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  • Writer's pictureJill Hauwiller

Shaping Culture: Resilience

Where does resilience fall on your list of healthy workplace culture attributes? As we continue to look at factors that shape workplace culture in this series (don’t miss the first two articles on leadership and communication), resilience is another element of culture that gets a top spot. Focusing on fostering a culture of resilience can have a significant positive impact on workplace culture and it takes lots of forms.

During the pandemic, resilience and the oft-associated umbrella of wellbeing were synonymous in some organizations with meditation, yoga classes and wellbeing workshops. Providing mindfulness resources like those available from the Potential Project or Center for Spirituality & Healing can offer meaningful benefits. Apps like Calm and Headspace were others that were added to employers’ wellbeing toolkits with the goal of supporting employee mental health. Employees who are taught resilience techniques are better equipped to manage stress and avoid burnout. These offerings and programs can enhance resilience within organizations but they aren’t the only things that organizations can do to boost resilience as a cultural attribute.

Before getting into other ways to build resilience, let’s consider why resilience is important.

  • Resilient employees are more likely to work together to overcome challenges. Team work is better which means that organizations see improved collaboration, better communication, and a stronger sense of community within the workplace.

  • A resilient workforce is better equipped to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to problems. Highly resilient employees may be an indicator of psychological safety in an organization. When employees are able to adapt to changes and challenges, they can use their creativity to develop new strategies and ideas without fear of failure.

  • A resilient culture is a learning culture. Resilient employees are more likely to be productive, curious and engaged in their work. They see opportunities and are better able to focus on their goals, stay motivated, and persevere through challenges.

Now that we have outlined a few of the reasons that leaders should value resilience, it’s time to turn our attention to creating or reinforcing resilience.

One place to start is cultivating the ability to maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of adversity. This can be a key factor in building resilience. Positive thinking helps individuals maintain hope and optimism, and can help them find solutions to problems. A word of caution — be mindful not to open the door to toxic positivity, which dismisses concerns. It is important to maintain space for critical conversations and emotions.

Positive psychology can play a significant role in the workplace by helping employees and organizations to promote wellbeing, satisfaction, productivity and resilience. Positive psychology focuses on identifying and cultivating positive emotions, strengths, and behaviors. This strengths-based approach helps employees recognize the values of their contributions, builds trust with leadership, and aids with problem solving. Instead of feeling defeated by obstacles, employees learn to view them as opportunities for growth and development — and the ability to bounce back is a key element of my definition of resilience.

Creating a workplace that encourages and values supportive relationships is another way to build resilience. Having strong, supportive relationships with peers, colleagues and leadership can help individuals build resilience. A positive team environment where employees feel supported, respected, and valued can help improve communication, collaboration, and productivity among team members.These relationships provide support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging that can help individuals cope with difficult situations. Implementing a peer coaching program is one way to create a networked and, therefore, resilient organization. Building in personal check in time at the beginning of team meetings and one-on-ones are other ways to strengthen relationships and build trust.

Finally, helping employees connect to their purpose can boost resilience because having a clear sense of purpose can provide individuals with the motivation and direction they need to overcome obstacles and persevere through difficult times. Several years ago, I worked with a leader navigating a challenging career transition. By focusing our time together on helping her to connect to her purpose, she discovered a range of potential career paths that she hadn’t fully considered before. She was able exit her executive role with grace and integrity while taking control of her future. Today she is thriving, fulfilled and making a difference in her new role. While this example is about an individual, the same power of connecting to purpose applies to developing more resilient teams.

A workplace that values and promotes resilience can expect more positivity, growth mindsets, better teamwork, increasing creativity and problem solving, improving stress management and coping skills, and enhanced overall performance. This is why I find that focusing on resilience is such an essential part of shaping and transforming workplace culture.

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