Some organizations possess cultures that have stood the test of time, while others continually struggle to define what their culture is. What’s their secret? Resilience. You can tell this as soon as you step into an organization that has a resilient culture vs. one that is not so put together. So what is resiliency and why is it so important to cultivate at work?
Resilience is defined as,”the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. And the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.”
We all can expect at some point or another that some outside force, whether it be nature, something socio-political, or even the simple evolution of the future of work, will impact all organizations. The world is a volatile, changing place. When a crisis or a disruption hits, the resilient culture is better able to adapt and pull through.
A study conducted by North Highland and HBR of 500 companies in the $1 billion revenue range sheds some interesting light on the state of cultural resilience.
- 88 percent of the respondents mentioned their employer had recently or currently experiencing a disruption of some kind
- Nearly half (48 percent) of the respondents advised increasing resilience in their employees was a part of their formal role within their organizations
- Only 12 percent believed their efforts to promote resilience were effective
- Less than half (41 percent) said they were confident to absorb a challenge without dealing with burnout themselves
We're reaching a point in business where we can see the changes coming on the horizon and we know resilient employees are the shield against that disruption but we don't know how to get increase that skills in a workforce. Whether your company is old or new, embracing the need for building resiliency at work is crucial. But how do you really go about walking the talk?
Why should management care about a resilient culture?
In most organizations, leadership sets the tone of the resilient culture, and employees pick up their cues and carry the strategy onward. One factor of a resilient culture, after all, is that people understand their place in the company and they have confidence knowing where things are headed. Managers should care about this because the resiliency of their team is a direct reflection of their ability to communicate the mission and direction of the company and to lead by example, demonstrating how they handle stress and change.
Resilience in the business world means an organization will survive and may even thrive when difficult situations happen. And looking back throughout the history of business we see this truth proven time and again when companies flounder. The human drive to overcome obstacles, when grouped together in a team, can practically move mountains. It becomes corporate resilience when the entire company bands together, solves problems, and works towards a bright future. That shared belief that they can overcome a problem, combined with expert leadership, often helps steer companies away from the rocks. On the other hand, imagine a company facing a big disruption who has disengaged workers. Instead of drawing strength from each other, odds are your workers will turn to polishing their resumes since one job is much like another to them.
And it's not just about weather future storms. There's also an employer branding piece at play. Organizations that are resilience also tend to attract high performance employees who themselves are adaptable and excellent problem solvers. They love to work in environments where they are appreciated for these talents. This promotes the culture of resilience even further.
Why is resilience important in a corporate setting?
A resilient culture helps companies survive change but to get there you need employee buy-in. These employees do not see themselves as victims of circumstances outside of their control, but rather as empowered individuals capable of riding the waves of whatever life hits them with. Resilience in the corporate setting equalizes things because everyone has something to share and a chance to solve issues as they present themselves. It’s the cornerstone of the agile workplace. So how do you get there?
Creating and maintaining a culture that inspires resiliency
There are many ways to create and maintain a culture of resiliency. Depending on where your organization is now, it can take some time to develop this kind of organization. We recommend the following methods for accomplishing a culture that inspires resiliency.
Start building more resilient teams
Hire people who have demonstrated resilience in past roles or promote employees who shown this ability. All organizations need good managers who are resilient in the face of challenges, so support your managers with leadership development training that includes resilience work. Reward your employees who go out of their way to solve problems, take things on that others find impossible, and solve customer issues effectively.
Reduce the hierarchy within your culture
Start flattening out the organizational chart with a culture that is less focused on hierarchy and more focused on respecting everyone’s contributions. Reduce the layers of management in the organization by re-assigning some to new roles, such as Resilience Manager or Employee Happiness Directors. Make your leadership accessible and approachable.
Eliminate redundancy and work overload
Employees cannot possibly thrive in an environment where they are continually bombarded with too much work. Many tasks can be allocated, outsourced, or automated. Find ways to design work types that don't involve piling on the work. Let employees decide what they can take on once a new project comes along or an old project ends. Stressed out, burnt out employees cannot see the bigger picture of the organization when they are buried in redundant tasks. They're loyalty and engagement levels also drop.
Define work processes and expectations
Make sure all employees are supported with clear work processes. Have management meet with employees regularly to talk about expectations and goal setting. Give all new hires a written list of their work responsibilities along with priorities. Give all employees the tools to succeed, with onboarding and systems that work efficiently.
The benefits of a resilient culture
As mentioned above, there are many benefits of a resilient culture. The first and foremost is that people know their role and how they can best contribute to the overall success and future of their organization. They are not discouraged by temporary setbacks, but rather excited by the possibilities. A resilient culture is one that is set for growth, innovation, and ready for the next challenge as we head into the future of work.