Building Employee Resilience: How Do Your Efforts Measure Up?

William McPeck
3 min readJan 6, 2020

As worksite wellness shifts its focus away from employee health and towards employee wellbeing, one of the topics garnering increased attention is psychological resilience. Building employee psychological resilience is seen as being one strategy for addressing employees today who are reporting increasingly levels of stress in their working lives.

Typically, employers either create their own resiliency focused programming and interventions, or they purchase or license a resiliency focused program from a vendor. Until now, there has been no framework for an employer to follow when building programming or to use as a framework by which to evaluate a vendor provided solution.

In September 2019, Richta IJntema and her colleagues published: Reviewing the Labyrinth of Psychological Resilience: Establishing Criteria for Resilience Building Programs. Based on a review of the published resilience literature, IJntema and colleagues established a set of twelve criteria that they believe need to be met in a program that claims to build psychological resilience. Their criteria are based on a review of the literature related to resilience terminology, definitions and conceptualizations of psychological resilience and enhancement of resilience.

The 12 criteria are:

1. The topic of the program is psychological resilience.

2. The employee population (the specific employee segment) that the program is intended for is identified and specified.

3. The field or industry the program is intended for is identified and specified.

4. The program identifies and spells out the definition and description of resilience used by the program. This definition/description is aligned with how the employer organization views resilience or is aligned with how the employer wants resilience to be understood within the organization.

5. Since adversity triggers resilience, the characteristics of the adversities addressed by the program are identified and specified.

6. The program explains how it uses positive adaptations of behavior such as recovery, sustainability and growth in the face of the adversity.

7. The basic elements of the adaptation process used in the program are outlined and clearly explained so you can understand the process.

8. The timing of the program in relationship to adversity (before, during, or after) is explained.

9. The program’s general aim and specific aims are identified and specified. The specific aims explain which element or elements of resilience are targeted.

10. The program explains how it measures resilience. The explanation includes which elements are measured and at which points in time.

11. The program specifies whether a baseline measure of resilience is required before program participation begins.

12. The program explains how it enhances resilience by which approach, by how the program is delivered and over what time period.

These 12 research literature based criteria form a framework by which employers and/or worksite wellness practitioners can compare their offerings in the area of building employee psychological resilience. As worksite wellness programs evolve away from being focused solely on employee health towards employee wellbeing having frameworks like this one to draw upon becomes increasingly important.

Obviously, the point of offering programming and interventions is to not just offer something, but rather to offer something that has the potential to make a difference for both the organization and its employees.


IJntema, Richta. Burger, Yvonne. Schaufeli, Wilmar. 2019. Reviewing the Labyrinth of Psychological Resilience: Establishing Criteria for Resilience Building Programs. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. Volume 71, Number 4, pp. 288–304.

©2020. William McPeck. All Rights Reserved.



William McPeck

Bill McPeck has been involved as a leader and practitioner in employee health, safety, wellness and wellbeing for close to 30 years.