Driven by exponential technological change and sociopolitical and economic uncertainty, the average lifespan of companies on the S&P Index is becoming shorter and more volatile. The pace of change is accelerating. Employers and workers are under immense stress to adapt to this quickly transforming economy, leading to greater concerns about exhaustion and burnout.
The fear of burnout means companies are increasingly aware that building resilience strategies for their leaders and employees will be key in navigating this market turbulence. Research shows that high levels of leadership resilience correlate with higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment and work engagement; but few companies fully understand just what resilience is or how best to cultivate it in their workplace. Rather, many employ decades-old management practices that are stubbornly out of touch with today's workforce.
Contrary to popular belief, resilience is not an inborn quality; it's a skill that requires practice. Here are three ways a company can begin to build resilience among its leaders and employees.
1. Start at the top.
An organization's leaders must talk the talk and walk the walk. They must model best practices and provide their employees with the language they need to think and talk about resilience. Leaders should build strong relationships with and among their employees, which in turn will create stronger support systems for workers to rely on in stressful situations. They must not wait to begin forming those connections during or after a crisis.
Innovative organizations dedicate time to both the initial learning efforts and conversations about what employees are learning. Conversations should be designed around helping employees debrief what they have accomplished so far and forecast where they should go next. Leaders must learn to tolerate failure and mistakes, knowing their team is working hard to move forward.
2. Go beyond simple well-being practices.
Many organizations already recognize the importance of supporting their employees' well-being. It is increasingly common for companies to provide their workers with free fitness classes, nutrition education or occasional visits from a masseuse. They may provide employees with mindfulness courses or give them extra time off from work. These are appreciated – and often necessary – steps to take, but they are ultimately insufficient if the goal is to build resilience among employees.
Leaders must work to make sure resilience initiatives are ongoing and integrated into the workplace. They must provide employees with dedicated time to focus on building resilience, and these efforts must be proactive, practical and personal.
3. Make it a habit.
Organizations must go beyond raising employees' general awareness about resilience and help them identify and commit to personal strategies that are the best fit for them. Resilience strategies should be integrated into everyday practices, starting small and building slowly into long-lasting habits. Employees should set specific goals and commit to them in view of their peers, and company leaders should set their own goals around how to help workers achieve theirs.
Resilience is about blending preparedness, responsiveness, and the ability to learn and grow into ongoing strategies that can help individuals and organizations navigate change. It's not simply about surviving – but thriving.
Co-authored by Shelley Winter, global head of executive coaching at YSC.