Dr Wolfgang Seidl
Dr Wolfgang Seidl
Partner and Leader of Workplace Health Consulting, Mercer Marsh Benefits


In a discussion about mental health and how to care for our own and other people’s, what do we mean by resilience? Well, it is not about ‘putting up and shutting up’ or maintaining a stiff upper lip. Instead, we are talking about flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to cope with troubles – qualities that so many of us had to dig deep to find in ourselves during the pandemic.


It is important to recognise that resilience is a mindset we can develop. But some people seem to have a head start in that respect, and it is useful to look at the characteristics that help them deal with difficulties and bounce back. I call them the four Cs.


  • Showing commitment to a cause, rather than alienation from the world around you. Whether it is your job or something else – charity or conservation work or a sport or hobby – commitment provides purpose, drive, and interest in wider society; a reason to get up in the morning
  • Treating change as a challenge to rise to, rather than a threat that could bring you down. This is about cultivating a positive perspective and not being cowed by fear of the unknown.
  • Taking control of a difficult situation in some way, rather than giving in to a sense of powerlessness. Again, the feeling that you can influence outcomes, even in a small way, can feed into a stronger, more positive mindset.
    There’s good scientific evidence to show that if we feel we have control, we are less likely to become stressed. For instance, research shows that empathetic managers who allow staff some say over their workflow tend to have a less stressed and more productive workforce.
  • Developing a sense of community, as opposed to feeling disaffected and isolated. We’ve all seen examples where the whole outcome is greater than the sum of the parts, and that applies in spades where mutual support and teamwork are concerned.

Community extends into the heart of working life. In 2021 I co-authored a paper with Business in the Community that explored the idea of how your job can be good for you, in which we found (among many other things) that a ‘good’ workplace allows people to play to their strengths and work together to co-create things. When people can ‘bring their whole selves’ to work, they tend to be happier and more resilient in the face of adversity.


These attitudes make an enormous difference to people’s capacity to cope with stress and anxiety, whether it is rooted in personal, work-related, or global concerns. But they are not exclusive to particular types of persons – they can be learnt and cultivated by anyone, and the aim of our online mental health awareness course is to give managers and their workforces the tools they need to do just that.


The first module in our digital workplace mental health training course not only explores what mental wellbeing looks like, but also provides a range of practical techniques to help protect against stress by building personal resilience, small steps at a time. 

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