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Report: Resilience to stress can be learnt


Today's Stress Awareness Day should be rebranded Resilience Awareness Day in order to focus attention less on the symptoms and more on potential cures for the now widespread malaise, according to an HR services firm.
Kevin Friery, clinical director of Right Management's Right CoreCare business, said that staff today were stressed about two key things – fear over keeping their jobs and anxiety over being able to cope with the higher demands and fewer resources provided by their employers.
But there was now much evidence to suggest that one of the most effective ways of minimising stress was to build resilience. "Resilience is a pre-emptive strike against stress. Rather than waiting for it and seeking a cure, it looks at the situations that are more likely to create stress and prepares the individual, building a skillset that makes situations more manageable and stress less likely," Friery said.
While people had believed for many years that stress was linked to personality type, it was now proven that being able to demonstrate resilience was in fact a 'learned package of skills' that could be taught to the majority at any stage of life, he added.
As a result, rather than focusing on 'stress awareness', UK Plc should be encouraged to look at 'resilience awareness' and to consider just how resilient an organisations and its individual workers were.
"In times of pressure, being aware of resilience skills and applying them effectively is the best way of managing. Stress brings people and organisations to their knees. Resilience helps them thrive. Simple choice really." Friery said.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), just over a third of employers have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year, with the situation particularly marked in the public sector.
Here 73% of manual and 79% of non-manual workers indicate that stress is among the top five reasons for not attending work compared with a national average of 51% and 63% respectively. The figures fall to 61% and 68% respectively in the third sector, 35% and 50% in manufacturing and production industries and 48% and 60% in private sector services.
The report entitled 'Absence Survey' also revealed that the median cost of absence across all sectors was £600 per employee per year, rising to £889 in the public sector where staff took off 9.6 days per employee per year compared with a national average of 6.6 days.

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