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How to Build a Resilient Workforce

February 21, 2021

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we must be resilient during extreme times of change like we’ve experienced during the pandemic.  However, new research shows that only 19% of U.S. workers possess a high level of resiliency.

The ADP Research Institute People and Performance team recently completed its Global Workplace Study 2020 which focused on the importance of resilience in the workplace.

They found that there are three main characteristics that resilient employees possess:

  1. A strong sense of agency (being a part of the team)
  2. The ability to compartmentalize work
  3. The ability to do work that makes them feel strong

HR and management can support employees in becoming more resilient by changing creating a culture that supports independence and encourages a growth mindset.

  • Focus on outcomes more than hours. Treat your employees like the adults they are.  Don’t micromanage, instead support a “grown up” mindset. Employees need to feel trusted in order to take ownership of their work.
  • Embed language of strengths into communications and programs. This will create an environment that allows employees to work on projects that energize them and allow them to do more of their best work. The Global Workplace study confirmed this by showing that workers who love what they do are 3.9 times more likely to be highly resilient. 
  • Establish weekly check-ins between team leaders and team members to ritualize this “grown up” mindset. This builds trust, accelerates productivity, and maintains connection. Time after time, our research shows that trusting your team leader is a foundational element to engagement — team members who trust their team leader are 14 times more likely to be fully engaged. The highest levels of self-resilience exist when individuals fully trust both their team leader and senior leaders within their organization.

Employees all handle change differently and have various levels and capacities for resilience. But by providing the right environment, you employees will be much more likely to thrive and be resilient during challenging times.  Resilient employees are also engaged employees, according to the survey.

Engagement and Workplace Resilience Are Related

  • 80% of workers are “just coming to work” and are vulnerable.
  • 10% of workers are both fully engaged and highly resilient.
  • 5% of workers are fully engaged but “vulnerable” – not resilient.
  • 5% of workers are highly resilient but “just coming to work.”

Trust in Team Leaders is the Foundation of Engagement

  •  A worker is 14 times more likely to be fully engaged if he or she trusts the team leader.

Higher Engagement Happens Virtually – Even During COVID

Pre-COVID-19 Virtual

  • 23% fully engaged
  • 23% highly resilient

During COVID-19 Virtual

  • 20% fully engaged
  • 18% highly resilient

Pre-COVID Office-Based

  • 12% fully engaged
  • 11% highly resilient

During COVID-19 Office-Based

  • 11% fully engaged
  • 9% highly resilient

Lastly, a surprising finding from the research is that people who have been exposed to the most setbacks and changes, especially when looking at COVID-19, have higher resilience. The survey found that workers with a higher personal connection to COVID-19 are 3.8 times more likely to be highly resilient.

There must be some truth to the cliché, “what doesn’t kill you make you stronger.”

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