Resilience at Work: Why it Matters

Resilience at Work

Resilience is usually defined as the capacity to go through difficult times and adjust to new situations. Nowadays, in the work environment, substantial changes seem to happen more often, as job tasks are reorganised and displaced. In dealing with these changes, some people manage to adjust more easily than others. There is a great difference between the workers who, faced with change, react with anger and reluctance, and those who display genuine interest, treating changes as opportunities.

Employers all around the world face two challenges when it comes to resilience: The first one is to determine which people exhibit “resilient” traits, while the second one is to enhance the resilience of the current employees. Resilience characteristics such as Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Adversity Quotient (AQ) are on their way to being as important as conventional skills and intelligence quotient (IQ).

Resilience can be the seen as a trait that’s the complete opposite of vulnerability. People characterized as “resilient” can better withstand the mental anguish that occurs in stressful circumstances because they have a positive attitude and keep being focused, organised, and dedicated. Virtually all of the today’s companies go through a lot of fast paced changes, affecting all tasks that need to be done by employees. This has sparked a search for a new kind of employee, one that can quickly adjust to new situations, work well in teams and improve and expand his or her skill set constantly. The ability to motivate oneself, as well as to learn and manage new skills, is fundamental to the modern work environment. After all, the ever-changing jobs demand a continuous learning process.

Every person is different on many levels, one being known as the “locus of control”. Defined as the degree to which people believe that they control their lives, the locus of control can be internal or external. Individuals who believe that their life path is determined by things they can control such as their skills, abilities, and efforts, are the ones with an internal locus of control. Consequently, these people are also the most resilient. When a problematic situation arises, chances are that they’ll search and eventually find a solution that will solve the problem and improve the overall experience.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, people with an external locus of control believe that life is fundamentally influenced by factors beyond their control, such as destiny, chance or luck. These individuals find guidelines as well as a clear hierarchy much more pleasing. Many of them have benefited from an old educational system that didn’t prioritise self-learning and improvement. Because of this, they also prefer a well-defined job description. When a failure occurs, these employees will most likely blame it on things like workload, bad management, and misunderstandings. Numerous studies have shown that the individuals who believe that their job is stressful are also the ones displaying the least resilience, while those who possess problem-solving abilities are much more resilient.

When a manager has a team member with an external locus of control, he or she should encourage and empower him to take more responsibility by using specific questions such as “ what solutions do you think are appropriate?”, “What can I do to help you accomplish this?” etc.

Ways of nurturing resilience in organisations

  • Develop mentorship programs within the organisation
  • Implement a job rotation system so that employees adapt to new situations
  • Foster independent thinking through a diminished control and supervision
  • Create situations that require multitasking and improvisations
  • Involve the employees in the process of diminishing the effects of failed projects
  • Involve as many employees as possible in activities that help the organisation evolve and change
  • Encourage involvement in charitable activities
  • Emphasise the importance of focusing on strong abilities

Methods of increasing personal resiliency

  • Embrace a healthy lifestyle
  • Create support systems in order to gain new perspectives
  • Enhance your self-awareness, especially when it comes to your reactions to stress and other people
  • Set clear goals and adjust them constantly
  • Cultivate problem-solving skills
  • Keep your attention on the situation, and not on your reactions
  • Assess what’s under your control and what isn’t

In our current times, organisations are constantly changing, and the need for employees who can quickly adapt to new situations, learn new skills, and work well in teams is growing at a fast pace. Assessments – either at recruitment time or later on – can prove extremely beneficial to both organisations and individuals. These assessments can offer invaluable insights that can help individuals and organisations increase their resilience.

Today, resilience is not viewed as a skill that you were either born with or not, but rather as one that can be developed and learned by anyone who desires.

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