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Last updated: 14 May 2024

How to build resilience in the workplace?

What is workplace resilience?

The UK government defines resilience as ‘reduced vulnerability to environmental risks, the overcoming of stress or adversity, or a relatively good outcome despite risk experiences’. It is how you ‘bounce back’ after difficult circumstances in your life. 

But what makes someone resilient? Characteristics of resilience are problem-solving skills, survivor mentality, self-compassion, emotional regulation, and strong social connections.

  • Problem-solving skills: If a problem does arise, resilient people are quick to come up with a sensible and reasonable solution. They won’t be narrow-minded and they’ll look to make the best of or take advantage of opportunities.
    • Survivor mentality: Those who are resilient avoid a victim mentality, they see themselves instead as a survivor. They remain positive whilst looking for a good outcome when solving a problem.
      • Self-compassion: Resilient people are smart, they listen to what their bodies and minds are asking. They take breaks when required and understand their emotions, they have identified that doing this will benefit their mental and physical health.
        • Emotional regulation: It’s important how you react to emotional responses. Those who are more resilient will recognise when they’re emotional, work out why and try not to act out purely on that response, but instead think rationally.
          • Strong social connections: Those who demonstrate strong resilience surround themselves with people who can aid them. This includes; family, friends, colleagues and support groups which give them someone to talk to at all times.

            Why is resilience important in the workplace?

            Having a more resistant workforce can benefit your business in many different ways. It leaves workers less vulnerable to burnout, and better at dealing with change. Which is crucial in job roles that can become repetitive, or require regular adaptation. A resilient workforce reduces absenteeism and increases productivity resulting in a higher rate of work.

            Forbes reported that results from a study showed that resilience training reduced average depression symptoms by between 33% and 44%. You will notice a more positive attitude from your employees, which most importantly aids their quality of life. As an employer, your priority should be at the well-being of everyone you employ. Seeing them happy will give you good satisfaction.

            Seven tips to build workplace resilience

            1. Identify strengths and weaknesses

            To properly develop your resilience, you need to be able to recognise your strengths and weaknesses. This lets you know where you need to improve, and areas you’re performing well in. 

            One way employees and employers can do this is via feedback such as sending out regular surveys along with one-to-one meetings to keep people on track. Resilience is a personal journey so feedback needs to be personal to an individual. You need to realise as an employer it’s up to you to get the most out of your team, helping them to improve also helps you.

            2. Be training focused

            Once you’ve identified someone's weaknesses, it’s time to do something about it. Invest in your people and offer them training to improve or further develop skills related to their role. This will show them that you care for them as an employee, and see them as a valued member of the team.

            As an employer, make sure to have training plans in place for all role types. But be open to adapting this depending on a person's individual needs. Provide training resources for members of the team to access in their free time, and encourage learning and self-improvement.

            3. Support physical wellbeing

            To be resilient at work you need to be in the right physical wellbeing. As an employer you should provide opportunities for those that work for you, to improve or maintain their physical health. Cycle-to-work and gym schemes are incentives to get people active, which will aid their physical health over time.

            A good work-life balance is also important, don’t allow employees to work themselves to ill health. Encourage holiday days, sick days and plenty of breaks to ensure every person is in the best possible shape to perform.

            4. Increase benefits

            Burnout can have a real negative effect on motivation, employees will find themselves reducing their work rate. Consider increasing the benefits you offer, bonuses, free lunches or snacks are a great way to keep people interested. They end up paying for themselves through an increased level of performance.

            5. Work culture

            Building a positive working environment is crucial for giving employees all the tools they need to maximise their resilience. Ways you can improve the culture are by being more transparent, promoting inclusion and diversity as well as regularly acknowledging good work.

            Promote leaders who listen to the people they are managing and are open to feedback and new ideas. Avoid hostile workplaces by maintaining friendliness, kindness and understanding.

            6. Teamwork makes the dream work

            Over time you will build relationships with your colleagues, these cannot be forced and will take time to grow. Having a good team means that people feel more supported, understood and inspired by others. A good colleague can be good motivation for someone to come to work each day, as they know they’ll have someone there who they like to see.

            Learning from those around you is an excellent way to build up resilience. Talk to people, and discover their beliefs and way of working. This may give you a good idea of how to further develop yourself.

            7. Be understanding

            When employing or managing people, it’s always important to be understanding. Different people will have unique requirements, so take time to educate yourself on who works for you. This allows you to potentially adapt policies or the workday for their individual needs.

            You’ll find, being flexible and understanding with your employees will result in better performance. They will be more resilient in strenuous tasks as they know they’re working for someone who cares about them.

            Benefits of workplace resilience

            Manage stress better

            Resilience can teach people to manage their stress levels by ensuring a healthy work-life balance. It prevents people from becoming overwhelmed or having burnout which will result in a sustained period off work. 

            This is not good for the employer, as more time off work means a higher workload for the rest of the team. This can seriously damage company morale and delay sales, affecting performance.

            Increased job satisfaction

            A study from the USA discovered that those with high resilience had a better job satisfaction rate. If employees have a low-resilience rate then they are four times more likely to not enjoy their job. Which, for a place they spend a significant portion of their time, is not a good sign.

            Resilient employees deal with obstacles in a better way, they love finding solutions as it gives them a sense of accomplishment. Due to this, they also have a more positive outlook on working life, leaving them satisfied with their current job. This benefits employers as this will reduce the staff turnover rate, meaning less time and money will be spent on recruitment.

            Increased productivity

            Challenging obstacles are common in all roles, and the way you tackle those problems will be what enhances your career. Resilient employees work in an efficient and effective manner, they maintain a high level of focus to ensure tasks are done to the highest standard.

            The more productive a worker is, the more or better quality work you will receive from them over their working week. This can lead to better results, which ultimately means bigger profits and a better reputation for your company.

            Better problem-solving skills

            If a problem occurs in the workplace, resilient people will see it as an opportunity to improve themselves and the company. They will have a creative mindset and look to think outside the box when solving and preventing obstacles. Ideas will come freely, and they’ll draw up multiple solutions for a problem, and then decide which one would be the most effective. 

            Improves leadership skills

            Leaders are crucial in any successful business, as an employer you need to be able to delegate important roles. Those with strong resilience make great leaders, as they set a positive example for others to follow.

            People look for calmness during times of crisis, resilient people remain relaxed as they know that will allow them to maintain good performance. Being calm results in more rational decisions, it ensures that there isn’t an overreaction to a minor occurrence that could seriously damage the business.

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