Developing better coping skills and resiliency can improve employee health

By The IJ Staff | August 25 2017 01:30PM

Photo: Freepik

Developing better coping skills and resilience in the workplace can improve the health of employees, new research conducted by Morneau Shepell has found.

The company’s findings are detailed in the whitepaper called Why supporting employees to develop their coping skills and resiliency is good business by Dr. Bill Howatt, chief research and development officer for workforce productivity at Morneau Shepell. It focuses on “cognitive hygiene”, which is the ability to manage negative thinking, which allows for maintaining problem-solving and decision-making abilities by keeping negative thinking from harming the individual’s mental health.

Sustainable daily actions

Morneau Shepell found nearly 30 per cent of the population can benefit from such mental development. Dr. Howatt divided successful cognitive hygiene into two elements, which are developmental coping skills and sustainable daily actions.

Dr. Howatt says developmental coping skills give insight to individuals on the way they think, to then train them to improve problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Sustainability coping skills include practicing mindfulness, or learning to manage moods.

Practicing effective cognitive hygiene

"To put it in everyday terms, practicing effective cognitive hygiene follows the same key elements of a healthy oral hygiene regime," says Howatt. "The success of both is dependent on daily practices and actions. Oral hygiene starts with the developmental skills of learning how to brush and floss teeth correctly and the sustainability skills of brushing after each meal and flossing each day. Comparatively, cognitive hygiene requires developmental coping skills such as insight into emotions, followed by sustainability coping skills, which involve the daily actions one takes to avoid negative, unwanted thoughts."

The stressors of everyday life

The whitepaper says good cognitive hygiene is important in the workplace due to the many potential sources of stress which could harm individuals’ mental health. With good cognitive hygiene in the workplace, organizations will benefit from a reduction in turnover rates and conflicts, as well as increased productivity. "Managing coping skills and resilience development are not static – they continually need to be practiced to effectively take on the stressors of everyday life," says Howatt.