Blog - Resilience and workplace wellness

Landscape of lush green and red cacti and succulentsHere in Christchurch we can all get a bit cynical about the word ‘resilience’ as it has been used so much in the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. However, we are all still much in need of resilience to cope with the challenges of a rebuilt city with a change in how the city looks, where we can find places, where to find spaces to park, how to get through the city with the multitude of road works which are aiming to convert our city into an accessible one, and increased driving times for many people who have relocated to newer areas north and south of the city. There are also still people waiting for insurance claims on their properties to be settled 6 years after the event. Yes, that takes a lot of resilience.

So when a talk by Dr Lucy Hone on Workplace Wellness and Resilience, was advertised by the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, I felt I had to go, as healthy work environments are my passion.

Lucy Hone completed Martin Seligman’s Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) programme at the University of Pennsylvania (the international home of wellbeing science) in 2003. She has recently completed her PhD through AUT University’s Human Potential Centre where her work focused on ways to effectively apply the findings of wellbeing research to promote mass market wellbeing in real world contexts. So, what she was bringing to the packed audience was not just about what does ‘resilience’ mean, but also what is the science behind positive psychology and does it really work.

Martin Seligman is the founder of the Positive Psychology movement and has kept evolving his practice in this area, with many research projects. His 2011 book “Flourish, a new understanding of happiness, wellbeing and how to achieve them”, has many examples of where he has used his theories of positive psychology successfully, ranging from schools, universities, the US army and workplaces. This book is well worth a read if you want to apply some of this knowledge.

He developed the PERMA model which I would encourage your to read about if resilience interests you.  All of these models are based on sound research so if we want to help increase our resilience, which is done most effectively by increasing our happiness, then we need to sit up and take note and think about how we can apply these principles.

Following on from this research, and touched on by Lucy Hone, is the use of the Five Ways of Wellbeing which most Cantabrians will be familiar with through the use of the “It’s Alright to..” campaign seen on billboards, and posters throughout the region over the last five years. These are also based on research completed in the UK in 2009 and follow similar trends to the PERMA model. These constant small reminders of how we can make our lives and the lives of those around us in our communities and workplaces is a  very effective way of helping to increase everyone’s happiness and in turn, health and resilience.

So, congratulations to the Chamber of Commerce in getting Lucy Hone along to talk to its members. Further talks are planned – I look forward to hearing these and would encourage you to keep your eye for similar talks for your own interest