October 22, 2019

Creating a culture of resilience: Enabling your organization to survive and thrive


If you have ever found yourself muttering the phrase, “change is the only constant in life,” you’ll appreciate the importance of resiliency. It is also a critical characteristic to foster in your organization. Resilient employees experience increased productivity, lower turnover, and have lower health care costs. On the other hand, organizations that lack a culture of resilience have more stressed employees, and this stress is proven to manifest itself in high turnover and increased presenteeism and absenteeism.

The reality is that wherever you live or work, stress is on the rise. According to the International Labour Organization, workers in developed and developing countries are facing increasing strain at work. Against this backdrop, a resilient workforce that can “roll with the punches” or “bounce back” from increasing demands or constant change is a significant competitive advantage. The question remains: how do you build a culture of resiliency in your organization?

Undoubtedly, encouraging recuperation is critical here. As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz argue, if you have too much time in the performance zone, you need more time in the recovery zone; otherwise, you risk burnout. In fact, according to Project: Time Off, people who take all of their vacation days have a 6.5% higher chance of getting a promotion or a raise than people who leave 11 or more days of paid time off on the table.

Beyond encouraging your staff to use their vacation and personal days, what else can your team do to build resiliency? It turns out; there’s a lot. Here are three steps that HR leaders can take to promote resiliency within their organizations.


Encourage Healthy Physical Practices

Promoting proper sleep, good nutrition, and exercise, helps individuals to cope well with pressure and stress. In her widely quoted book, The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington writes, “We sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity, but ironically our loss of sleep, despite the extra hours we spend at work, adds up to 11 days of lost productivity per year per worker, or about $2,280.” It goes without saying that when your employee’s physical and mental health is suffering, they are less resilient.

Your organization can play a role in preventing this by promoting physical well-being through a wellness program that inspires physical activity, healthy eating, and mental health awareness. Many companies turn to health and wellness platforms like Sprout to implement and manage these wellness programs. These platforms can, in turn, increase employee engagement through gamification, rewards, and incentives.

Check out the Guide: How to Build a Performance-Driven Culture

Help Build Social Networks in the Office

Having positive relationships can make coming to work more enjoyable. These relationships also mean that you’ll have a strong support network when you need it. Employers who support social connections in the workplace and help employees form strong bonds with one another helps build a thriving workforce. In fact, a SHRM study found that relationships with coworkers were identified as the top driver of employee engagement, with 77% of participants listing these connections as a priority.

Part of creating a general culture of wellness includes fostering these social connections and supporting social well-being among employees. HR leaders can achieve two goals at once when they leverage team wellness challenges to encourage these social networks. For example, a team walking challenge brings colleagues together and can inspire friendly departmental competition. Daily walking clubs are another excellent idea that can also be used to encourage social connections.


Promote Flexibility

While individual companies and teams differ in the level of flexibility they can offer their employees, implementing flexible work arrangements or flexible working hours can do wonders. Research by the Sloan Foundation’s National Workplace Flexibility Initiative has shown that being able to control some elements of their jobs provides employees with the room to grow resilience. For example, letting the team manage their schedules, encouraging flexible start and finish times, and the freedom to duck out for an appointment can all have an incredible impact on engagement and job satisfaction.

Successful companies can confidently face challenges as they arise, solve problems quickly, navigate changing marketplaces, and survive setbacks and adversity. To do this, they rely on a resilient workforce. A culture of resilience comes from an environment where employees feel supported and can bounce back from the stress of life. Building this culture takes more than encouraging a cycle of slogging and recharging. It requires a holistic approach that takes into consideration both an employee’s mental and physical well-being. By implementing a multi-faceted approach, you set your organization up for success in the increasingly hypercompetitive, fast-paced global economy.


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