Building Personal resilience for our Future Leaders– a ‘stress beater’ for Talent Programmes

It’s not a secret that stress is a leading cause of ill health among office workers. In 2011 the annual CIPD Absence Management Survey1 found that stress had overtaken acute illnesses, such as cancer, as the main reason office employees took sick leave.


Stress is not new. We all feel stressed from time to time, maybe through pressures at work or at home or when our lives go through a period of change or when a project is more complex than anticipated or previously experienced.


It’s a fact that many successful business and sports professionals feel stress or even anxiety at some point during their careers, with fear of failure being one of the biggest contributing factors.  A recent study by Towers Watson2 found that one in three workers in the UK are at danger of burnout and a survey by HSBC3 identified that the subject is still considered “taboo” within the workplace.


In our fast-paced world we have a lot of commitments, from the workplace to the home environment and this is the problem. In some cases, too much pressure and stress overwhelms us emotionally and affects our physical health.  Symptoms such as fatigue and irritability or a stress related health condition can lead to absence from work and typically costs the equivalent of 1 year’s salary in direct and indirect impact for the employer.


Any high-pressure scenario has an impact on what happens inside our bodies and can therefore damage our health. The body has a physical response to change; essentially there is tension and contraction. Whether we consider ourselves someone who thrives on challenge or not – repeating this internal response can cause wear and tear and over sustained periods of time lead to situations where we behave in a way that is not helpful or can cause long term health issues.


Dealing with stress ‘in the moment’


We have seen many initiatives for performance, well-being and stress management over the years but many techniques are merely coping strategies and they cannot help when the individual is in the actual situation.


Finding a way of dealing with stress as it’s actually happening can have multiple positive effects for both the employee and the employer. We all know that reducing stress amongst your workforce results in a more stable and profitable company by reducing sick leave, benefiting performance and reducing staff turnover. But how can tackling stress ‘in the moment’ be achieved?


 A science based approach


HeartMath® is a science based approach that uses simple and practical techniques and technology to show employees how to reduce stress and enhance their performance and productivity. HeartMath can be delivered as a group programme or through 1:1 coaching or a combination of both.  It raises people’s performance and health, equipping employees with skills that they can easily apply to every aspect of their life.


The supporting technology allows the client to accurately measure results and see improvements being made. This technique has a proven track record in the US and is now achieving exciting results in the UK. The results demonstrate that people feel more balanced, can judge situations clearly and react accordingly and don’t suffer from the negative effects of stress on the body.


There is no one size fits all with stress, high pressure or challenging situations as everyone’s inherent resilience can change at different times in their careers and lives. A commitment to the health and performance of your workforce will reap long-term benefits but you cannot have one without the other. Let’s face it; we cannot continue to do today’s business using yesterday’s methods. A pro-active  resilience building strategy is a step towards a 21st century approach!


Applying personal resilience coaching in a corporate setting




[caption id="attachment_766" align="alignright" width="150"]The benefits of personal resilience: a fully engaged staff performing at their peak. The benefits of personal resilience: a fully engaged staff performing at their peak.[/caption]


There are several ways that personal resilience programmes can be applied in business. Coaching can be offered to key members of the management team, especially during change transition situations, in order to help them diffuse their own stress and lead their team effectively. Or the coaching can be targeted at a particular area of the workforce who are engaged in a fast paced function with frequent and sudden changes in work flow (such as call centre workers or traders in the dealing room) so that they can learn how to be resilient to market volatility in the trading floor or inbound call volumes in a call centre.


Patrick Watt, previously Executive Director and Head of Wellness at Goldman Sachs, now Director Corporate, Health & Wellbeing at Bupa, commented last year during a webinar on wellness5  that: “rather than get caught up on the metrics, happier, healthier, more engaged employees makes good business sense.” And what follows is the Holy Grail for HR directors: a fully engaged staff performing at their peak, with the ready ability to face the challenge when the going gets tough.


Atrium Synergies is a consultancy and coaching company who specialise in personal and organisational resilience.  They run High Performance and Personal Resilience Building corporate programmes as part of Leadership and Talent Development initiatives. Julie Courtney, founder and Executive Coach, says: “in times of growth, change or restructure we have seen 1:1 Resilience coaching can maximize the performance and wellbeing of our clients’ leaders, management teams and talent pool”. Based on a wealth of experience, the team and associates offer a range of programmes, a core feature being HeartMath.


Stress responses are like habits and learning how to practice the techniques allows you to retrain your body into establishing healthy habits and over-riding those that cause you problems. Atrium Synergies feel passionately that proactively building Resilience amongst your talent is the key to achieving long-term sustainability and the potential long-term results are very exciting.  You are giving them a long term strategy to implement throughout their careers but at a stage when the complexity and workload has not yet reached full capacity.


In a recent survey 88% of people put off making a change to their lifestyle, despite believing that it would improve their lives. It’s a tough question, but what are you putting off that you know your workforce and talent pool needs to change in 2013?




Atrium Synergies: provider of personal resilience programmes


Launched in 2012, Atrium Synergies is a consultancy and  ‘one-stop-shop’ in performance enhancement and personal resilience for corporate clients, individuals and teams in business and sport.


The company was founded by Julie Courtney, a highly successful consultant and coach. Julie has worked in small, medium and large complex organisations as an HR specialist and also extensively in the financial sector. In fact, she has worked with people from all walks of life and she uses her corporate know-how and her rich life experiences to deliver the Atrium Synergies programmes, knowing that her clients can use them as an invaluable tool, time and again, regardless of their life situation. Julie’s background in HR gives her a unique perspective in how this type of coaching can be used to benefit the workforce.




Julie Courtney,


Managing Director, Atrium Synergies






This article was prepared by Atrium Synergies, a company specialising in personal resilience and peak performance coaching and the leading Heartmath®  Executive Coach for financial services in the UK.









m: 07872 517 109 Julie Courtney, Founder, Consultant and Executive Coach


e:, Michelle Offord Administration Assistant


















3 (The reference for Patrick Watt's quote)







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