Resilience is the new buzz word when it comes to stress management. And it is a welcome change. Who wants to simply “manage” or “cope” with daily feelings of stress and overwhelm? We want to thrive! We want to rise up and enjoy what we’re doing! Chronic stress prevents this enjoyment from happening, and increasing resilience is the answer.
Those who work in 9-1-1 Dispatch Centers are particularly susceptible to the effects of work-related stress. The job has been shown to expose 9-1-1 Dispatchers to harmful levels of stress, potentially leading to secondary trauma, on-the-job mistakes and feelings of overwhelm.
In my last post on resilience, we discussed how greater levels of resilience can help prevent this stress from striking the boiling point. Research has shown that those who are resilient feel more in control of their workday. They are more engaged. They embrace a positive outlook, and see the inevitable hiccups of the day as challenges they have the resources to meet and overcome.
If this is how resilience affects the individual, what happens when a group of people in an organization are resilient? Could it change the culture of the organization? Could it impact the bottom line?
We found that it did.
In 2012, while working as a 9-1-1 Dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department, I started a meditation-based stress reduction program at Communications Division. Once a week, I helped my fellow coworkers engage the simple practice of sitting and breathing for 15 minutes. Over the 18 months that this program was in effect, over 100 Dispatchers participated–more than 20% of the active Police Dispatchers employed by the City of Los Angeles at the time.
An amazing thing happened. This program, in conjunction with simple policies the Division Captain enacted–like relaxed weekend attire, an open-door approach to managing personnel, and frequent recognition of Dispatchers who did a great job–resulted in a more positive work environment. The frequency of citizen complaints went down.
Was the bottom line impacted? Yep! Year-over-year sick time usage dropped 45%. It’s interesting what happens when employees like coming to work.
What would a 45% decrease in absenteeism do to your bottom line?
Increasing your team’s level of resilience begins with giving them the right tools, and continues by creating an environment conducive to positivity and support.
Easier said than done? Sure. Worth it? Absolutely.
What have you done to increase morale and make your Dispatch Center an easier place to work? Please share your thoughts in the comments below so we can all learn from your experience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Adam Timm is the author of the #1 bestselling book, Stress Is Optional! How to Kick the Habit, and the cofounder of The Healthy Dispatcher, a law enforcement training company that offers stress resilience, communication and leadership classes designed for Emergency Dispatchers. His second book, Dispatcher Stress: 50 Lessons on Beating the Burnout, is due out this summer.