Thrive through Open Enrollment and All Year Long with These Resilience Building Tactics

Author: Susan Morgan Bailey

Summer is nearly over – a signal for many HR and Benefits professionals that Open Enrollment “season” will soon begin.  For many, the time leading up to and through open enrollment (OE) is busy, stressful and exhausting.  Whether or not your organization is, like others reported in the SHRM 2017 Employee Benefits survey, expanding their focus on wellbeing, keeping the health and wellbeing of your team members and yourself top of mind, is the best way to survive OE (and the rest of the year too).

Building resilience is key to managing stress and avoiding exhaustion.  Resilience is the difference between growth or breakdown.  How can you “grow through what you go through” verses end up feeling sick or run down after a particularly challenging time?  Build resilience by cultivating your super powers through attitude, behavior and social support.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer

Begin each work day by remembering you ultimately get to choose how you will feel about that day, the projects on your to-do list and the people you’ll be interacting with.  Your ability to choose your outlook and response to people and situations is a skill you can grow that begins with becoming aware.  Take note of your inner and outer dialogue.  Do you “get to” tell the employees in your organization about all the great benefits and resources you offer to help them being the best, most healthy humans they can be or do you “have to” tell them?   Feel the different sentiment of each of those lead phrases?  Finding opportunities to have an attitude of gratitude – even if you aren’t feeling it – and grow your optimistic mindset will benefit you beyond building resilience.

Take Action: Research shows you can reduce stress and increase happiness through gratitude practice. Start or end your day by writing down three things you are grateful for on a notepad on your desk.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. Anonymous

Many of us land in HR and benefits roles because we are, by nature, caregivers and helpers who often put others needs before our own.   As the above quote highlights, we can be much more effective at work and at home if we take time to recharge our batteries.   Cultivating resilience depends on nurturing the vessel that propels us through our days. These two behaviors are sure-fire techniques to refuel and maintain balanced energy through stressful times.

Move. Bend, stretch, walk, run or box. Choose a type of physical activity that feels good and schedule time for the activity into your week.  Remember some minutes are better than no minutes.  Apps like Sworkit can provide guidance on what do, in whatever time you have, without special equipment.

Sleep. The percent of people who can survive long-term on 5 or less hours of sleep per night is zero.   Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is your body’s recovery time. If we don’t have time to sleep, the body and brain do not have time to rejuvenate.   Consistent sleep habits improve focus, productivity, clean out stress hormones, balance hunger hormones and more.    Have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep? One of these apps might help you get more ZZZZ’s.

Take Action: Habits are easier to create when we intentionally build them in to our daily routine. In the same way you brush your teeth at relatively the same time in a regular pattern of activities each day, examine your day to find a way to make movement and sleep a regular habit.

Good communication must be H.O.T. – Honest, Open and Two-way. Dan Oswald

Research indicates social support is essential to health, wellbeing and longevity.   Lack of social support can be as bad for your health as smoking. Taking time to nurture relationships year-round and making time for socializing and relaxing with friends and family is key to building resilience.  Strong relationships are built on a foundation of honest, open, two-way communication. Don’t assume your family, friends and colleagues understand how you are feeling and what life is like for you during open enrollment season.  Be proactive and share your concerns about the potentially stressful time ahead.  Let them know how they can be helpful and support you.

Take Action: Schedule time to spend time with friends and family.   Whether it’s family dinner at least one night a week or Saturday morning walks with a friend, find time to connect and spend time face-to-face with those you love.

Like many skills, resiliency is one that can be grown with practice.  Begin with an attitude of gratitude, make taking care of yourself a priority habit and nurture your network of support and your resiliency super powers will flourish all year long.

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About Marsh & McLennan Agency – Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh, was established in 2008 to meet the needs of midsize businesses in the United States. MMA operates autonomously from Marsh to offer employee benefits, executive benefits, retirement, commercial property & casualty, and personal lines to clients across the United States.