SUMMARY: Team-building activities, developed by experts, can help build resilience and emotional intelligence by improving the ability of team members to respond effectively to stressors, resolve issues, and support each other through challenging times.

Why are resilience and emotional intelligence workplace issues?

Personal resilience is the result of many factors including genetics, family history, personal experience, learned behaviour and state of health. Each person's level of resilience plays a role in his or her ability to withstand both everyday workplace stressors and serious incidents without becoming psychologically harmed. While each person is unique, the activities described above are relevant for most people and focus on common workplace issues.

Serious traumatic incidents in the workplace pose a significant risk for psychological harm. Such events frequently involve a threat to life or safety, most often related to first responders and high-risk work. But any situation in any job that leaves a person feeling overwhelmed can affect their ability to work and cope. This can include perceptions of conflict, bullying, harassment, betrayal or humiliation in the workplace.

The objective facts do not determine whether an event will affect someone negatively. Rather, the negative impact is determined by a person's subjective emotional experience of the event combined with their level of resilience. The more unprepared or helpless someone feels in a situation, the more likely they may be at risk for harm. However, when you prepare employees for challenging situations and help them develop relevant problem solving skills, the risk of harm can be reduced.

Workplace training and team-building should include intentional preparation of teams for potential exposure to challenging situations. When someone is prepared for any situation and knows to whom they can turn for support, the incident is less likely to result in long-term negative outcomes. You can do this through simulations of situations such as dealing with angry clients or simply having discussions focused on coping strategies for challenges that could include:

    • Workplace bullying, harassment, or violence
    • Ethical or moral dilemmas
    • Negative, aggressive, or angry clients or patients
    • Threatening or intimidating management approaches
    • Humiliation or ridicule
    • Discrimination, false accusations, or injustice
    • Redeployment, relocation or termination
  • Provide training to help employees become aware of their thoughts, including during times of stress or crisis. Mindfulness training, for example, is one approach that has been known to improve an individual's ability to manage their response during a crisis.
  • Engage employees in brainstorming what their "psychological hardhat" is at work - the strategies and approaches they use to manage intense stress or exposure to trauma. Gather together all of the answers, consider which ones might easily be incorporated into work processes, and share those answers with relevant staff.
  • Make the link between physical wellness and resilience and support physical as well as mental health promotion activities at work. In addition to the specific team-building activities above, some additional ideas are available in Take Your Break.

Use these activities at team meetings to help develop resilience, emotional intelligence, team cohesion, and problem-solving skills. Facilitating Team Discussions offers some tips to support you in becoming more comfortable facilitating these conversations.

Team Dynamics Activities

Connecting with Your Team

Taking time to connect to help create strong relationships and reduce the impact of negative emotions in the workplace.

Monitoring Your Impact on Others

Optimizing leadership by staying aware of how mood impacts others.

Good Enough vs. Perfection

Developing shared and reasonable expectations in terms of quality of work.

Practicing Non-Judgmental Interpretations

Developing constructive and non-judgmental interpretations of workplace situations and behaviours.

Matching Intent and Behaviour

Changing external behaviour to better reflect intention.

Identify Your Values

Articulating core values to identify goals and understand behaviours.

Identify Your Strengths

Thinking about specific ways to build strengths.

Acknowledging Strengths

Thinking about and articulating the strengths that others bring to the team.

Mistake Meetings

Developing a sense of openness and trust amongst the team.

Acknowledging Our Accomplishments

Providing an opportunity for employees to share positive contributions that may not have been recognized.

Specific Active Acknowledgement

Improving the way we acknowledge and respond to others.

Team Huddle

Celebrating each other's wins and supporting one another's challenges can help build team and organizational resilience.

Volunteering Together

Building resilience through social support and self-efficacy.

Resilience and Problem-Solving Activities

Identifying and Overcoming Obstacles

Building problem-solving and communication skills to help identify and overcome obstacles at work.

Implementing Needs-Based Problem-Solving

Improving effectiveness and reducing negative emotions in the workplace.

Reacting to Change

Developing awareness of how we react to change.

Identifying Workplace Risks

Engaging teams in reviewing past stressful work situations to develop strategies for the future stressful work situations.

Learning From the Past

Drawing on past experiences to develop awareness of personal coping strategies.

Dealing With Disappointment

Focusing on facing and moving beyond a disappointment.

Dealing With Worry

Reducing worry about work and replacing it with effective problem solving.

Emotional intelligence activities

Awareness of Other People’s Emotions

Being attentive to the non-verbal emotional messages being communicated.

Using Self-Talk to Overcome Barriers

Using positive self-talk to remember past successes in challenging situations.

The Function of Emotions

Examining exactly what an emotional response may be communicating.

Expressing Emotions Constructively

Expressing emotions can impact how workers respond.

Emotional Triggers

Understanding emotional triggers helps to address different situations.

Wearing a Mona Lisa Smile (can lift your mood)

Smiling can reduce the intensity of negative emotions.

Anger as a Symptom

Examining situations where anger is a “secondary emotion” – which may be a symptom of an underlying “primary emotion”.

Expressing Anger Constructively

Expressing anger constructively may be the best way to minimize circumstances in the future.

Examining Emotionally-Driven Decision-Making

Exploring factors that make it more likely for emotions to drive decisions.

Mindful Minutes to De-stress

Calming the mind to improve focus and reduce stress.

Improving Communication Activities

Identifying Your Interaction Style

Thinking about interaction styles when under stress.

Interpreting Negative Feedback Accurately

Interpreting feedback accurately by focusing on its constructive intent and keeping it in perspective.