It’s no secret that the working world is undergoing massive changes. From the break-neck speed of data automation and artificial intelligence to shifting social and geopolitical climates, it seems like employers face new potential disruptions every day.
However, there’s one thing that sets successful organizations apart, and that’s resilience.
Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming 90% of organizational leaders recognize resilience as a top strategic priority—a lesson many learned the hard way after the pandemic. In fact, 42% of companies agreed that the global crisis had significantly weakened their competitive position, signaling a need for more coordinated approaches to business resilience.
Maintaining a resilient business is critical—not just for organizations to remain successful in the face of crisis, but also when it comes to protecting an organization’s most valuable assets: its people.
Without a comprehensive business resilience plan designed to reinforce the wellbeing of employees, organizations run the risk of facing turnover, attrition, and disengagement before any real change can take place. Above all else, resilience starts at the ground level with real people running critical business operations.
And all of that starts with understanding what resilience really means and how it impacts employee wellbeing.
Keys to Building Business Resilience
Understanding Business Resilience vs. Business Continuity
Business resilience, often referred to as “operational resilience,” is an organization’s ability not just to withstand an unexpected disruption, but also adapt to changing circumstances.
In other words, a resilient organization is one that can continue to deliver products or services while working through and adapting to a disruptive event.
Effective business continuity planning and management are a key part of this resiliency, ensuring that organizations can respond to a disruption and initiate disaster recovery. However, truly resilient organizations are able to identify emerging risks and take a strategic approach to mitigate or overcome them.
And while a large part of that comes from quickly pivoting to new policies and methods of work to keep systems in place, organizations are only able to stay afloat with dedicated and nurtured teams behind them every step of the way.
How Employees Impact Business Resiliency
An organization can prepare for a potential crisis by focusing on operational resiliency—i.e., improving cybersecurity, bolstering its supply chain, or even building infrastructure to safeguard against a natural disaster.
But this business strategy only goes so far when employees are unable to recover themselves.
Employees play a critical role in the success and resilience of any organization. The Great Resignation was an undeniable example of how the fate of businesses and employees have become permanently intertwined. Employee attrition rates ballooned not just from growing socioeconomic tensions outside of their control, but from increased workloads, reduced vacation time, and insufficient support for unique wellbeing needs—factors that only emerged from the pandemic and couldn’t be forecasted by organizational leaders.
As a result, rather than suffer from acute levels of burnout and stress, employees opted to leave their positions—some even settling for pay cuts in exchange for enhanced wellbeing support.
What Makes an Organization Resilient?
When picturing a resilient organization, you might think of a business that always remains positive in the face of adversity. However, this expectation doesn’t capture true resilience, and it can even lead to problems later down the line.
So, how can organizations foster an unbreakable standard of resilience from the top-down? Here are five key ingredients to building broader business resiliency:
It’s clear the holistic wellbeing of employees lays the foundation for the success and resiliency of any organization. In order to ensure employees are effectively supported and nurtured, employers must take their needs and feedback into account not just during emergencies, but in every strategic decision.
But that doesn’t mean occasionally promoting healthy habits like exercise and nutrition. Holistic wellbeing varies from individual to individual, and considering all dimensions of wellbeing—physical, mental/emotional, financial, social, occupational, and purpose—can help employers analyze what specific resources or programs are needed to engage workforces.
Doing so will not only equip your employees with the tools they need to withstand any crisis—global, personal, or otherwise—but it will also ensure your organization’s most critical assets are always set up for success.
From an operational standpoint, transparent communication is another essential element of resilience.
A majority of leaders benefit from maintaining an open-door policy, allowing employees to express their comments, questions, or concerns without the fear of being reprimanded. These open channels of communication should also be two-way streets, enabling employers to provide regular feedback and recognition.
The goal here is to empower employees’ voices and make them feel supported, building a trusting work environment.
Employees value their own autonomy. Providing them with a sense of control over their work is vital for their occupational wellbeing, but some leaders are hesitant to let their employees make their own decisions.
Take, for example, the 90% of organizations asking employees to return to a traditional office setting, despite the 60% of employees who say it isn’t convenient to work in a physical office five days a week. Striking the right balance between autonomy and direction is a delicate process, unique to each organization—but it’s still essential to consider how decisions will impact employees in the short and long term.
Similarly, flexibility plays a crucial role in building organizational resilience. While this can mean allowing hybrid or remote arrangements, it also includes providing options like flexible schedules and PTO.
Overall, the goal is to provide employees with a better work-life balance. Not only will this reduce stress and bolster wellbeing, but according to the World Economic Forum, it can also greatly reduce attrition, with over half of employees aged 18-34 stating they’d leave a position if it impeded their freedom to enjoy life.
Finally, support from leaders is a vital part of what makes an organization resilient. Although recognizing hard work and special achievements is essential, leadership support should go beyond surface-level performance.
To show commitment to employee wellbeing, employers must consistently demonstrate empathy and active listening in every type of communication, decision, and action. Doing so will create an unshakeable standard for the entire organization, which could potentially inspire employees to adopt similar behaviors that build resilience.
How to Build Resilience Across Your Organization
As with any type of organizational planning, building resilience is a continuous process that requires leaders to proactively invest in and support their people. This starts by laying the groundwork for holistic employee wellbeing.
And while not all leaders will be comfortable providing the same level of autonomy or flexibility, they can still work on this foundation of wellbeing in other ways. Here are four steps to bolstering organizational resilience that will withstand any disaster:
1. Ground Actions in Core Values
Leading by example, employers must anchor everything they do in their organization’s core values. This means aligning responses to difficulties with the principles set out by the company.
For instance, innovation is often a central value of many companies, which translates to employers who demonstrate and encourage creative problem-solving. This allows employees to feel connected to the company's mission while fulfilling their own purpose and strengthening their adaptability.
2. Encourage Continuous Development
Whether through upskilling or reskilling, supporting employees’ continuous professional development can significantly contribute to their own resiliency—and by extension, the organization’s.
When employees have opportunities to grow their skills and advance in their careers, they feel better equipped to tackle both minor and major disruptions. Training programs, mentorships, and online courses are all great resources to provide, expanding skill sets for critical operations while fostering the crucial self-confidence that’s needed for employee resilience.
3. Leverage Tech to Boost Productivity
Embracing technology is another way to ensure continuity and build resilience. Modern productivity tools, apps, and platforms provide state-of-the-art features to help streamline tasks, reduce work-related stress, engage employees, and boost team-building.
Not only does this make teams more efficient, but it also leads to overall benefits as employees are better equipped to manage their workloads.
4. Design a Platform for Personalized Wellbeing Recommendations
An employee wellbeing platform combines investments in tech with an organization’s broader wellness strategy to cater to employees’ unique needs and goals.
With data-driven insights, this type of solution can recommend tailored activities and resources that each employee can work on while focusing on specific aspects of wellbeing. Tracking progress and providing rewards and incentives not only has the potential to boost participation and engagement, but it can also enhance employee wellbeing and fortify the ability to respond to and overcome challenges.
Foster Business Resilience With a Holistic Wellness Program
Looking to sew operational resilience into the fabric of your organization?
At WellRight, we specialize in delivering tailored programming to tackle holistic wellness challenges in the workplace. Our intuitive solution offers a centralized place for employees to engage in activities while providing employers with deep insights into the health and resiliency of their workforces. Reach out to one of our experts to learn more.