What business can learn from the SAS!

What business can learn from the SAS!
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Read this blog exploring the link between emotions, engagement and stress management.

A colleague heard the Chief Medical Officer for the SAS at a recent conference say that, what we have in the SAS is “love for each other” and it struck us both, when would you ever hear this type of comment in the Board Room? How many law firms managers or partners would say this of each other? Advertisers know that emotional responses are around four times more powerful than rational ones and can therefore drive buying decisions, yet how many of us are willing to recognise and talk about emotions at work? Though many of us realise emotional engagement could be far more powerful than rational engagement, putting emotional intelligence – or more radically “Love” – on the agenda at a Board meeting would, I imagine, be controversial.

I would like to throw the challenge out to UK businesses: Is the way we are working, really working? Isn’t it time to recognise and work with the emotions of our Leaders and workforce in order to build true long term resilience, engagement and health? And so to the link with stress management. We deal with stress management reactively rather than proactively.

Hogan Lovell announced on 13 September in the Lawyer that they will be reviewing stress management in the wake of a partner’s suicide. The Firm’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Carolyn Lee said, “Many corporations shy away from the topic of stress because they don’t want to be perceived as a stressful place to work”. To manage stress in the workplace it is necessary to understand that it is not just the situation that causes our stress responses it is the emotional importance we assign to an event or situation.

If companies really want powerful and sustainable stress relief then they must build the emotional resilience of the workforce. We must treat the causes of stress not just the symptoms in order to achieve sustainable long term effectiveness.

In recent years, the “go-to” strategy to deal with the economic challenges has been cost cutting and process efficiency – which often equates to asking more for less from our employees. It is no wonder that this often leads to low engagement, poor health and absenteeism. One of the most important assets in any organisation is the people – yet how many leaders honestly ask, “How do we really create a resilient workforce?” If organisations could take a fresh approach – work with their people to help them feel valued rather than lucky to have a job – what difference would that make? How resilient would the workforce become and how much might this raise engagement and consequently productivity?

My personal view is that, as a nation, we cannot afford to ignore this for much longer. Stress is inevitable. Yet it is the effective and systematic management of stress that will set apart those people and organisations who can succeed in life.

It is my number 1 belief that there must be more than a shift in mindset. The ability to shift the emotional response to stress is the key is to stopping the damaging effects stress can have on your body. By harnessing this control we can keep our workforce in a place of performance rather than stand helplessly by as they crash exhausted and burned out!

Resilient Dynamism “Today we live in the most complex interdependent era in human history. We are increasingly being confronted by major challenges and transformational opportunities. The new leadership context requires successful organisations to master strategic agility and build risk resilience” Klaus Schwab — Davos,Switzerland 2013

We are at a point where we can view stress management from a place of transformational opportunity rather than reactive problem solving. The only way to do this is to work with the drivers of stress, and that takes a willingness and readiness to get to the heart of the matter on an emotional level.