Cultivating Resiliency

Functional HR: 5 Surefire Ways to Boost Retention, Part 2

BY: Keith Kawasaki, VP of Client Services & Contract Management

In Demystifying Career Development, we looked at the role of making career paths clear and attainable for employees. Today, let’s explore how you can help keep them happy and healthy along the way with Solution No. 2.

Cultivating Resiliency

The second most common reason people leave their jobs is a lack of work/life balance, which directly relates to the reason that’s fourth most common: resiliency.

For a healthy work/life balance and to maintain resilience, your teams can activate skills and resources to endure stressful seasons of life, both professionally and personally. And the importance of personal resilience cannot be overlooked.

Decades of work with the military will tell you the same as it did us: You recruit the Soldier, you retain the family. Meaning: If you can keep the Soldier’s family satisfied and informed, you are more likely to retain the Soldier, as they then have the stability and support on the homefront.

In corporate terms, if your employee is equipped and able to enjoy a healthy life outside the office, they’ll be more reliable and focused at work.

So how do you, as an employer, help your employees with resilience? Our clients have enabled us to work hand-in-hand with the U.S. Army’s Master Resiliency Trainers and medical professionals in the creation of programs to boost resiliency in service members and their families as they endured wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and dozens of homeland emergencies.

Let’s take a look at the Army’s perspective on resiliency. The Army’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) Model focuses on “Five Dimensions of Strength,” which include physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family. (Information is courtesy of Army Regulation 350–53.)

  • Physical. Performing and excelling in physical activities that require aerobic fitness, endurance, strength, healthy body composition and flexibility derived through exercise, nutrition and training describes the physical dimension. The physical dimension also encompasses the Office of the Surgeon General Performance Triad initiative of sleep, activity, and nutrition to improve personal and unit performance, resilience, and readiness. The physical dimension of CSF2 focuses on the development of a comprehensive approach to assessing physical health, and to educate the force on the important connection between physical and psychological health, while providing the knowledge and skills to improve it.

  • Emotional. Approaching life’s challenges in a positive, optimistic way by demonstrating self-control, stamina, and good character with your choices and actions. Regardless of one’s role in the Army, whether Soldier, Family member, or DAC, the challenges our community regularly face can potentially erode one’s emotional control. Because emotions drive how we approach challenges and problem solving, emotional control is critical to the development and sustainment of resilience and psychological health. Resilience in Soldiers helps prevent moral injuries in the complex environment of combat. The GAT assesses one’s ability to approach life’s challenges in a positive, optimistic way and to demonstrate self-control, stamina, and good character in choices and actions.

  • Social. Developing and maintaining trusted, valued relationships and friendships that are personally fulfilling and foster good communication, including a comfortable exchange of ideas, views and experiences. Adherence to the Army Values and other beliefs embodied in the Army profession and ethics help form and strengthen bonds of trust and esprit de corps that promote relationships and enhance resilience. These relationships are important because they serve as a support network for those who experience setbacks in life. Training provided by CSF2 is designed to help Soldiers, DACs, and Family members develop quality relationships that will endure and be available when needed.

  • Spiritual. Identifying one’s purpose, core values, beliefs, identity and life vision define the spiritual dimension. These elements, which define the essence of a person, enable one to build inner strength, make meaning of experiences, behave ethically, persevere through challenges, and be resilient when faced with adversity. An individual’s spirituality draws upon personal, philosophical, psychological, and/or religious teachings or beliefs, and forms the basis of their character.

  • Family. A nurturing Family unit is one that is safe, supportive, loving, and provides the resources needed for all members to live in a healthy and secure environment. Regardless of how a person defines his or her Family, it is often their primary source of support. A dysfunctional Family dynamic can result in personal distraction and degraded performance. CSF2 training provides tools with which Soldiers, DACs, and Family members can address issues at home that might otherwise escalate into an unnecessarily stressful and potentially adverse situation. CSF2 training is designed to help change outlooks, improving empathy as well as the ability to downgrade conflicts into more manageable situations.

We were surprised to find how helpful these principles crafted by the U.S. Army can be for daily life and, in turn, how applicable solutions can be across industries. After all, the Work Institute declares 77 percent of turnover is preventable.

Avoid the black hole.

In service-based organizations, the pull to be “always on”—to please demands of clients and audiences—will have your entire team losing themselves in the work before you even realize it’s happened (and it’s likely you’re in that same hole, too). It’s important for leadership to have a frank conversation with itself and understand that people have a finite reserve of power. That power needs replenishing when it runs low. And replenishing often comes from time spent in healthy, personal activities away from work. Leaders, I sympathize, but it pushes you to look at the work ahead as a chess board, planning your resourcing four or five moves ahead at all times. And you set the pace. Leaders must show a healthy work/life balance. As a retired sergeant once told me, “Your job is what you do; it is not who you are.”

Remote work is a popular solution, but I’d caution against implementing a casual work-from-home policy just to check that box. Be mindful of the pros and cons and the nuances of your company culture. What works for some certainly doesn’t work for all. (Harvard Business Review has explored remote work policies from several angles.) Give yourself the wiggle room to rally the troops when you need to, as you’ll undoubtedly experience seasons of high demand. How your team succeeds during these upticks brings us to the next solution (see No. 2 below).

Create content marketing by curating content from credentialed resources that educates and empowers employees when it comes to resilience. (Your insurance provider can help with this). Resilience can encompass physical, mental, spiritual and financial health. Boost awareness with internal emails, posters, credentialed guest speakers, etc. Be sure to tag a disclaimer for employees to consult their physicians before starting a diet or exercise regimen (or any kind of similar lifestyle change). 

Create a lasting impression.

A flagship printed publication can touch on each resilience area with how-to editorial, personal success stories and expert analysis for an immediately useful experience with a lasting shelf life, but it also enables integrated marketing to tie in website downloads, social videos, etc. Mail the publication to your employees’ home addresses to ensure delivery, family visibility and downtime accessibility. 

Scale as you see fit for your organization: Keep it all digital or create a mix of print and digital.

And set realistic production goals. Consistency and quality are vital to employees seeing value. The publication’s frequency matters less than its reliability and functional value (for more on creating truly effective content marketing, check out our Field Guide to Functional Content Marketing. Track your success by comparing engagement data with turnover.

In your content, promote your organization’s employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP can be glossed over in HR briefings and could use your support to keep it top of mind. Not surprisingly, an organization can cram a great deal of information into EAP communications. Our digital team has been tapped by providers to streamline the UX/UI of EAP sites. A few smart moves with the architecture can expedite help to employees in crisis—which is the point, right?

Kickstart physical health campaigns.  

This is fun, low-hanging fruit. If a person physically feels stronger, their mental state often follows suit. Get the family involved with a tiered program that starts with collective step-counting matched by employer donations to a local charity. That’s tier 1. For tier 2, set milestones for training for a fun run that’s scheduled far enough in advance to create buzz. Tier 3: Hit that fun run hard. Invest in it being more of an employee/family picnic than just a run.

Next in POV: As you’re working to cultivate a culture of physical and emotional resiliency, where do you go from here? Check back next week or get your own copy of Functional HR: 5 Surefire Ways to Boost Retention here.

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Keith Kawasaki is iostudio’s VP of Client Services & Contract Management. With more than 15 years developing HR marketing programs and leading integrated teams, Keith has brought innovative solutions to the Army, Navy, Marines Corps, UPS and McKesson, among others. Keith is an active member of the Content Council, SOCAP and the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. Contact Keith at 615-724-4202 or keith.kawasaki@iostudio.com. Follow @keith_kawasaki on Twitter.