The greater an employee's coping skills, the higher their productivity and engagement levels, as well as their overall physical and mental health.
That's one of the conclusions drawn from the Your Life at Work survey that The Globe and Mail has been conducting over the past several months.
These findings support the notion that coping skills have an important role in predicting and promoting employees' health and wellness. Employers cannot develop employees' coping skills but they can remove barriers and obstacles that create unnecessary stress and strain for employees.
Each month, the Your Life at Work survey adds a new index that focuses on one theme that can influence employees' quality of work life. The subject of this month's index is self-esteem.
What is self-esteem?
It's the degree to which a person feels positive about their self-worth and value. It falls on a continuum from low to high; the higher one's self-esteem, the better they feel. Perception of self-esteem is strongly linked to emotions that influence mood.
The influential psychologist Albert Bandura coined the term "self-efficacy." This term refers to the degree to which one believes in their ability to obtain a defined outcome, such as the confidence they have in their capacity to have a successful day at work.
For example, Jack wakes up thinking about work and all that he must face throughout the day, such as resolving a conflict with his manager, production demands and timelines. If he thinks that he will get through the day successfully, he is experiencing positive self-efficacy.
How can self-efficacy be improved?
One approach is to develop coping skills. A person with strong coping skills will be in a better position to scan their environment and determine what knowledge and skills will help them to be successful if they choose to stay in that environment. Decision-making, problem-solving and self-management skills, along with emotional intelligence, are examples of the kinds of coping skills that can build an employee's confidence to figure out what to do to successfully face the challenges of their job.
One success formula for employees aligned with Dr. Bandura's thinking is: Self-Efficacy + Coping Skills = Self-Esteem.
Self-esteem is a byproduct of one's belief in their ability to obtain a result, and the confidence that they can cope with and manage responsibilities. This ultimately defines how much value a person will attach to themselves.
Relationships, jobs, health and money are common areas where people struggle. When a person perceives a gap in their ability to obtain their desired outcomes and does not know how to cope or gain the knowledge and skills required to be successful, they are likely to struggle with self-esteem.
Dr. Bandura suggested that people can develop self-efficacy by watching people in similar situations who are successful. This provides an opportunity to learn by observing. The more confidence we have in our skills and the ability the more likely we will develop a positive self-esteem.
Here are a few tips for improving your self-esteem:
Complete our self-esteem screen, which you will find at the end of our Your Life at Work Survey.
Accept responsibility for your thinking.
Practise smiling. Smiling positively influences mood.
Be open to learning about yourself by taking risks and engaging in conversations that promote self-discovery.
Find a passion, whether a hobby, sport or volunteer activity, and schedule time to enjoy it.
Set realistic expectations. This does not mean settling for less; it means learning how to objectively adjust expectations.
Strive to become who you want to be, not who others want you to be.
Practise finding something positive in each day, and acknowledge your role in that.
If you continue to feel you are failing, get the support you need to get on track.
Keep moving. Bodies in motion, whether through structured exercise, gardening, or even walking a pet, are more likely to be healthy and happy.
Bill Howatt (@billhowatt) is president of Howatt Consulting in Kentville, N.S.