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The concept of resiliency is now being promoted as a skill that can help employees deal with the demands of their workplace.

What many don’t know is resiliency is not a trait a person has. It’s a trainable skill. Regardless of an employee’s effort to build their resiliency, their experiences with their team and leadership can have a positive or negative impact. Maximizing their resiliency requires commitment and effort by both them and their employer.

One line of research suggests that resiliency is just one piece of the pie for helping employees maximize their psychological health in the workplace. Psychological capital (PsyCap) was defined by Fred Luthans and his associates as having four elements: hope, self-efficacy, resiliency and optimism (HERO). The authors suggested the higher a person’s HERO score (the sum of the four elements), the higher the probability they would have increased job satisfaction and productivity and less risk for disability and lost time owing to stress-related causes.

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Employers can play a major role in supporting employees’ PsyCap by the programs they offer and their commitment to promoting and protecting employees’ psychological health and safety.

Researchers such as Mr. Luthans demonstrated that employers who support employees to improve their HERO score not only influenced their job satisfaction but also their life satisfaction through better personal relationships and lower body mass index and cholesterol.

Employees can also directly affect their HERO score by exploring what they can do with respect to each of the four elements.

The first step is to become aware of what the element is so that you can understand the synergy the four elements can have in influencing psychological health.

  • Hope – The level of hope a person has is dependent on the degree they can see a clear pathway to a desired outcome and are motivated to act.
  • Self-efficacy – The level one believes in their knowledge and skills to achieve an outcome. This influences their level of confidence to attempt to overcome a challenge.
  • Resiliency – A person’s ability to push forward when faced with a challenge, or how quickly they can bounce back from a failure.
  • Optimism – A person’s belief that good things will happen in both the good and hard times.


People can learn about and develop their PsyCap, but it requires effort, results and time.

Consider the kind of effort an Olympic athlete puts forth to improve their results by a fraction of 1 per cent. The lesson here is that nothing just happens because we want it to happen. It happens because we take charge of what we can control, make a commitment, focus and follow a plan.

As hard as it is may be to process based on how you’re feeling now, you’re accountable for your own mental health. Your environment and life circumstances can play a major role in influencing your emotional state.

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Regardless of what your employer does to support your PsyCap, there are things you can do to improve your situation.


Building your PsyCap is a personal journey and can sometimes be a bumpy one that requires making decisions, such as picking a new environment, making new friends and changing lifestyle choices.

  • Be clear and aware – Learn what each HERO element is. Review the links provided with this article to explore each, and do your own research. This will help you become clear that your awareness, accountability and action are related to your PsyCap, regardless of what you may be doing to support your psychological health.
  • Recognize PsyCap supports – Identify your core support systems at work and at home that provide you with encouragement and support. Pick your top two supporters and how you believe they support you in each of the four HERO elements. This can reinforce what you have in place today.
  • Assess PsyCap drains – Focus on what you believe are your biggest energy drains for each of the four HERO elements – whether people-related, work, career, financial or health. Evaluate what options you have to remove some drains, what kind of support you would need to get help to remove them and who you can get support from. This focus can spark the kinds of decisions and actions you can take to support your PsyCap.
  • Build your mental fitness plan – Most people don’t have a plan that facilitates mental fitness practice. A mental fitness plan is what you’ll do to improve your psychological health. Each of the HERO elements is a microskill that can be developed individually. The key to building a mental fitness plan is defining what you’ll do, how you’ll do it and how you’ll measure it.

The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and total well-being of their employees first. Register for the 2020 Employee Recommended Workplace Award at: This series of articles supports the award.

Read about the 2019 winners of the award and watch a video from the winners here. You can also purchase the benchmark report that outlines findings from 2019 at this link.

Bill Howatt is the founder of Howatt HR Consulting and a co-creator of the Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

You can find other stories like these at

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