Resilience building at DWP

People have been through a lot this year. At work but in different locations, dealing with lockdowns and all the other things that we’ve faced as a result of the pandemic.

Word chart with resilience being linked to:  positivity, meaning, relationships, social support, perspective, energy, priorities, engagement, achievement, and vitality.
Resilience word chart

I’m keen that as Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) development adviser, my colleagues get the support they need, to help them feel ok. Everyone’s different – some might want a regular chat, others might prefer watching a video, or reading something like this blog… hopefully!

Gathering together

We decided to give people in DWP Communications the opportunity to join their colleagues and spend a bit of time focusing on resilience. From mid-September, we ran 4 webinars, 45 minutes each. They looked at what can affect our resilience, recognising when something isn’t as it should be, and were an opportunity to share ideas on what can help. And there are so many ideas around. I wanted people to try at least one new activity afterwards.

It can be the smallest thing that affects our resilience. Ok, there are plenty of big things around too, many of which we have no control or influence over. That extra email, WIFI going down for a few minutes, or a chat that didn’t end well, can all affect how we feel.


Complex answers aren’t the best; it can be the simplest of things that helps – a few deep breaths, sipping on water, having a look out of the window or popping out for fresh air.

We’ve all had to adapt, and we’ve all learned new things. In the sessions, we touched on having a growth mindset as a way of improving resilience.
A few of the ideas people shared included journaling, playing the piano, yoga, and reading. For some, it’s trying a new activity, for others, it’s re-connecting with one that was once part of their lives. For me, I’m writing down 3 things I’m grateful for every day.

The impact on us

A few ideas that people shared were connected to what they’d do pre-lockdown. Reading the newspaper or listening to music were popular commuting activities, and people want to get back to them. Having that gap between work and home life is important. Now, for many, the commute is a walk to a different room. You could try reconnecting back to the music you used to listen to.

Other ideas included making a packed lunch, even if your workplace is 3 metres away from your kitchen (or maybe it is your kitchen). And putting a regular break into your day to refuel with a drink.

Here we are now

After 50 people joined the sessions – communication specialists from around DWP (resilience doesn’t stop at team boundaries), the feedback was positive, and we’re keeping the conversation going. Other teams are interested in the session, and we’ve started having an informal half-hour chat every week for people to drop into. I want to make sure that as we go through autumn and winter and into 2021, people continue to get the support they deserve and need. We’ll keep running the sessions as part of our wider learning and development (L&D) programme, and we’re developing one about dealing with change.

So in conclusion, take a bit of time to check in on yourself. How are you feeling? What one simple thing can you do to help yourself? And if you’re ok, you’ll be in a better place to help your colleagues, family and friends.

Have a look at some of these resilience resources:

Read all about it:

How did you score? Resilience quizzes from:

Watch it:

Hear hear. Try these podcasts:

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