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How We Help Build Resilience in the Workplace

How We Help Build Resilience in the Workplace

As employers bring back workers, a focus on safety, resilience, and wellbeing in the workplace is paramount.

Safety to contain the spread of COVID-19. Wellbeing to support the whole health of employees. And resiliency to help employees develop the capacity to recover quickly, time and time again, from difficulties.

As an EX Coach helping tobacco users overcome addiction, we know a lot about resilience—as we help people build the skills they need to quit and stay quit from tobacco.

Why tobacco users need resilience to quit

“I’ve quit a lot of things in my time but quitting nicotine is by far the hardest.”

We hear this phrase often in our chats as EX Coaches with the EX Program. In fact, some people say quitting nicotine is as hard or even harder than quitting heroin. There are discussions in our EX Community about that very statement.

So why is it so hard to quit nicotine?

There are several reasons.

Most people associate habits and strong emotions with nicotine: after meals, while driving, or when something stressful in life happens. The physical addiction to nicotine must also be addressed; tobacco companies make their nicotine deliveries as efficient as possible. Nicotine hits the brain in mere seconds after inhaling a cigarette. Seconds. This means the brain’s pleasure-seeking receptors are almost immediately rewarded. Unlike heroin though, nicotine is legal and easy to access.

Read more about why it’s so hard for tobacco users to quit in our blog, Why Don’t People Just Stop Smoking?

Because nicotine can be so challenging to quit, many people we chat with express feeling weak or thinking of their previous quits as failures. To counter this, we strive in every chat to reframe their previous experiences into a tool they can use to empower themselves and attack their quit with resiliency.

Examples of reframing statements look like these:

  • “Sounds like you learned a lot about yourself last time you quit. What helped you stay motivated then?”
  • “You know you can do this since you’ve done hard things before and quit other substances.”
  • “You quit last time for 6 months? That is substantial quitting experience! What worked for you then you can use for this quit?”
How resilience and stress management are different

In today’s turbulent workplace with high burnout rates and employee churn, stress management is a critical issue and a hot topic in current HR circles. But I’d just like to point out that it’s not the same as building resilience.

stress mangement tends to be reactive and resilience in the workplace is more proactive

This Society for Human Resource Management article sums up the difference well:

“Stress management tends to be reactive, the damage control needed when a crisis hits. Resilience is more proactive, teaching people to build ability and skills so they’re prepared for the next crisis, and the one after that.”

As EX Coaches for tobacco addiction, emphasizing resilience is important because we know people will face challenges time and time again during their quit—and even after they quit. When tobacco users know to leverage previous experience into a useful tool, they improve their chance of long-term success.

Using a variety of tools such as motivational interviewing and positive psychology, we help tobacco users build up resilience to cope with cravings, resist urges, get back on the horse after a slip, and find ways to view slips or relapses as learning opportunities rather than failures.

We do this because we know when people allow themselves to reframe “failures” as simply part of the journey to success, it can give them the strength and confidence to keep going. And who in your workforce couldn’t benefit from being reminded of this, especially right now? 🙂


Margaret LaPlante
Margaret LaPlante

EX Coach Lead

Margaret collaborates with the live chat team to ensure protocols are always current and research based. She trains the EX Coaches to get participants the help and medication support they need for a successful quit. Margaret has been delivering tobacco cessation coaching since 2004, helping others get the personalized help they need.

Human Resources Today