Resilience at Work – Do we need it more Than Ever?

Resilience means our ability to spring back and rebound – Our buoyancy to recover from pressure, stress, adversity, change, challenge and unhappiness.

Therefore, you would think that all leaders would create a resilience strategy to help their staff bounce back healthily from change, challenge and stress. If not for the sake of their staff then at least for the livelihood of their business!  Sadly this doesn’t seem to be the norm.

Amidst a few recent news stories, resilience is starting to gain interest and it’s no surprise considering the economic events of recent years, including

  • Austerity measures
  • Reduced workforces
  • Pay and promotion freezes
  • Change fatigue

It seems that a few organisations are starting to value resilience as a means to protect their future success, performance-well being and the longevity of their business. One or two realise that by factoring in resilience it can assist with improving staff and customer engagement. 

How can we get through tough times but still leave feeling sustained and vital?

Only this month, politicians were calling for resilience learning to be given to children in the UK school system.  It doesn’t stop there because the challenges of modern economic life are alive in practically every system we have; especially those driven by targets, performance tables and competition.

High pressured front line teams in the worlds of finance, the NHS, Policing, sales, retail and many more sail very close to over-stress, fatigue, burnout and disengagement because there is an absence of understanding on resilience.

  • What it means?
  • How it can be learned?
  • How to vision it?

Instead, there tends to be a bias towards shoe horning staff into ambitions that either erode resilience or quite frankly, ignore it.

How do you build a resilience strategy and what does it comprise?

Here are three essential steps

1. Vision it!  Your vision has to include resilience. If it’s not in your organisational vision it won’t happen – Simples!

Include specific details and initiatives of what your resilient workforce needs to looks, sound and feel like?

The difficulty many customer orientated organisations have is that around two thirds don’t have a solid vision for the customer (and internal customer) experience they want to deliver. We base this figure on two decades of experience and the amount of blank faces we see when we ask leaders to articulate the clarity of their vision.

It makes it very difficult to create a case for building a resilient workforce when you haven’t a well formed, clearly strategised vision.

And so when individual leaders or maybe one department such as HR wish to pioneer resilience to help their organisation perform at its best, it tends to get squeezed beneath the chaotic fight for priorities. It’s not perceived essential because the vision isn’t clear and agreed and therefore other leaders can’t see its relevancy and worth.

2. Believe it! – Does the way you treat each other affect the way you serve you customers?

Do you believe the overwhelming engagement research that proves collaborative and engaged internal relationships increase results, productivity, motivation and morale?

How many senior leaders are fully behind this research and allow this to inform both their decision making and leadership style?

If they don’t, it’s time to step up!

The science and research out there needn’t be wasted and is there to help you be the very best.

3. Create it! – Include learning about the brain, body and resilience from induction through to the most senior training.

Resilience doesn’t just happen. Its not about having a ‘can do’, ‘sink or swim attitude’, it works by understanding ourselves better and how our brain works for and against us.

In the last few years, neuroscience and psychology have dramatically raised our knowledge about how we can use certain practises that create optimum states for performance – Especially how we rebalance the human tendency to become caught up in over-stress, anxiety, threat and unhelpful over-drive.

We know the neuroplascicity of the brain means it can change if we learn to create healthy responses to the common, work based threats to our well being. But this doesn’t happen by chance, there are learned tools to take advantage of.

What’s the alternative?

Of course, there are many economic dangers of underestimating the threats to well being and performance and ignoring the resilience we need to achieve healthy working lives.

I can’t think of a decent reason to ignore our staffs’ need to build healthy, empowering-resilience, especially when it makes economic sense as well as being ethically essential but sadly in these post recession times it’s not happening enough.

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