Most of us are familiar with this adage: ‘When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.’ In other words, you make the best of a challenging situation. It’s about resilience—successfully adapting to change. Resilience is important because it enables us to actively work through difficult situations instead of shutting down or going numb. Resilience is what helps us navigate moments of strife in our lives such as death of a loved one, divorce, or injury.
However, resilience is also increasingly important in the workplace, particularly in a digital-first, disrupted world. Why? Resilient employees are better able to weather the storms of change and adapt in ways that benefit the entire organization. Unfortunately, only 15% of workers globally are highly resilient. That means there’s a considerable amount of room for improvement—and employers can help.
Why is resilience important for employers to think about?
Here are five reasons why it makes sense for employers to promote resilience in the workplace:
Resilience promotes organizational agility.
As companies expand and evolve, resilient employees are better able to move into new roles, take on new responsibilities, and embrace change with a ‘can do’ attitude. They’re able to face difficult situations with ease and maintain a positive outlook even when the future is largely unknown. Similarly, resilient managers shelter their team from pressure, provide support when needed, and promote employee empowerment and employee engagement.
Resilience supports workplace collaboration.
Resilient employees are better equipped to help themselves as well as others. Not surprisingly, resilient employees often form more resilient teams because each individual is confident in their own ability to contribute, speak up, and collaborate. The more resilient the team, the more likely that team is to succeed. Resilient teams can also enhance employee engagement.
Resilience reduces burnout.
When things get tough, resilient employees are better equipped to handle feelings of burnout. They know what strategies can help them stay focused on the task at hand while simultaneously taking care of themselves. In addition, resilient employees know they can handle anything that comes their way. They aren’t intimidated by change. Instead, they’re inspired by it and can adapt with confidence.
Resilience reduces absenteeism.
When employees know how to handle their stress in a healthy way, they’re less likely to take time off from work. Resilience contributes to a person’s sense of control over life events. Resilient employees are confident in their ability to continue working even when they may be facing personal or professional challenges.
Resilience enhances organizational commitment.
When employees can adapt to new roles and responsibilities with ease, they’re less likely to ‘jump ship’ out of fear or because they long for familiarity. Resilient employees remain committed to the organization because they know there will be new opportunities to learn and grow. Thus, resilience can greatly enhance employee retention.
What is an employer’s role in building employee resilience?
Resilience isn’t something any of us learn overnight. It’s usually the culmination of deliberate skill building and lived experiences over time. With that said, employees may come from vastly different walks of life, and many may need guidance in terms of becoming more resilient. That’s where employers can help.
Forward-thinking employers are beginning to ask the following questions to dive more deeply into the importance of resilience in the workplace and how they can leverage it to enhance performance:
- What does resilience in the workplace mean for our employees and leaders?
- How does resilience play a role in both the company’s well-being and the employee’s well-being?
- How can resilience help us improve each team’s overall functioning and success?
- What is each employee’s responsibility to promote resilience?
Consider the follow ways employers can build employee resilience:
1. Know what your employees need. Employee surveys and one-on-one meetings between managers and staff are critical. When managers understand obstacles, distractions or challenges, they can learn how to help employees overcome those issues. However, keep in mind that managers may need additional training in this area—particularly around emotions in the workplace and building a strong emotional workplace culture. Seize these opportunities for professional development that can benefit the entire team.
2. Reduce workplace stress. For example, employers can promote reasonable quality and productivity standards as well as workplace flexibility. Managers can also display signs or posters throughout the office with helpful and positive affirmations, or they can email positive affirmations to their team members. Creating a culture of trust where employees feel safe to take risks and make mistakes is equally as important.
3. Provide wraparound support. Building resilience is a 24-7 endeavor, and so much of employees’ ability to do it occurs outside of the workplace. That’s why forward-thinking employers are equipping employees with digital wellness tools that promote mental well-being. These tools, powered by behavioral change, provide employees with extra support in the form of a board-certified health coach equipped to help them cope with the ebbs and flows of everyday stress. Over time, these coping mechanisms help build organization-wide resilience.
Fostering resilience is your next step to fostering a stronger workforce
Resilience helps drive better outcomes not only for employees but also for businesses. As companies strive to build resilience in the workplace, they are better poised to adapt to changing markets and challenges, solve problems, and respond with greater confidence and innovation.