These days, your employees have a lot on their shoulders. From balancing work and hybrid schedules for themselves and their families to staying healthy during a pandemic, several tasks compete for your employees’ energy. Building a resilient workforce and workplace culture is vital to employee satisfaction and retention and keeping the company moving forward.
What is resilience?
According to the American Psychological Association, Resilience is adjusting well to adversity, trauma, and other stressors such as physical and mental health issues, job loss, or financial concerns. They argue that as much as resilience involves figuring out how to recover from and manage difficult times, personal growth also occurs in these moments. Although some people are more adept at handling challenging situations than others, resilience is something everyone can build.
How can organizations build a resilient culture?
Even though resilience is an individual journey, embedding it into company culture starts from the top-down. Organizations must support their people by incorporating training, core values, and support into the day-to-day aspects of the company. By making resilience a part of the fabric, you are helping your people be ready when challenges arise. Deloitte Global’s 2021 Resilience Report outlines five traits that resilient organizations have that allow them to be agile and better suited to recover from setbacks.
These traits and findings were:
- Preparedness – Organizations that incorporated planning for both short- and long-term possibilities reported a more effective pivot to 2020 than those that didn’t
- Adaptability – CXOs (Chief Experience Officers) polled overwhelmingly stated that workplace flexibility was critical to their organization’s survival
- Collaboration – Organizations with higher levels of collaboration noted they had increased decision-making speed, risk mitigation, and increased innovation
- Trustworthiness – More than 1/3rd of the CXOs who participated said they were not confident that their organizations did a good job of building trust between leaders and their employees. Organizations that scored higher reported focusing more on improving communication and transparency and leading with empathy
- Responsibility – Most of the CXOs polled recognized that their organization must care about more than just profits. Out of the CXOs who responded, 87% said they have done well in balancing employee and stakeholders' needs and felt confident that their organization could adapt and power through disruption
How can leaders determine if they have a resilient team?
From CEOs to department and team heads, leaders are the driving force to building a resilient culture within your organization. For example, during Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Q4 earnings call in 2020, he said: “Even though we're apart, it's been obvious this year that around the company, teams and colleagues have been leaning on and counting on each other more than in normal times. I think that instinct, that resilience has been an essential part of how we have navigated this year.” No matter your organization's size or global reach, the impact of a resilient team cannot be overstated.
According to LHH and Ferrazzi Greenlight, there are four characteristics of resilient teams – candor, resourcefulness, compassion, and humility.
Let’s take a deeper dive into these traits:
- Candor – Do your employees feel comfortable having open conversations with each other without fear of retaliation?
- Resourcefulness – Can your team pivot and generate new solutions when problems or delays arise?
- Compassion – Do employees (and their leaders) genuinely care for one another and join in celebrating everyone’s success and collaboratively working through failure?
- Humility – Does your team feel comfortable acknowledging and asking when they need help?
These components of resilient teams are a great starting point for your leaders to analyze their teams and determine where the gaps are and how they and the organization at large can better support employees.
How can leaders build resilience within their teams?
As your leaders navigate managing employees remotely or on a hybrid schedule, HBR.com suggests creating a “Resilience Inventory Dashboard” to check in with people and understand their personal situations and how best to support them. By establishing a direct line with employees, leaders create a culture of belonging – a crucial component of building resilience within their teams. The Go Forward to Work initiative brought together thought leaders from various industries and levels to determine how to best nurture resilience amongst your employees.
These are a few of their suggestions:
- Candid breaks – Giving employees the opportunity to speak their minds and share their feelings and concerns. These breaks give anyone the ability to schedule a meeting and provide the option to utilize small groups to increase the level of psychological safety and foster deeper discussion.
- Third-party advice – Leaders can build resilience by bringing in a subject matter expert from outside the organization to provide objective insights and solutions for improving team resilience and offer best practices from other companies.
- Temperature checks – Leaders can open team meetings by doing a status check of everyone and asking them to rate their energy, mood, and capacity to determine if adjustments are needed.
- Commit to building each other up – The initiative refers to this process as “co-elevation”. Leaders can improve this effort by creating shared support expectations amongst the team. We all encounter situations where our plates become too full, and sharing the workload is the best way to ensure that our people don’t burn out and things don't fall between the cracks. By building a culture of collective responsibility, employees understand that when they have the bandwidth, they should support their colleagues and in turn, can receive that support when they need it. This expectation should also apply to your leaders, ensuring that they pick up the load from their teams if needed.
Running an organization and managing a team during disruption is no easy task. Arming your leaders with tools and learning to support their teams and help them build resiliency is an immeasurable benefit to ensuring that the organization achieves its goals and that your employees feel secure in their roles and have the capacity to take on whatever challenges they face at work and in the world around them. (Break that sentence up somehow? It’s pretty long) Building resilient teams and a resilient workforce is not just good business – it's good for humanity.
For more resources, check out these free lessons on resilience, embracing change, and other important skills for today’s workforce!