How to develop resilience at work

A recent webinar shed light on how to encourage greater resilience in the workplace, a key issue in uncertain times.

Group of varying age women sitting chatting and smiling

 

There’s a lot of talk about resilience these days as we adapt to life under the coronavirus pandemic. But what makes for resilience at work?

A webinar on How to Build Resilience in Yourself and Those You Lead last week by Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and Head of People + Performance research at the ADP Research Institute in the US, highlighted the Institute’s forthcoming Workplace Resilience Study. The ADP Research Institute focuses on human capital management and human resource management. Buckingham said that, while some people are more resilient than others, we can also become more or less resilient depending on what happens to us.

The institute distilled its findings into 10 main questions for measuring resilience. They tap into three main sources of resilience: the role of senior leaders; the role of line managers and personal responsibility. 

Senior leaders can create a more resilient workforce by emphasising the things that won’t change amid the current uncertainty, such as company values, and by communicating what is happening and the things that are certain, around which everyone can rally. To develop trust, they must also deliver on a few specific commitments. These do not have to involve grand announcements, but workers need to know that they have delivered. Buckingham said that the three questions that relate to senior leaders are about whether workers feel they trust their senior leaders, that their senior leaders are one step ahead and that their senior leaders always say what they will do. 

When it comes to what line managers can do to develop resilient workers, Buckingham says they need to check in with their team members regularly whether by call, text or Zoom. “It doesn’t matter how; what matters is that they check in frequently for around 10-15 minutes a week and that they give a team member individual attention,” he said. That is important regardless of whether they work from home or an office or somewhere else. That helps to build trust and ensures everyone knows what is coming up in the week ahead. Through building trust in the team, workers will feel that they can take risks which may be necessary in a world where doing things differently is necessary. The questions around line managers refer therefore to trust, feeling you are told what you need to know by your line manager and being encouraged to take risks.

Finally comes what each individual can do to build their own resilience at work. That involves feeling you have the freedom to get your work done, feeling excited by your work and believing that things will work out for the best. A sense of agency is vital for resilience, said Buckingham, adding the working from home can give people more sense of control over how they work. It also means focusing on the things in your work life that you can control and developing rituals to help you recover after stressful situations. Buckingham spoke about the need to be able to compartmentalise and to change lanes if something stressful and bad is happening in one area of your life you can find energy from another.

Buckingham warned that rushing back to ‘normal’ working life in the office is not necessarily going to make people more resilient. Indeed, the data shows people want to work in a hybrid way in the future – with more working from home. Change is not a bad thing, he added. In fact workers who have experienced more than five major changes in their working lives are much more likely to be highly resilient, he said.



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