High Agility, Low Resilience Employees Have Higher Risk of Burnout, Depression, Anxiety and Absenteeism

Lucy English, Ph.D.,VP Research, meQuilibrium

High agility in combination with high resilience is a key factor in preventing employee burnout, depression and anxiety, which is one of the key findings from a national research study conducted by meQuilibrium. The scientific survey of 2,000 full-time employed adults found that 40% of those surveyed with high agility and low resilience show signs of moderate to severe anxiety and depression, while those with high agility and high resilience had very low anxiety and depression rates, with only 2% at risk of these mental health issues. 

The study is the first to look at the implications of agility (the ability to quickly react and adapt to changes), and resilience (the ability to rebound productively in challenging situations), in the context of crucial burnout and work-related performance consequences.

The research investigated the interaction between resilience and agility and their impact on absenteeism, burnout, engagement and intent to quit, along with stress, anxiety and depression. The study revealed that resilience and agility have a dynamic relationship; resilience combined with agility enhance and reinforce one another to such a degree that they multiply the effect of each.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recognized burnout as a syndrome caused by workplace-related stress and one of the best ways to protect workers from experiencing burnout is for organizations to take steps to improve both resilience and agility among their employees.

Key findings include:

  • Beware low resilience, especially with highly agile people

The study also discovered that building agility alone can produce unanticipated negative consequences. Findings revealed that highly agile employees who possessed low resilience had an increased risk of anxiety (+54%) and an increased risk of depression (+27%). In addition, these agile, yet low resilience employees had an increased absenteeism rate of 5.7 days per year.

  • Low resilience plus low agility equals high burnout risk

For those with low agility and low resilience, burnout can be a common problem. meQuilibrium’s research found that 44% of those with low resilience and low agility are at risk of burnout, compared with 6% of highly resilient and highly agile employees.

  • Resilience plus agility means employees are less likely to quit

The positive impact of resilience and adaptive capability extends beyond burnout prevention and high performance to turnover intent. The study revealed that resilience and agility work together to double work engagement boost and those employees who are both highly resilient and highly agile are about half as likely as those with low resilience and low agility to leave their job in the next six months.

The full report is available as a free download at http://go.mequilibrium.com/dynamicduo.html

Lucy EnglishAbout the Author: Lucy English, Ph.D., is the VP Research of meQuilibrium. Lucy has fifteen years of experience helping major employers create people strategies to meet business goals and become employers-of-choice. She conducts research on how to best support employees to be successful at work and in life outside of work. She serves as an advisor on human capital management strategy across industries with major national and multi-national employers.
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