Adventure and adaptability: Increase resilience in office workers with adventurous mental and physical training, recommend researchers
08/13/2018 // Rhonda Johansson // Views

A common mistake many managers make today is being too focused on hiring new people rather than concerning themselves in keeping the employees they already have. The error is understandable, as the constant need to push numbers and meet targets is always on their minds. Yet the consequence of such benevolent neglect is that many employees tend to feel like robots after a while and leave after only a brief stint in a specific company.

It was nice knowing you, and all that. Now give me my paycheck.

From a revenue point of view, losing employees too often is painfully expensive. Constantly having to train new people takes away from overall productivity and is estimated to cost companies billions of dollars each year. This is why more managers are being told to focus on building their employees’ resilience to ensure steady production.

One way to do this is by enrolling employees in some sort of adventurous training. A new study being presented to the British Psychological Society suggests that employees who participate in mentally and physically demanding adventurous training are often more resilient in their offices and are less likely to leave.

This is such a profoundly interesting study despite the fact that the tested participants were Regular and Reserve Army Officers working in office environments. The research team saw that those who went through an adventurous training activity lasting for at least five days within the previous nine months scored higher in resilience than those who did not. The training exercises included such activities as canoeing, freefall parachuting, and mountain biking. These sessions were also designed to develop qualities in the participants such as leadership and teamwork.


“Whilst care must be taken when generalising from Army staff to the civilian population, those taking part in the study were posted in an environment that is similar to many civilian offices, with less opportunity for staff to be taken out of their physical and mental comfort zones on a regular basis,” concludes Dr. Ann Bicknell who helped conduct the study.

Resilience is an attitude, and it can be developed

Building resilience in the contemporary work context can be done without resorting to paying your employees to jump off the building (with a parachute, of course). It is necessary to understand that stress, which the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the “global health epidemic of the 21st century,” is a contributing factor to how resilient office workers are.  

The new study implicates that office workers need a de-stressing activity – preferably one that forces them out of their 4x4 cubicle. An adventurous training activity may not be feasible for many companies, but there are simple tips that managers can use to help their employees be more resilient.

  • Employ mindfulness programs – Social psychologists have stated that mindfulness improves judgment accuracy as well as insight-related problem solving. Neuroscientists have likewise stated that companies that place an emphasis on mental health (particularly in engaging in mindfulness programs) have employees who are less likely to call in sick and are more likely to participate in work activities.
  • Compassion cultivation – Managers need to recognize that their employees are people. An often overlooked aspect of resilience is interpersonal relations. Employees are more likely to be resilient if there is a positive work environment and a feeling of compassion, cooperation, and collaboration.

Resilience is a part of the overall mental health of each employee. While many symptoms of a mental disturbance are not immediately obvious, their impact is highly tangible. Signs of depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety regularly affect an employee’s productivity.  

Sources include:

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