Professor Peter Clough, Professor of Applied Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University and a pioneer on research into Mental Toughness describes a mentally tough person as “someone who is comfortable in their own skin, can take whatever comes along in their stride and mostly enjoy the challenge.”

Increasingly however, in many Australian businesses, mental toughness seems to be in short supply. We’ve noticed that clients are struggling to deal with team members who share that they are ‘stressed’, unable to focus due to non- related work problems or are struggling to be at work (or return to work) due to mental health issues.

So how are you meant to respond?

A wise mentor once told me as that there is a big difference between performance coaching and personal counselling – don’t mix the two!

While your Managers may be well-meaning in providing advice from personal experience, or hoping that the problem will all go away if they talk about the Footy at the weekend, there are more practical and inherently helpful things you can do. To handle these kinds of issues in the workplace, we recommend considering the following ideas:

1. Build Capability in your Management and Supervisor team to respond appropriately
Organise Managers and Supervisors to attend a Mental Health First Aid course. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches people the skills to help someone who they are concerned about.

2. Develop a Recover@Work Program that includes Employee Assistance Programs
Ensure you have a trained Return to Work Coordinator, develop a Recover@Work Program and partner with a workplace consulting expert to assist you manage the wellbeing of your workforce. Employee Assistance Programs are a cost-effective way for all businesses to provide confidential assistance to employees.

3. Recruit a resilient workforce
Recruit people who respond well to challenges, stress and pressure. Include ‘mental toughness’ and ‘resilience’ as attributes in your position/person specifications and modify your recruitment processes to select staff who respond well to challenges, stress and pressure, irrespective of their circumstance.

Mentally tough people aren’t typically more talented or more intelligent — they are just more consistent. Mentally tough people develop ways to focus on the important stuff despite what life throws at them.

As a personality trait, mental toughness determines an employee’s ability to perform consistently under stress and pressure and is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, grit and perseverance.

Importantly for the workplace, mental toughness can be measured.

That’s why the Worthwhile Human Resource Advisory Team are participating in training next month to become an Accredited Mental Toughness Partner. Our accreditation will allow us to provide you with a simple, cost-effective and well-validated online psychometric measure called MTQ48 to help you select candidates who are mentally tough and comfortable in their own skin.

To find out more contact Julie Wahba, our Workplace, Health & Safety Controller
Phone: +61 2 9411 4649