Employee Resilience: How organizations can empower a resilient mind-set

Written by Nisha Chandran & Manasa Sai

Resilience is an individual’s ability to bounce back quickly in times of stress or crisis. Sometimes, resilience is equated with mental toughness, whereas in reality resilience includes working through emotional pain and suffering. It involves developing thoughts, behaviors, and actions that allows one to recover from traumatic or stressful events in life. At the workplace, stress may manifest in different situations and can impact one’s ability to focus at work, solve a problem at hand, fulfil responsibilities with a sense of urgency and seek help when needed. Resilience enables problem-solving and motivates people to have an optimistic and positive approach to work and life.

During times of crises like the current Covid-19 pandemic, organizations need to focus on building resilience in their employees because it enables them to adapt to change, recover from setbacks effectively and overcome challenges quickly.  The business continuity plans or business contingency plans set by an organization needs to be fulfilled by a resilient workforce. How the employees perform during times of crisis defines an organization’s ability to succeed despite adversity. Although resilience comes quite naturally to some people, organizations can work towards creating a supportive work environment that fosters resilience in its employees. Resilience can be taught through structured training interventions and enabling change in attitudes and behaviours.

It’s time to invest in building resilience at your workplace

  1. Build resilience into BCP and provide a secure working environment:  Specific programs to build and enhance resilience in employees should be a critical part of every BCP (Business Continuity/Contingency Plan). When employees are faced with too many challenges despite knowing that some of the challenges will subside in the future, they will develop a sense of deep insecurity that will start manifesting in their everyday work. Enable psychological safety in employees by providing transparent channels for both upward and downward communication. It is important to create systems to proactively seek feedback and inputs from team members and respond to them appreciatively.
  2. Provide emotional support to employees and connect with them: Undergoing continuous learning, transformation, and change is a perfect vector for high anxiety and stress levels in the workforce. By embedding resilience in the culture of an organization, and demonstrating commitment at the top level, managers and leaders can ensure the emotional stability of their employees. When managers and leaders exhibit a calm and mindful disposition, with an innate ability to demonstrate empathy by listening to and connecting with employees at a deep level, it provides a great deal of reassurance to people across all levels.  
  3. Organize workshops, training programmes and coaching sessions: Through workshops, and training sessions, employees will get an opportunity to explore work-related stressors and learn how to manage them. Such interventions also help the employees develop emotional agility, which helps them to enhance their coping mechanisms and build resilience. Both Counselling sessions and Coaching sessions will enable employees to processes their unresolved issues and manage stressors in a more healthy way.
  4. Provide structured processes and initiatives to manage Uncertainty:  Uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges in today’s VUCA world and adding more structure in the day-to-day tasks at the workplace will make a significant difference in the lives of employees. Create and adopt structures that are precise, timely, and enable quick decision-making process that allows different departments within an organization to operate efficiently. Develop employee-support initiatives in terms of distress and crisis like offering financial support, medical support, professional advice, and other enabling support systems. Such initiatives will introduce a sense of stability and calm among employees, which will further contributing to their resilience.
  5. Foster a diverse and an inclusive workforce: Becoming diverse, equitable and inclusive is the best investment an organization can make. By bringing in more diverse personalities to an organization’s portfolio, employees will learn tolerance and will also learn to challenge their preconceived notions and manage feelings. Fostering an inclusive work environment will enable people to learn the ability to accept each other despite innate differences and will help them intentionally include others.

A resilient organisation invests in both physical, emotional, and digital infrastructures to make its workforce more adaptive and flexible in the long run. Resilient employees are less vulnerable to getting bogged down with obstacles. They see opportunities in unfavourable situations, and might gain a sense of meaning, and fulfillment from being able to work through them. Therefore, the focus for every organization, especially during times of crisis should be – building a team that can take on anything and thrive in the face of any adversity.

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