How to Build Resilience
How to Build Resilience

How to Build Resilience

Employee Learning & Development   — 4 MIN


In the last few years, the world changed in unprecedented ways. From the boom of remote work to the renewed push for DEI to become a core part of company culture, there are several changes to embrace. Research shows a sharp increase in employees seeking out mental health services as a direct result. How do we successfully face all these new challenges? One of the best ways for employees to thrive during disruptive times is to build resilience.   

What is resilience?  

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult experiences through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands. Every day, employees face challenges, some more critical than others. It is the way employees react to these challenges that leads them toward failure or success. Your most resilient employees know how to deal with uncertainty and face challenges with determination.  

Resilient employees can draw from their past experiences and think, calculate, and determine what is most beneficial to the situation and the organization. They are confident decision-makers and do not make decisions based on emotions or jump to conclusions.   

How can employees build their resilience?   

The business world can be challenging. From navigating high expectations, tight deadlines, difficult coworkers, and poor communication, workplace challenges are all around us. How do employees build their resilience to not only survive but thrive? One way is to move ahead rather than fall behind or stagnate. Resilience also involves positive and proactive thoughts, behaviors, and actions.   

Mindfulness is an essential component of resilience. Employees with real-time awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and surroundings can embrace their authentic selves. Mindfulness helps employees maintain composure and perseverance during times of stress. Employees can practice mindfulness exercises and learn to breathe and be in the moment. Clear minds allow focused thinking on how to overcome challenges and find solutions. Mindfulness sparks the ability to learn new things and fosters gratitude. Taking the opportunity to find and share something positive can change perspectives on a situation. Cultivating resilience requires a calm disposition, self-knowledge, and a sense of optimism.  

Building resilience is a skill that develops over time. Employees should ask themselves if they should stew over the decision or move the initiative forward with a positive outlook. It is a balancing act between idealism and realism. Is this a catastrophe or a solvable problem? How has this type of problem been resolved in the past? Leaders should be transparent about the realities of the situation. This honesty allows employees to respond with resilience. According to a study by the ADP Research Institute, employees need to understand and hear the realities rather than a downplayed version.  

This transparency builds trust in leadership and creates psychological safety, but it also allows employees to develop and strengthen their resilience as they know the situation's complexities.   

Building resilience also involves saying yes and pursuing stretch opportunities. Employees should make it a point to do things that challenge them. It is ok to push them out of their comfort zone if the company culture allows them to fail without fear of retaliation. Failure builds resilience in conjunction with learning the skills needed to achieve stretch goals.   

Employees should remember to give themselves grace. Building resilience is a step-by-step process of growth that requires patience, support, and awareness. Employees should be patient and kind to themselves when making mistakes. When employees feel discouraged, leaders can encourage them to shift their focus toward their past accomplishments to help them build confidence.   

Employees must also embrace change. If employees are averse to change, they do not learn and grow. Change can be uncomfortable and difficult. Employees that view change as new opportunities instead of new obstacles are more resilient and more productive amid disruption.   

How can leaders and organizations help employees build their resilience?   

An organization rich with resilient employees is typically more forward-thinking and innovative. Why?   

  • Resilient employees are receptive to new ideas and flexible. They are open to innovative approaches and processes and not afraid of failure. They also push back and advocate for themselves and the organization.   
  • They are optimistic and see the big picture even in the face of challenges. They know how to improvise when the unexpected happens. Challenges are solved as they do not fixate on the problems but on the outcomes.  
  • Resilient individuals live in the present. They move on and learn from their mistakes. There is no self-loathing, and their work continues and improves. They strive to maintain a healthy perspective on work and their personal life.   

Leaders and organizations can build employee resilience every day. It starts with reminding them of the impact and meaning of their contributions to the organization. A sense of purpose magnifies the need for tenacity. A simple thank you is invaluable for empowering employees to make decisions and take risks. Leadership support  helps employees progress forward rather than holding them back. Employee confidence grows as leadership acknowledges their value to the organization and empowers them to succeed and grow their careers internally.   

Performance reviews  and weekly 1:1s provide leaders time to discuss projects and performance and their employees' emotional well-being. Leaders can be a continual source of input by offering a different perspective and encouraging their team to face challenges with optimism. They can  guide  employees and aid in seeing them through to successful outcomes. When stressful events do occur, leaders should give inclusive feedback  to employees.  Talk  about what went right and wrong, how employees feel, and offer ways to improve or avoid the situation next time. Inclusive feedback helps the conversation remain centered around the employee holistically and emphasizes growth instead of failure. Leaders must encourage their teams to take PTO to recharge.  

Being resilient takes energy and mental strength. Employees need time to unwind, refocus and practice self-care. The organizational culture should encourage psychological safety and collective responsibility for workloads. Employees should feel encouraged to ask for help when needed without facing backlash.  In this ever-changing workplace, it is vital to remain calm, learn how to face uncertainty and setbacks and succeed. This mantra takes a great deal of flexibility. Resilience can also build by weaving a  learning culture  throughout your organization. Providing employees with a well-curated training library around resilient skills  such as  mindfulness, managing and adapting to change, building courage, overcoming rejection, and fostering relationships are paramount to their success.  

Productive employees understand that seeing the big picture helps them embrace challenges and grow. Resilient skills training is the first step in the process. Are you ready to learn more?  Click here to schedule a consultation with one of our learning experts to see how we help organizations build high-performing, resilient teams.