Self-efficacy can be built by developing the emotional flexibility of employees, according to new research from Nyenrode Business University, VU Amsterdam and IE University Madrid.
Self-efficacy, or in other words a person’s belief in their ability to succeed, is important to help employees be resilient in a fast-changing environment. Developing emotional flexibility helps employees handle changes better and builds stronger mental health.
According to Professor Dr Nick van Dam at Nyenrode Business University: ‘Employee engagement worldwide is at an all-time low, research suggests that a majority of the working population are disengaged at work. Depression, stress and other problems related to mental health are an important cause of absence. Millions of workdays are lost each year due to mental health issues making this the leading cause of absenteeism at work.
‘Additionally, the current pandemic situation demands flexibility and resilient. Learning new skills and adapting continuously can result in a lot of pressure and insecurity. Developing the self-confidence to handle this and to continue to learn new skills is essential for sustainable employment and participation in society.’
Dealing with ongoing change asks for skills that help employees become comfortable with discomfort. Emotional flexibility also called acceptance and commitment training therapy or ACT therapy includes a set of skills that teach dealing with stress and discomfort. ACT is evidence-based and successfully applied within clinical therapy and proven effective for treatment of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. These skills have also been effective at a small scale in the working context but were not yet researched among knowledge workers. However, this new research among knowledge workers in Germany proved that these skills can be trained and additionally increase the self-confidence of employees and through that resilience.
Dr Jacqui Brassey, a fellow researcher at VU Amsterdam and Global Director Learning at McKinsey & Company, indicates: ‘There is a fast increasing need in society for skills related to self-confidence and emotional flexibility. There should be increasing training in the areas of emotional intelligence and flexibility but these trainings often remain optional. This research emphasizes the urgency, effectiveness and feasibility of training in the area of self-confidence and emotional flexibility.’
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