12. September 2023

Why is everyone talking about… toxic resilience?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 2

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional.

This week after it was found that British employees are the least likely to rate work as important to them, we’re covering the idea of toxic resilience.

What you need to know

Toxic resilience refers to the idea that we should continue to work at a constant level of 100%, even in the face of frequently stressful circumstances. It’s the problem child of toxic positivity and resilience.

It’s been a season of economic uncertainty and layoffs, particularly in tech where nearly 100,000 people have lost their jobs since January. Whether people are in the firing line or not, they often feel expected to work at maximum capacity to keep their jobs safe. Unsurprisingly, nearly half of Gen Zs and millennials feel stressed/anxious all or most of the time.

Is it right that we expect those affected by upcoming redundancies, or those worried they’ll be next, to just… power on to the point of burnout?

What others are saying about it 

Bruce Daisley, a workplace culture consultant, writer and recent guest on our podcast, told his followers on X

“Resilience and everything we’re told about resilience is a toxic myth[...] It's a brilliant re-frame because what it effectively does is it says to all of these authorities, ‘it's not something we're doing wrong: it's something wrong with you and we need to get that fixed [by building this resiliency]’”.

What that means for you

It is up to organisations, not individuals, to build an environment where healthy resilience can bloom — and where toxic resilience is actively discouraged. We need to be honest about the fact that stressful events have a detrimental impact on our ability to focus, and it is not up to individuals to keep firing on all cylinders until the point of exhaustion.

Acknowledging the emotional toll is key here, along with reassuring people that their jobs are not at risk (where you can be sure that is the case). It’s also imperative that you offer practical support to those who have been impacted by layoffs and other highly stressful events — such as severance pay, outplacement services and continued access to mental health support.

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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Hannah Popham

Hannah Popham

Hannah is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Personio. She loves writing about the ever-changing ways that we work and how they intersect with our lives outside work.

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