Resilience in the workplace is incredibly important, especially if your workplace is fast-paced and high-stress. Now more than ever, resilience is key to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. 

With so much uncertainty in the world, building resilience will positively affect you, your family, and your colleagues. Building personal resilience will help you manage stress, improve your mental health, and provide you with the ability to bounce back after challenges or setbacks. 

The thing is, we begin building resilience skills as children, and many of us have simply forgotten these key lessons. Kindergarten isn’t all about playtime after all – it’s about cultivating resilience and learning good habits that support us through childhood and well into adulthood!

If you’re not on your A-game these days, you’re not alone! Many people are facing more workplace stress than usual, and everyday workplace stressors are having a negative impact on employees in numerous industries. The good news is, you built these skills years ago in your early kindergarten days, and you can bring them back today to build long-term resilience in the workplace.

What is resilience? 

Before we dig into the key lessons learned in kindergarten, understanding resilience is important. A resilient mindset is multifaceted, but the recipe for resilience is quite simple. Add equal parts tenacity and adaptability with a big scoop of perseverance.  Mix it all together and you have resilience! 

A resilient employee can experience setbacks and challenges without experiencing severe, unmanageable stress or trauma. In fact, a resilient person can thrive when experiencing challenges at work. How a person handles a stressful work environment can provide insight into their resiliency. When it comes to managing workplace stress, resilience is an important strategy that is too often overlooked! Resilience will help employees tackle stress, manage conflict, and prevent burnout. 

Why do you need resilience in the workplace?

If all is well at work, and things are business as usual, resilience skills may not feel that important. But how often is that the case? Probably not that often! When you encounter work-related stressors often, your morale can be deeply affected. You may find yourself daydreaming about moving to Tahiti or winning the lottery and looking for a quick escape out of this constant state of stress. I hear you, and you’re not alone! 

When workplace issues seem constant with no end in sight, it affects you and your team negatively. Frustration is common in the workplace, serious traumatic incidents like a reduction in force, can cripple your motivation. But this is where resilience becomes incredibly important.

Do you manage conflict in the workplace well? Find out when you take this 15-question self assessment. →

Resilience is important for many reasons. First and foremost, it improves job satisfaction, workplace happiness, and ultimately, reduces the likelihood of you quitting and moving to Tahiti! In other words, resiliency in the workplace is incredibly important because it improves employee retention. Resilience will:

  • Improve your mental health
  • Provide a sense of control over your environment
  • Increase engagement, motivation, and, most importantly, self-confidence 

I’m sure we all agree that resilience training is important. But the best part is, it doesn’t have to be complicated! You learned these five lessons in kindergarten, so let’s bring them back and apply it to the workplace today.

Lesson #1: Learn from your mistakes.

In Kindergarten, almost everything is new! New friends, new teachers, new activities. You are bound to make mistakes! But one key aspect of kindergarten is that mistakes are okay—you learn the lesson and move on! 

Resilient employees learn from their mistakes. They try new things to overcome unique challenges and understand that everything may not work out perfectly every single time. Employees who earn from their mistakes reduce friction and conflict in the future. By learning from your mistakes, you develop a more resilient mindset and become a more well-rounded employee with mental agility that will serve you for years to come.

Lesson #2: Make friends (a.k.a. build a strong network).

In kindergarten, one of the main items on the agenda is to make friends, build a social support network, and learn valuable social skills. In the classroom, you’re placed in a setting with 15-20 brand new people from all different backgrounds. As a child, you learn to interact effectively and build lasting friendships. Resilient people build strong networks. By building a strong network, you are more likely to feel supported and have more resources available if/when you run into challenges or setbacks at work. Sometimes, all it takes is a second opinion to navigate a unique problem at work or advice from a friend who has been through something similar.

At the end of the day, the lesson here is to get out there and make some friends! It will help you become more resilient at work (and have some fun while you’re at it).

Lesson #3: Time out (a.k.a. take time to reflect).

You may have hated time-out in kindergarten. But the truth is, time-outs are an important part of the kindergarten experience. They helps children take a step back from the situation, rest, and prepare for the new lessons ahead. 

In kindergarten, time-outs are scheduled strategically throughout the day—there’s recess, lunchtime, and even nap time. These breaks from activity are incredibly important in school but are completely underrated in the workplace today!

Balancing your time at work to include breaks that allow you to detach from your work can promote: 

  • An increase in energy
  • Improved mental clarity
  • Better focus
  • Innovation and creativity

Ultimately, effective breaks allow us to become more resilient throughout the course of the workday.

The best time to take breaks is mid-morning, according to a study conducted by Emily Hunter, Ph.D., and Cindy Wu, Ph.D., associate professors in management at the Hankamer School of Business. This study revealed that employees who take effective breaks experienced increase job satisfaction and were less likely to experience burnout.

Lesson #4: Sharing is caring (a.k.a. cultivate compassion).

Remember the phrase “sharing is caring?” This is a huge theme in kindergarten and an important lesson in the workplace, too! Cultivating a sense of compassion in the workplace will improve your stress-response. When you are compassionate, willing to share knowledge and resources and work with your colleagues as a cohesive team, you will achieve significant results together. Work environments that promote resilience are more focused on the collective and less focused on individual gain.

Lesson #5: Nobody likes a whiner (a.k.a. be positive!).

We were all whiners at one point. I’m sure we’ve all had our moments in kindergarten and were told (likely by our parents) to stop whining. This lesson is one we tend to lose sight of when the going gets tough in adulthood. 

A positive mindset creates more resilience in the workplace because you begin to focus more on what is going well than what is going wrong. This mindset shift reduces unnecessary stress and feelings of overwhelm. If you’re struggling with this, take an audit throughout the day and create a list of all the things that have gone well. It may be more than you realized.

You are bound to face adversity in the workplace at some point. You may be experiencing it now more than ever. As you can tell by taking a quick look at LinkedIn, resilience is a trending topic due to rising stress levels in the workplace. That being said, there is nothing too complicated about building resilience in the workplace—these 5 lessons from kindergarten are a great place to start.


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