Why preparation is key to workplace resilience

With the need for resilient staff ever growing but also increasingly challenging in a hybrid working world, Cyndi Sax explains how HR can best equip the workforce for tough times

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Conversations are taking place in boardrooms across the world about the challenges of dealing with change. It feels as if we’ve only just weathered the last storm when another shows up unexpectedly. It is predicted that over the next decade we will move through further cycles of survival, adaptation and recovery from the impacts of global events. And research shows this is already resulting in heightened levels of stress and burnout.

What’s more, since the scope, scale and pace of change has increased dramatically, many employees find there is not enough time to fully recover between incidents. It is incumbent upon organisations to create a safe place for their people, acknowledge that it is OK to be struggling, and offer them the development opportunities they need.

Unsurprisingly, resilience has become an important topic as individuals and organisations are being asked to repeatedly pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. Resilience – the capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks, challenges and change – is a critical component to optimise performance and maintain wellbeing. It acts as a buffer against physical and emotional exhaustion, which affects our personal and occupational outcomes.

The need for HR and L&D teams to equip employees with the resilience and skills needed for success is increasingly important. But this is made challenging by remote or hybrid environments, where it can be difficult to monitor employee engagement and burnout. We must consider ways to equip people with the tools to manage personal wellbeing and the skills to navigate each storm as it comes.

Link the need to business objectives

Analyse and articulate how developing resilience in the workforce will help meet critical business objectives, regardless of whatever external challenges are presented. Employees who are better prepared to manage and bounce back from stress will be more engaged and productive.

Recognise that resilience can be developed

Greater agility is required to navigate the rapid pace of change. To remain agile, new ways of developing psychological resources should be learned, as well as strategies to deploy when dealing with challenging situations. For example, reframing and reflecting on experiences can help optimise our ability to survive negative experiences and use them to learn and grow.

Take a personalised approach 

Once programme objectives are aligned to the business strategy, take a personalised approach to designing learning programmes. Consider both team and individual learning needs.

Some employees will inherently possess attitudes and feelings that they can tap into to be more resilient than others. For example, those who are naturally optimistic may explain and experience setbacks differently than those who tend to be less optimistic. Others may have difficulty finding the positive in situations and may be more prone to expect negative outcomes. Fortunately, resilience is something that can be developed with the right support.

Blend a variety of learning modalities

Accommodate and engage learners that work from remote locations, from the office, or a combination of the two by using a variety of learning modalities: digital learning, individual or team coaching, collaborative active learning experiences and others. For example:

  • Asynchronous, digital learning may be best suited to technical or theoretical content. 

  • Virtual classroom environments, using videoconferencing, provide learners with the opportunity to ask questions of the facilitator, engage in discussions that promote peer learning and encourage reflection. 

  • Individual coaching and/or mentoring helps participants access the support network that many crave in a hybrid work environment. It helps create space to explore the application of new skills in the workplace, seek feedback and share experiences.

Add validated workplace assessments 

To support employee self awareness, introduce validated assessments that measure and report on their natural strengths and development opportunities. What is their baseline level of resilience? In what areas would positive adaptations help to develop resilience?

The learning and development opportunities we offer people now are the key to future organisational resilience, regardless of which storm is brewing. By equipping employees and leaders with resilience, a critical component of success today and in the years ahead, HR and L&D teams will play a crucial role in the success of their organisations, while at the same time enhancing the wellbeing and individual success of employees.

Cyndi Sax is vice president of development solutions at Talogy