Building Psychological Resilience
Employee resilience must be a core attribute when considering organizational resilience. Although not called out in the definition, businesses prepared to absorb and adapt after crisis events focus on personnel first. Companies developing real resilience consider the capabilities of their employees first when moving towards a model that promotes ongoing agility.
As the folks at MeQuilibrum suggest, it’s no longer how well a person can perform in a structured, familiar situation but how people react and adapt to new challenges and circumstances. Achieving business resilience and including individual employees is vital to future strategic success. ICOR recognizes three measurements of the model: Leadership & Strategy, Culture & Behaviors, and Preparedness & Managing Risk. So, individual resilience is a 40-year-old discipline, but business leaders understand a resilient workforce must shift from efficiency to flexibility.
Don't forget your employees
I recently posted about Real Resilience and encouraged employers to build their workforce’s capabilities. Not everyone agreed with me. However, those who do not embrace this aspect of organizational resilience are missing this mark. It aligns with the adage that if your employees are not safe at home, they will not help during a crisis.
We’ve all heard the stories of essential workers abandoning their jobs because their families needed help after a disaster. Additionally, after September 11th, there is a better understanding of the importance of dealing with stress after disasters. Psychological resilience is just as important an aspect of company success as any other element.
Adding employee wellbeing to your toolbox
It helps if you add employee resilience to the toolbox. Yes, psychological resilience is not part of the ISO standard 22316:2017. Instead, the Organizational Resilience standard section 5.5 says that building a culture supportive of organizational resilience demonstrates a commitment to, and the existence of, shared beliefs and values, positive attitudes, and behavior. I suggest that part underpinnings of achieving it also focus on supporting employee well-being.
Overall, taking this approach enables employees to fast-track engagement in the process. ICOR, the International Consortium of Organizational Resilience, reviewed nine attributes of the ISO standard and determined that culture and behaviors are important to organizational resilience success. Developing an agile operating environment means engaging employees in a healthy culture, information-sharing, and continuous improvement.
People, where organizational resilience begins
Focusing on building up workforce flexibility strengthens the company’s ability it recover from an event quickly. There is a relationship between operational resilience and organizational resilience, but they are different. Operational resilience aligns with risk management. ICOR developed a capability assessment you can use to understand your company’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. However, none of this works without investment in your people.
Sixteen behaviors are present in the ISO Standard. The backbone of the recommendations is connecting the company culture and process. Logically, you want the workforce to be performing at its peak abilities to achieve successful outcomes while dealing with any systemwide shocks. Because resilience is learned, it makes sense for companies to inspire personnel to strengthen their ability to bounce back.
Backed by science
Science backs this up. We know that people with high levels of resilience are 60% less likely to suffer burnout. Thirty-one percent are more engaged, have a 26% reduction in depression risk, and half the stress-related productivity loss compared to those with low resilience. In short, people who gain resilience are happier, healthier, more engaged, and more effective (2021, MeQuilibruim, The Resilience Imperative). So, it is a no-brainer that savvy practitioners include considerations of individual resilience in their planning.
If we want organizations to operate at their peak strength in the new normal, a systems-wide application of resilience is reasonable. With a framework of organizational and personal flexibility, companies are well-positioned to withstand incidents. More than that, they are primed to thrive and prosper long into the future. Ignoring the health and preparedness of the labor force is a misstep, in my opinion, and one that any practitioner ignores at their peril.