Organisational structures must be solid and resilient to succeed in an ever-changing, fast-paced business environment. Building resilience is essential in modern workplaces. Companies must embrace change and challenges, overcome barriers, and bounce back from setbacks.
This capacity for resilience is crucial in the 21st century. Achieving this requires resilient employees who can cope with the high-stress levels sometimes faced in demanding business environments.
Dealing with high levels of stress presents a challenge to most workplaces. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work found that 22% of workers in Ireland said that they experienced stress at work “always” or “most of the time”.
Without effective stress management, employees will be less productive due to absenteeism, presenteeism, poor service, and low engagement. Each year over 500,000 workers in the UK suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, leading to over 12 million lost work days.
What Is Resilience?
Being resilient means being able to cope effectively with challenges and change. It’s the ability to experience stress or pain, face obstacles, manage adversity, or confront sudden change while maintaining a growth mindset and positive thinking.
Resilience is an acquired skill that develops over time as people accumulate life experiences, perspectives, and the ability to manage themselves and their emotions. Personal resilience is also a factor of having a good social network (family, friends, and colleagues) and confidence in oneself and abilities.
A resilient person can confront and manage feelings and impulses, seek help when needed, and have good problem-solving skills. Resilient individuals also view themselves as resilient, and when faced with difficult situations or problems, they do not approach the issue from the standpoint of a helpless victim but with a resilient mindset.
What Is Resilience In The Workplace?
A resilient team can perform well under pressure and can embrace change. Resilient employees look forward, do not dwell on problems, and can maintain their productivity and positive outlook in the face of unexpected adversity or day-to-day work frustrations. Emotional resilience plays a crucial role in this.
Managers have an essential role to play in building resilient employees. They can create an emotionally strong workforce through many vital approaches. Leadership development is critical in this process. Let’s explore the six most essential strategies in further detail below.
1. Provide a Purpose
Employees should know their purpose and understand their contribution to the larger organisation. An effective manager reinforces their objectives, purposes, and goals so that employees see the bigger picture and the value in their work.
With a clear purpose, it can be easier for employees to be resilient and preserve through difficult times. Without purpose, they may give up and become hopeless.
2. Create Trust
Trust is critical for open communication, and when employees are comfortable sharing weaknesses, asking questions, seeking help, and taking risks, they can be more resilient. Employees who trust each other are more likely to work collaboratively and provide each other with the support needed to weather difficult situations.
3. Provide a Manageable Workload
Unmanageable workloads are a threat to resilience. If employees are overworked for an extended period, they will become less resilient and poor engagement, reduced creativity, and less productivity will result. Although managing workloads can be challenging, there are ways to address the issue effectively:
- Managers can engage their team in an honest conversation about who has excessive work and who could consider taking on more.
- Establishing and communicating clear priorities can help employees focus on the most critical work.
- Allowing flexible working arrangements can empower employees to balance their personal and professional priorities, which builds trust and resilience while reducing stress.
4. Give Autonomy
When employees have the freedom to think for themselves and make decisions, not only will they be happier and more productive, but they will also be more resilient. When employees have the freedom they need to do their jobs, they are more confident and resourceful and try to solve their problems.
Without autonomy, employees take on a victim mentality and do not have the confidence to confront problems. Managers should encourage employees to make decisions, take risks, and try new things. Failures should be an opportunity to learn and not irreversible mistakes.
5. Facilitate Relationships
Solid and resilient teams have strong connections. They trust each other and are supportive and collaborative when tackling challenges versus judgemental and critical.
Employee relationships are built through time together, like social activities, training, and on-the-job collaboration. Managers should encourage employees to reach out to each other for assistance. This creates the trust and shared purpose needed to be resilient when facing setbacks.
6. Focus on Wellness
When employees are healthy, they are happier and more resilient. Employee health should be promoted as a part of a more extensive employee wellness program. It should encourage physical activity, provide health education, and host health-focused events.
Resilience in Remote and Hybrid Work Environments
The global pandemic has reshaped how businesses operate, with many organisations transitioning to remote or hybrid work models. This shift has brought about challenges, emphasising the need for resilience training more than ever.
Adapting to New Work Environments
Employees had to quickly adapt to working from home, often juggling work responsibilities with personal commitments in the same space. This required a new level of resilience to maintain productivity and well-being.
Staying Connected Virtually
Building and maintaining relationships became a virtual endeavour of emotional resilience. Employees found ways to stay connected while improving their resilience skills, leveraging technology to recreate water-cooler moments and team bonding.
With work and home life blending, setting boundaries became crucial. Resilient workers established routines, designated workspaces, and communicated their availability to colleagues to ensure a work-life balance.
The unpredictability of the pandemic meant plans could change rapidly. Employees showcased resilience by staying flexible, adapting to new project timelines, and being understanding of colleagues’ challenges.
The shift to remote work required many to upskill, whether mastering new digital tools or adopting new communication strategies. A resilient mindset was essential in embracing this continuous learning curve.
Organisations can support this resilience by offering training on remote work best practices, fostering a culture of open communication, and ensuring employees have the tools they need to succeed in a virtual environment.
Case Study: A Real-life Example of Resilience in Action
A well-documented case of resilience in action accurately illustrates the point highlighted above. Over twelve years, S. Maddi and D. Khoshaba studied employees of a large US telecommunications company during a time when the industry was undergoing deregulation. The company was in a constant state of change, and jobs were at risk.
- Almost 50% of the employees lost their jobs during the twelve-year study.
- Two-thirds experienced significant stressful life events, including divorce, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and heart attacks.
- Despite these challenges, one-third of the workers not only survived but flourished.
- Employees who retained their positions rose to the top. At the same time, those who lost their jobs either started their own companies or took strategically essential positions in other companies.
The study showcased that resilience is an active, dynamic process. Even in the face of significant challenges and stressors, individuals can thrive and succeed. The employees who displayed resilience viewed challenges as opportunities for growth and were able to adapt and overcome adversity.
Fostering a resilient workforce is a necessary part of long-term business success. If employees are not resilient, they cannot effectively cope with stress and challenging situations, and the company will suffer from absenteeism, presenteeism, poor service, and low employee engagement.
The road to success is sometimes bumpy and resilient employees can embrace challenges and learn from setbacks while keeping an optimistic perspective.
Implementing efficient workplace wellness programmes is one step closer to covering the above.
With workshops to educate and up-skill employees and employers in resilience, effectively coping with the daily challenges and changes in the workplace doesn’t have to be as daunting as it should be.
*This is not medical advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a medical professional if you think you need to seek further help.