building resilience

Resilience is a psychological concept that, in recent years, has been used more and more in relation to organizational success. Organisational resilience can be defined as the ability to quickly recover or adapt to adverse situations or changes. Some authors even argue that the term “antifragile” would be more appropriate to define organisational resilience.

For this reason, building organisational resilience should be an aim that all organisations should aspire to. But how can we build resilient teams, especially in challenging times? This article will present some ways in which leaders can take action to encourage resilience in the workplace and in their employees’ personal lives.

What is resilience?

Resilience is frequently defined as the ability to adapt in a positive manner to adverse situations. In neuroscience, it is stated that resilient people are more emotionally balanced in the face of stressful situations, and bear pressure more easily. This allows them to have a feeling of control in the face of events and a better ability to face challenges. This ability to uphold challenges is often tested in events such as the unexpected loss of a loved one, physical or mental abuse, emotional abandonment, failure, natural disasters or financial instability.

Resilience is intrinsically valuable in academic achievement, organisational commitment, job performance and social integration. Resilience, which can be defined as an adjustment under accumulative stress, plays a valuable and essential role in the adaptation to multiple stress factors among employees.

Resilience and job performance

It is almost impossible to talk about work performance and success without mentioning resilience. In our pursuit of excellence at work, we will inevitably stumble upon challenges that will shake our self-belief, motivation, and even vision to succeed.

Resilience is what makes people carry on despite the difficulties that arise in the process. It is the factor that makes all the difference between quitting and coming out the other side, stronger than before.

From a neuroscience standpoint, the brains of resilient people do not look very different from those who are more vulnerable to stress. However, deeper research into the topic showed that resilient people do have better brain connectivity, particularly in an area associated with emotion and fear processing called the amygdala. In practical terms, this means that the better we become at regulating our emotions, the more resilient we can become. This is a crucial aspect for employees who want to succeed despite challenges in the workplace. Therefore, it means that leaders who want to build resilience at work have to start by supporting their team to achieve more stable mental and emotional health.


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How can you build resilient teams at work?

It goes without saying that building a resilient workforce happens intentionally, not accidentally. Leaders should ensure that appropriate support is offered to help employees overcome obstacles and organisational challenges as smoothly as possible. Here are some ways in which leaders and managers can help employees become more resilient:

Check in with your team

It would be a really good idea if managers had the chance to check in with all employees in private during a challenging time. You might have employees who have very low resilience and might feel particularly vulnerable if they have no support when going through a difficult time. If you know that some people are more crucially affected than others, make them a priority. Follow up on their wellbeing, ask questions, and let them know you care. During difficult moments, mental health should always be a priority, even before productivity goals.

Besides listening, leaders should also be ready to ask the right questions. This would allow them to see how they can offer mental health support. Bear in mind that some people might be reluctant to ask for help or talk about their feelings at work. For this reason, it is best to prepare some questions that open up a dialogue during crises and difficult times, such as:

  • How can I best support you at this moment?
  • Is there anything, in particular, you need at this moment?
  • What is something we could provide right now to make the situation a bit better for you?
  • Do you have any questions for us you think we could answer for you?
  • Do you have any feedback or suggestions for how we could handle this situation better?

Identify vulnerable areas in your team

Resilience in the workplace starts with knowing your team’s weak areas. Where do they tend to get stuck? Where have they shown consistent underperformance? As a leader, becoming aware of your employees’ weak and vulnerable areas is crucial for building resilient teams. Instead of assuming that everyone excels at the same tasks, start digging deeper into what might affect your team’s ability to undergo difficult times.

Take a look at each team member’s performance outside of the team structure to determine where they are strong and weak on their own. You may see consistency among those strengths and weaknesses working in the team or out of it; or you may discover that some employees have a different set of strengths and weaknesses when working independently versus working in a team structure.

Provide individualised mental health support

Employers should understand that different employees have different mental health needs and coping strategies. General mental health initiatives are great. However, they might still be inefficient in addressing individual mental health struggles.

Therefore, leaders and employers need to take the time to better understand how they can show support to each individual within an organisation to build resilience.

This can also be achieved by providing access to one-on-one support with a mental health professional. Therapy is confidential, effective, and tailored to the unique needs of an individual. It is also a great tool to cope with stress and challenges, obtain emotional support and engage in efficient problem-solving strategies.

Digital mental health providers such as SupportRoom offer flexible workplace therapy that can be accessed anytime. This can be highly valuable, especially in times of crisis when people need someone to talk to, at any time.

Key takeaway

Resilience is no longer something we can neglect when it comes to job performance, especially in the uncertain times that affect us right now. As the last social events have shown us, adverse times make us all vulnerable. But when we have a high degree of resilience, we can cope with them a lot better and come out stronger.

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