How to Build Workforce Resilience

Business Continuity Forum

Insights from the Continuity Conference

To build workforce resilience, you first need to understand business resilience. Business resilience refers to the ability of an organization to withstand and adapt to significant disruptions, such as economic downturns, natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or other unexpected events that can threaten its operations, reputation, and financial stability. It involves anticipating and preparing for potential risks and challenges. It also includes implementing strategies and processes that allow a business to recover quickly and continue to operate in the face of adversity. Business resilience also includes identifying and capitalizing on opportunities for growth and innovation, even amid difficult circumstances. Ultimately, business resilience is about building a strong, flexible, sustainable organization that thrives in a constantly changing environment.

While participating in the 21st Annual Continuity Insights Conference last week, I had several conversations with colleagues about the importance of personal flexibility and endurance. Of course, this was about how individuals need to be able to “bounce back” when an organizational crisis or adverse event occurs. In a recent blog, I shared my thoughts on Why Workforce Resilience Matters, but I want to follow up with a roadmap to build it as a program offering. Keep reading to learn more.

Employees Need Support More Now Than Ever

A Tipping Point for Resilient Employees

Personal resilience is a critical element of an organization’s success. But, I would argue that you need a tipping point or a majority of your employees with solid capabilities to call your company resilient.

Firstly, resilient employees are better equipped to cope with stress, uncertainty, and adversity, which are common in today’s fast-paced and volatile business environment. They are more adaptable, agile, and able to bounce back from setbacks, which helps them to maintain productivity and motivation even in difficult times.

Secondly, resilient employees are likelier to be engaged and committed to their work. They feel supported and valued by their organization, which enhances their sense of belonging and purpose. This can lead to higher job satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.

Thirdly, resilient employees can help to build a resilient organization. They are more likely to take initiative, innovate, and collaborate to solve problems and improve processes. They can also serve as role models and mentors for their colleagues, helping to spread a culture of resilience throughout the organization.

Finally, building workforce resilience is suitable for employees and the organization, customers, stakeholders, and society. Resilient organizations are better able to deliver quality products and services, maintain trust and reputation, and contribute to the well-being of their communities.

Struggling Employees Fail In A Crisis

The Inherent Risks of an Unresilient Workforce

A business that does not have workforce resilience is at risk of several negative consequences:

  1. Reduced productivity and efficiency: Employees who are not resilient may struggle to cope with stress and challenges, leading to reduced productivity and efficiency. This can result in missed deadlines, decreased quality of work, and lower customer satisfaction.

  2. Increased absenteeism and turnover: Unresilient employees may experience burnout or other health issues, leading to increased absenteeism and turnover. This can result in higher costs associated with recruitment, training, and lost productivity.

  3. Poor morale and engagement: Employees who are not resilient may feel unsupported, undervalued, and disengaged. This can lead to low morale, increased conflict, and a lack of commitment to the organization’s goals and values.

  4. Reputation damage: A business that is not resilient may struggle to manage unexpected crises, such as a data breach or a natural disaster. This can damage the organization’s reputation, decreasing customer loyalty and revenue.

  5. Missed opportunities for growth and innovation: Businesses that lack employees that bounce back may struggle to adapt to changing market conditions or seize opportunities for growth and innovation. This can result in a loss of market share, decreased revenue, and, ultimately, the failure of the business.

In summary, a business without workforce resilience risks decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and turnover, poor morale and engagement, reputation damage, and missed opportunities for growth and innovation. This is compounded when crises occur. 

Disaster Behavioral Health

Public Experience Transferable to Business

Now that you know the importance of building resilience across the organization, let’s dive into how to build workforce resilience. I served as SAMHSA State Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator for over eight years. It was post-September 11 Attacks, and people acknowledged the need for a national network to provide Psychological First Aid post-disasters.  

Now, there’s a groundswell of people discussing the importance of practicing emotional first aid personally. On top of that, both public and private entities are embracing Mental Health First Aid. Its proponents are working to make it a common practice, like people trained in CPR. Assuming all these preventative measures, I sincerely hope we can achieve workforce resilience. People will always experience their well-being journey, but we can do much better promoting its many attributes, including ongoing self-care practices. Let’s not let workforce resilience be the elephant in the room no one addresses, especially in these unprecedented times.

Creating Resilient Employees

How To Build A Culture of Workforce Resilience

Here are some strategies for building resilience across your workforce:

  1. Promote a culture of resilience: Leaders should communicate the importance of resilience and create a work environment that supports and encourages employees to develop resilience skills. This includes promoting work-life balance, providing resources for stress management, and fostering a positive and supportive workplace culture.

  2. Offer training and development opportunities: Providing training and development opportunities for employees can help them to develop skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence. This can enhance their resilience and ability to cope with stress and adversity.

  3. Support mental health and well-being: Promoting mental health and well-being is essential for building resilience. This includes offering employee assistance programs, providing access to mental health resources, and encouraging employees to take breaks and prioritize self-care.

  4. Foster social connections: Building solid social relationships at work can help employees feel supported and connected, enhancing their resilience. This includes promoting team-building activities, providing opportunities for social interaction, and encouraging collaboration and communication.

  5. Lead by example: Leaders should model resilience by demonstrating their ability to cope with stress and adversity and promoting a growth mindset and positive outlook. This can inspire employees to develop their resilience skills and adopt a similar attitude.

  6. Encourage learning from failure: Encouraging employees to learn from failure and mistakes can help them to develop resilience and adaptability. This includes promoting a culture of experimentation and risk-taking and providing opportunities for reflection and feedback.

In summary, building resilience across a workforce involves promoting a culture of resilience, offering training and development opportunities, supporting mental health and well-being, fostering social connections, leading by example, and encouraging learning from failure.

Employees Need Emotional Support

When will we Acknowledge the Elephant?

The focus of this year’s Continuity Insights Conference was Operational Resilience. And I completely get that. It’s a hot topic everyone is wondering about and questioning its impact on the industry. There were great speakers, and Robert Nakao did a fantastic job. However, no Operational or Organizational buoyancy occurs without a company’s people. 

Sadly, not one person–including myself–addressed the issue at the conference. There was some focus on building continuity for remote workers and a spotlight on managing your career. However, although cyber and OpsRes dominated the conference topics, no one tackled the personal side of plasticity. I have hope; however, just like disaster behavioral health, it will gain traction over time and receive the required attention. Maybe I will present at a future conference or, better yet, be sitting in on your session. Let’s not let it continue to ignore the elephant in the room.

Did you know?

Disaster Empire blogs contain embedded links to source materials, articles of interest, videos, books, and training I recommend. Just click on the blue embedded link to access the resource.

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