Why Resiliency is not Enough

Maui Coast

The discussion of preventing or alleviating burnout has two major themes: improving the workplace or improving resiliency.

Strategies for improving resiliency work from the idea that people can increase their capacity to tolerate difficult circumstances. They can learn even to thrive in situations that were previously hard to bear.

The complementary strategy is improving the situation. By enriching the balance of resources to demands in a worksetting, an organization can evolve from aggravating burnout to actively promoting engagement.

The strategies help one another: enriched environments contribute to employees’ resiliency that in turn increases employees’ capacity to enrich their work environment. Strains arise when the balance between these strategies becomes lopsided.

Without initiative from employees, efforts to enrich a work environment have a limited impact. Effective interventions require active participation from employees. Also, programs to increase employee resiliency are more effective when the organization is actively working to improve the work context. Otherwise employees are simply developing their capacity to tolerate bad conditions.

Unilateral is not enough. Preventing burnout only works as a shared effort.


  1. Dear Dr. Leiter:

    I totally agree with your point of view. When directors or departament chiefs don’t consider themselves and their attitudes as a part of the enriched environment, all efforts couldn’t be enough to improve work conditions. And employees participation is nos easy to promote with people like these. Shared goals could be the solution for such situation… don’t you think?


    1. Heriberto

      I agree entirely. Through open conversations employees can express their frustrations in their work, allowing a more direct line to solving problems. Also, leaders can describe the limitations they encounter because of reduced funding or intrusive government or corporate policies. Ongoing conversations along these lines allows all those concerned for the organization to work in the same direction.


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