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Healthy and Resilient Organizations

written by Rosalinda Ballesteros Valdes 14 May 2018

Rosalinda Ballestero Valdés, MAPP 2015 is the director of Institute for Wellbeing and Happiness at Universidad Tecmilenio, a higher education private institution in Mexico with 28 locations in 22 cities, a total of 47,500 students including 16,000 high school students. Rosalinda's articles are here.

I recently came across the HEalthy and Resilient Organizations (HERO) model created by the research team led by Dr. Marisa Salanova in Valencia Spain. Created in 1999, this model was originally used to study work-related stress, the burnout phenomenon, and the effects of outplacement in workers during economic crisis. Subsequently all the negative parts of the work-related health spectrum transformed into a model to provide organization members with the psychological resources to be not only resilient in facing economic crises, but also to look at economic cycles and market challenges as moments of growth and opportunity for organizations.

Sprouting in the desert:
thriving in adverse times

One advantage that this research group has is that the European Union regulates occupational health so that companies need to allocate resources to health initiatives. For many years companies believed that the obligation had to be fulfilled, but that it was costly to company revenues. Now, years later, the HERO model is transforming organizational health into organizational positive psychosocial growth. Research by this team shows that happy and healthy employees create wealth for the organization.

The model has three aspects:

  • Resources that employees create
  • Resources that the organization provides
  • Community relations

“Healthy employees and teams have positive psychological resources with which to feel good and positive at work.” ~ Marisa Salanova and colleagues

HERO Model
(Click to see larger image)

Model Terms

In terms of employee resources, the model proposes that self-efficacy is the most important tool that people need to have.

In terms of resources that the organization should provide, the model provides a series of measurements of the quantity and complexity of tasks that are required of people within the organization.

In terms of the community, the foundation of the model is that organizations that are HEROes not only outperform other types of organizations, but also have better community relationships and social responsibility programs.

Model in Action

In addition to self-efficacy, the HERO model also proposes that emotional intelligence and being able to generate positive emotions are important resources that employees create. As people live longer lives, organizational psychologists should also look at how generations interact in the workspace and re-examine retirement from the viewpoint of what is healthy for the employee and for the organization.

The Puzzle of Customer Service

The model refers to organizational resources in terms of the systemic organization of tasks that a job comprises: the number of tasks, the cognitive complexity, and the emotional complexity of tasks within the job description. It is not the same to handle customer service with customers full of complaints and problems to solve as it is to handle customer service for companies with high customer satisfaction. One of the interventions that the model proposes is to help employees change their mindsets towards challenging tasks. The model also suggests that each job be designed to have a certain amount of emotionally challenging work and then have recovery processes or moments. The model has been applied, for example, to hospital employees to reduce the amount of emotional dissonance related to patient care.

HERO organizations are financially healthy and stable. Because the psychosocial capital exists, they are better equipped to deal with the volatile economic times that are our everyday reality.


Ballesteros Valdes, R. (2015). An intervention model to create a strong sense of meaning and life purpose in high school students. MAPP capstone, University of Pennsylvania.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.

Salanova, M. (2009). Psicología de la salud ocupacional (No. 159.9: 331). Síntesis. Preface, Table of Contents, Introduction.

Salanova, M., Llorens, S., Cifre, E. & Martinez, I. M. (2012). We Need a Hero! Towards a Validation of the Healthy & Resilient Organization (HERO) Model. Group & Organization Management, 37 (6), 785-822. DOI: 10.1177/1059601112470405.

Salanova, M., Llorens, S., Acosta, H., & Torrente, P. (2013). Positive interventions in positive organizations / Intervenciones Positivas en Organizaciones Positivas. Terapia Psicológica, 31(1). DOI: 10.4067/S0718-48082013000100010.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Compfight with Creative Commons licenses
Flowers in the desert courtesh of philipbouchard
Customer Service courtesy of jeffdjevdet

HERO Model image in Salanova et al (2013). Adapted from Salanova et al (2012).

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Judy Krings 15 May 2018 - 1:29 pm

Terrific article, Rosalinda. I found myself going back to look at all the jobs I had in the past and to note whether or not they have elements of this cool HERO model. Most did not. Heads up, positive psychology illuminates and offers scientific interventions to help us thrive. I really enjoyed the need to encourage and support difficult tasks well done, using strengths no doubt, and then allowing for a recovery period. Not just getting an assigned next tough task to conquer without our personal upward spiral of PE’s. Thanks much!

Rosalinda Ballesteros 15 May 2018 - 5:11 pm

I am glad you liked the article, I found the model to be a practical application of Positive Psychology to organisations.

Rosalinda Ballesteros 15 May 2018 - 5:13 pm

I glad you found it useful, I find it to be a practical application of Positive Psychology to organisations.


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