Resilience is critical for the overarching success of communication professionals in regional Australia, a new study has found.
Research by Charles Sturt University academic Victoria Erskine and Dr Sharon Schoenmaker discovered a connection to skills of resilience and the physical and mental wellbeing, career longevity and community engagement of such workers.
"We as communicators are absolutely at the front line of understanding to the community, helping inform people on anything and everything, so if we haven't got ourselves organised to manage the stresses of the industry, how are we meant to convey these messages to others," Ms Erskine said.
The communications specialist said working regionally in particular required resilience centred around blending a personal and professional life.
"The people we studied said living and working regionally had challenges around things like never really leaving their work and 'switching off', financial constraints, and the fact they can't always choose another job because it might be the only option available, but this inherently gave them increased resilience."
"These workers have developed resilience as a result of their active role in their communities where they are intimately connected to the issues they are sharing."
Ms Erskine said there were a number of personal traits expressed by the subjects which demonstrated their higher level of resilience.
"What we found was a certain level of ability to problem solve, managing emotions and recognising feelings in others, they are independent by nature and really value positive and respectful relationships and have a strong sense of purpose," she said.
Director of Comms&Co Nadine Crowley is one communications specialist with 20 years' experience in regional and metropolitan settings.
"In a regional community you have to adapt to the needs of the market - the pressure regionally is often more about fewer jobs available and less of an ability to just go from one position to another of equal standing," she said.
"So being able to accurately read what your market wants and how you can apply your skills to that and make the most of it is where the pressure lies.
"In the city, I was able to relax and look at other opportunities and see how I could step my career around to different avenues."
Ms Crowley said there were benefits to both environments, but resilience was a huge factor in regional success.
"You often work for yourself in smaller communities, or at least don't have a huge corporation in charge and other businesses in the market, so you're essentially doing more than one person's work which is stressful," she said.
"That is where metropolitan work helps with experience though, I had a great 10 years in Sydney and it was an excellent springboard for my career, I got to try a lot of different aspects of communications which gave me a really good ability to come back to regional work and bring it all together."
Ms Crowley offered a word of advice for communicators.
"The biggest part of being resilient in a job is confidence in your ability and skills in the face of pressure, and the most important thing to remember is that confidence is both learned and earned," she said.
Ms Erskine said subjects of the study also had tips to improve people's resilience.
"Many suggested it was about having an understanding of self organisation, being able to keep themselves organised by writing lists, setting expectations with clients, meeting deadlines, and definitely a sense of self preservation through exercise, mindfulness and meditation exercises, plus not catastrophising and looking at issues with a positive mindset," she said.
"This is a study about personal resilience, but we also need to look at the onus being not just on the individual but the employers, businesses and communities to support staff, and how to embed those skills in students where their training starts."