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Toxic resilience is the latest worrying workplace trend. Here’s what you need to know

Employees may sometimes relegate their needs to second place for the sake of the company but that can have adverse consequences.
Employees may sometimes relegate their needs to second place for the sake of the company but that can have adverse consequences.   -  Copyright  Canva

By Dara Flynn

The ability to cultivate resilience is not only a necessary life skill but one that is highly valued in professional circles.

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That’s according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report which found that resilience, flexibility, and agility are essential within the workplace and seen as highly desirable soft skills by employers.

Being stoic is one thing, but what happens when workers start relegating their personal needs to second place for the sake of the business and benchmark themselves against unreasonable parameters?

Enter toxic resilience, an insidious trend that has infiltrated the workplace and is leading to increased levels of burnout, particularly among female employees.

Grind culture

In workplaces that carry a grind culture, toxic resilience can thrive and could be in part due to years of toxic positivity and a “roll with the punches” attitude that’s communicated by HR, management or simply through a company’s core image. It can have many side effects.

Anxiety, depression, under-performance, hopelessness, detachment and isolation are common emotions felt among the toxically overstretched. A global survey of 22,000 Gen Z and Millennial workers in 44 countries found that nearly half feel stressed or anxious all or most of the time.

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What’s more, women are more likely to suffer given the increased demands placed on them by still-unequal domestic workloads and the “motherhood penalty”.

And while remote working helps resolve certain work-life balance issues, it is remote workers who are most at risk of a sense of isolation, particularly in the absence of a wellbeing-oriented, communicative management or HR structure.

Toxic resilience is a top-down issue

The panacea isn’t all in the hands of the sufferer, who may be encouraged to focus on improving their mental health through lifestyle changes such as yoga or a Betterhelp subscription. Many argue that management has to do its bit.

Managers who practise toxic resilience themselves can set an example and normalise it for the lower ranks. HR departments also could be better equipped to recognise when a star performer is drowning..

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