Skip to main content Skip to primary navigation

Turning stress into resilience

Working for a growing company can be exciting but also demanding. At Umicore, performance and wellbeing go hand in hand. A webinar on turning stress into resilience was organized on the ‘Focus on Women’ platform a Umicore bottom-up initiative. During this interactive session, Dutch academic and innovator Elke Van Hoof provided insights and practical tips on how stress can become our personal navigator. 

One key highlight was the APGAR score used to evaluate alert signals, as Elke Van Hoof explained. The rule of thumb is that an abrupt shift in two of the five domains is a strong signal that you need to speak up and act immediately. APGAR stands for: 


The way you look and feel. If you are struggling with resilience, you will have issues with sleeping, digestion and so on. So you will notice that you don’t look as good as usual. 


The way you perform. You may under- but also overperform. We tend to see only underperformance as a signal indicating toxic stress. 

Growth tension

Your ability and willingness to adopt new information. Your brain becomes foggy and you have difficulty taking on new information.

Affect control

Your emotions. This is about losing control, becoming over-emotional, but also about irritability.


How you connect with others. It is not about the amount of contact but the quality. Are you just exchanging information or are you really building on the feedback you get from your colleagues so that you are all part of a co-creative process on a higher level? 

It is important to note that it is not the signal itself but the change in the signal that matters. The most efficient way to return to resilience is to increase your recovery time depending on your APGAR score. Looking into the activity, event, or other stimulus that caused you stress will not lead you to a solution. 

Two of our colleagues shared their key take-aways from this session.

Ilse Coenen, senior project manager in Information Systems (Belgium)
Karolina Barczak, European Plant controller (Poland)

Ilse Coenen: ‘An eye-opener for me was the tip about focusing more on the areas in which you can have an impact, by making your world smaller. Worrying about the energy crisis won’t get you anywhere, as you have no impact on this. Once a month, I will take the time to reflect upon myself and my colleagues by applying the APGAR score, as Elke Van Hoof advised.’

Karolina Barczak: ‘Even when you are exhausted after a full working day, you should not forget about physical activity. For me, this is the best way to reduce my stress level, and I was happy to hear that confirmed during the webinar, even if finding time to fit it into my daily routine can be challenging. On lazy days, it forces you to put on your running shoes as the end result is very rewarding.’ 

Both agreed that the webinar was very enriching and they look forward to more of these events because they help them realize that they are not alone struggling with stress and provide a chance to get to know colleagues who can be of support. 

Wellbeing: a key theme within our Let’s go for Zero strategy 

At Umicore, wellbeing means caring. It means caring for our people, for their health and safety, caring for talents and the communities in which we operate. When people are in a state of wellbeing at work, they're able to develop their potential, be productive and creative and build positive relationships. We will be working on the different aspects of wellbeing at work for all our colleagues: mental, physical, occupational and social wellbeing.

Work life can be intense and the pace of the job on a daily basis has increased over the years, impacting on our wellbeing and our relationship with our work. Added to that, digitalization makes it more difficult to separate our private life from work. 

We work closely together with the various regions to ensure that the local wellbeing initiatives and actions are consistent with the group-wide approach.