications for motivation, engagement and inclusion, the latter being especially significant given that diverse groups including women, LGBT+ and people of colour are more likely to experience significant challenges during the pandemic.
In the advertising industry, 32% of black people, 27% of Asian people and 22% of people with a disability are likely to leave due to lack of inclusivity versus 10% of their white, able-bodied counterparts.
With all of this in mind, how can we maintain our resilience in 2022 and use this as a springboard to achieving more motivation, increased engagement and greater belonging?
According to Arianna Huffington, we need to upgrade our resilience to "Resilience +", which enables us not only to cope and bounce back from adversity but also to grow and to flourish.
An essential route to accessing this upgrade is through understanding and applying our very own superpowers – our character strengths.
Character strengths are the ones that boost ourselves and others; the ones that help us to shine a light onto the world. It’s the very best of yourself and possibly how you’d like to be remembered by others after you’ve gone.
A great way to build resilience for this year is to identify your character strengths and reflect on how and where you can use them to maximum effect.
Various studies in positive psychology have shown the immense benefits of using character strengths.
They can help you and others to cope with incoming challenges and can also increase feelings of wellbeing (which is what we’re all about at Nabs), energy and feelings of connection with others. Align your strengths with your work in particular, and you’ll start to thrive both in terms of your motivation and your output.
Knowing what’s best about yourself, and those in your teams is essential, and especially so during times of crisis and uncertainty. To paraphrase a leading fitness watch manufacturer, we need to start asking: "What’s strong with us?"
I love working with strengths. Being aware of what we and others do best is at the heart of positive psychology and, as a positive psychology practitioner, I have witnessed first-hand how a strengths-based approach motivates people to achieve in the toughest circumstances. I’ve seen how recognising the inherent strengths of other people can improve relationships and encourage people to feel valued and included.
Encouraging people to think "strengths first" also creates the opportunity for a common language that celebrates and encourages diversity while transcending any cultural biases.
So how to identify our strengths? There are many tools on the market. As a practitioner, I particularly like the VIA survey of character strengths, which is free to use and scientifically validated. Its methodology takes you through a simple process of identifying all of your strengths, exploring your top strengths in more detail and then applying them practically in a work context.
The last step is a particularly interesting and useful exercise for the start of the year. A great way to set out where to put your strengths into action is to complete an audit of work responsibilities and align strengths with them to experience greater engagement, motivation and performance.
You can also walk your team members through this, remembering to celebrate and appreciate their strengths to boost their mood for a positive new year (and with low mood and anxiety high in the industry, according to Nabs’ statistics, this could be a game-changing exercise for your people).
If you’re feeling less resilient, disconnected, lacking in motivation or perhaps low in belonging, acquiring a practical knowledge of your inner strengths will give you the necessary supercharge to thrive at work. If you are an employer, encouraging a strengths culture will go a long way to enabling people to feel more valued and more included, both of which have been shown to be essential to work productivity and retention of people.
Find out what’s strong with you and what’s strong with your teams, and you’ll soon find the resilience we all need to support our wellbeing this year.
Mike Lennon is a training consultant at Nabs