Broadly speaking, resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ when encountering inevitable challenges. The workplace is one such environment that presents a different range of stress to employees. Modern workplaces are characterised by deadlines, competition, and constant restructuring. The success of businesses today relies on employees’ capacity to cope, and even thrive under adversity.
Many believe that the key to success at work is intelligence or going above and beyond the demands of the role; such as working long hours or taking on extra commitments.
What then is resilience in the workplace? Why is it even important and can individuals become more resilient? The exciting thing about resilience is that it is a skill, and like any skill, with practice, it can be learned.
Perhaps the best way to think about resilience is to consider what resilient individuals do differently when faced with challenges.
Resilient employees build strong connections and relationships with others. These can be characterised by a number of features – including effective communication that encourages active listening and empathetic responses.
In positive workplace relationships, resilient people will do what they can to help others achieve success. They’re team-players who aim for a win-win situation with colleagues.
Social support also plays an important role in workplace resilience. It is beneficial to develop personal, as well as professional networks, which can be a source of guidance and support during times of stress.
In building resilience it is also helpful to have contact with colleagues outside of one’s immediate work setting. These people can provide validation and provide perspective or support.
Resilient individuals nurture the work networks they have developed, consistently building trust. One surprising research finding revealed that resilient employees don’t take the work environment too seriously. They introduce an element of ‘fun’ to the workplace, which further fosters positive emotions among colleagues.
Resilient employees are able to manage stress effectively so it is not overwhelming and detrimental to their performance. Another characteristic of resilient people is that they ‘practice what they preach’ and are authentic to their personal values and beliefs.
Resilient individuals show grit; that is, they have a fighting spirit that sets them apart from their peers. They have the passion and perseverance to pursue long-term goals. Resilient people are better able to manage inevitable change and deal with new scenarios more successfully. They are more skilled at dealing with setbacks and have the capacity to move on after they encounter stumbling blocks.
The good news, backed by research, is that grit and resilience can be practiced by self-inspiration, identifying ones passion, and sustaining self-motivation. Like most valuable skills, resilience and grit takes work – but is well worth the effort for the positive impact it can bring.