circle showing 9 dimensions of personal, team & business resilience

Resilience in difficult times

Resilience in difficult times is essential. Austerity and other pressures can drain energy and sap our resilience. And yet we know that energy and resilience are fundamental to delivering positive results, well-being and engagement. Here we offer an overview of how sustainable resilience can be fostered in a difficult workplace climate.

What is resilience?

Many define resilience as about ‘bounce back’; this is fine in respect of a trauma and significant life events. However the focus here is on resilience in the context of grinding workplace pressures, uncertainty and regular change. This type of environment needs people who can maintain their well-being and keep positive, every day.

Thus we regard resilience as being about strength and flexibility; resilience that can get people drawing on their workplace strengths to adapt and move with new and shifting demands. Through it all, keeping positive, motivated and able to energise themselves and others.

What are the benefits of resilience in the workplace?

There is a wealth of respected research now showing the importance of workplace resilience. The benefits can be summarised as:

  • Individual: reduced burnout; higher attendance levels and increased motivation;
  • Team: positive team work; increased collaboration and a greater ability to manage complexity;
  • Business/ organisational: higher productivity, improved customer service and greater workplace safety.

Staff engagement, retention and well-being are shown to positively correlate with resilience. On-going work is demonstrating this clearly through staff surveys and other robust approaches.

How can resilience in the workplace be developed?

There is a strong argument about the role of team leaders and we will take a brief look at these, however they are not our starting point. Each individual can do something to strengthen their personal resilience, however difficult their current situation.

A good first step is to be self-aware. To understand one’s own triggers and what works for you. Each of us responds differently, the important point is to know ourselves and be aware what triggers may get us thinking negatively and going down that path of limitation. The inner voice can be powerful, loud and destructive. We need to understand our own thinking patterns and notice when we are giving ourselves negative messages – be they about ourself or our situation. Once noticed, at least one can recognise it. That is the start of choosing to change one’s thinking patterns. Not easy but do-able.

One helpful strategy is to keep returning to a focus on strengths. Strengths in the workplace can be defined as those “underlying qualities that energise us, contribute to our personal growth and lead to peak performance.” (Brewerton & Brook, 2006).

Energise – to be resilient we need to manage our mental and emotional energy. You can check out your inner voice and ensure that you are using your energy positively, thinking about useful things and not going over unhelpful situations. A positive mindset will take us from that negative cycle to one where we are in control and seeking out a better way forward.

Personal growth – by actively taking on new opportunities one can stretch and, in the meantime, be doing something you like doing and feel that it is adding to your reputation.

Peak performance – delivering results that have brought together your skills, expertise and strengths will help you shine and feel good about yourself.

Based on working with our strengths, whatever the situation each of us can make some small step towards to fostering our resilience.

Team resilience takes in the bigger picture and engaging leadership is a key element to developing a productive and dynamic team that works by tapping into a network of relationships. Any team leader can adapt their behaviours to ensure that some of the key elements for a resilient team are in place. Here I explain how working with the 5 ‘A’s sets out a clear pathway for the team.

An image of the 5As - from aspirations round to achievement.

Aspirations – setting clear purpose and direction so that all team members feel part of a productive team and personally valued.

Awareness – ensuring that team strengths are shared and productive work practices identified.

Action – plans agreed to deliver team objectives, aligned to overall direction and team strengths.

Agility – flexibility in how people work together (we all know the unexpected will happen!)

Achievement – building in learning from all of the above, plus time to celebrate and share successes.

Resilience is vital to personal well-being and to team performance. It can be fostered and encouraged, whatever the context. The starting point is for each person to acknowledge it is important to them and to keep attention on how they can strengthen their own resilience. As this habit develops, others will appreciate the shift and gradually it becomes like a pebble in a pool – go on, drop a pebble and see where your ripples reach.

We are proud that this article has been published by CIPFA in their current network newsletter.

Please contact us to discuss how we can work with you to enhance personal, team and organisational resilience in your business.



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