Survival is nature’s most primal law. The fit lives on whereas the weak perish. As cold as this principle may sound, it deeply characterizes the nature of life on earth. However, survival has only become easier with time. Compared to our ancestors, our lives are much more stable and fulfilling. We do not need to battle ferocious beasts just to put food on the table. At the same time, bearing the weight of being human is still a tasking endeavor. Even though we do not need to hunt for food anymore, we still need to earn it. Furthermore, if 2020 is any indicator, unprecedented circumstances can make sustaining a job just as difficult as surviving in the wild. Therefore, it is no secret that resilience is highly valued in an employee.
Why do we need a resilient workforce?
Even before the pandemic disrupted our notions of normal, the ability to recover from difficulties separated true problem-solvers from cogs in the corporate machinery. A resilient employee is someone who will be open to challenging yet rewarding learning experiences. Such a person is more likely to weather everyday storms and add value to the Organization. On the contrary, maladaptive employees hamper team building, increase training costs and inflate attrition rates. So, it is clear why an organization cannot flourish without a resilient workforce. That brings us to another important question.
Is resilience something that can be taught?
Thankfully, the answer to this question is an affirmative one. However, cultivating workforce resilience is not a unidimensional pursuit. It is a holistic endeavor that requires engaging with your workforce on multiple fronts. Here are 5 areas that you should focus on to achieve the same: –
Preparing the Employees for Future Workplace
Resilience often comes from a place of preparedness. Just imagine how different the response to COVID would have been if companies had already trained their employees in remote work. The difference would have been astronomical. A big inference is that learning new-age skills is more valuable than refining legacy skills that most employees are already proficient in. For instance, creative and critical thinking have helped certain Companies fight COVID a lot more effectively than traditional business communication skills. Not to state that the latter has not been useful, but the former has simply been more relevant and useful. Organizations that identify out-of-the-box thinking will only benefit from being prepared to solve any problem that comes their way. Encouraging employees to hone their creativity and inculcating problem-solving attitude will prepare the Workforce for glitches and unprecedented situations.
Breeding fulfilment is yet another way of breeding resilience. So, incentivize employees when they make progress. Determine what drives them on an individual level. Is it recognition? Is it a fun break from the humdrum of daily targets? Or is it something entirely different? Once you Identify what works in motivating your workforce, address that with relevant response packaged to meet their needs. Help employees become more competent by exposing them to trans-disciplinary training. A competent workforce is more likely to derive meaning and fulfilment out of their work. Curating training sessions to upskill, reskill or even impart soft skills training sessions that will help post pandemic as well can help build a stronger, resilient workforce for the future.
Deal with Stress.
Are stress and general employee well-being interlinked with resilience. Does the employee ability to handle and deal with stress affect how resilient they are?
When employees can perform well despite external stressors, their belief in their ability to get the job done is strengthened. However, if they crash and burn, their resilience suffers. That is why managers and team leaders must facilitate stress-mitigation. One to do this, is to acknowledge everything that your employees bring to the table. Admire them for the extra efforts that they put outside of their core responsibilities. Appreciate team members who go out of their way to help others. But, most importantly, foster a work environment in which your employees are not afraid of reaching out to you. Ensure employees that the management is interested in learning about their daily challenges and wants to help.
Establishing two-way communication amongst employees and management is essential to cultivating a competent and resilient workforce. Periodic surveys help in achieving the same. However, make sure that you approach such surveys with a compassionate lens. Do not adopt a punitive stance on minor errors and let employees work at their own pace. Use surveys as tools to identify areas where employees can use your help. Surveys conducted regularly can help understand the pulse of the employees and get a sense of what they are feeling. Asking the right questions in the surveys can help you understand what the employees are expecting out of the Organization and can help chalk out effective communication strategy around the same.
Thereafter, address concerns thus determined with the goal of increasing team productivity. Moreover, you can also use periodic surveys to boost workforce morale. Share uplifting tips to sharpen focus and deal with anxiety.
Employee Mental Health
Only a mentally healthy individual can hope to practice resilience. So, if you want your workforce to tough out difficult circumstances, you need to help them keep their mental health in check. Even though stress management interventions and periodic surveys help, there is still more that you can do. For instance, you can aid with sessions that cater to mental well-being of your workforce from time-to-time. If you see signs of mental deterioration in someone, encourage them to reach out and seek help. Equipping and training supervisors to read subtle signs of exhaustion or mental fatigue among team members and providing support at the right time may help avoid a complete burnout. Yet again, anchor interventions in compassions and make fostering good employee mental health a part of the organization’s grand agenda. This needs to be a continuous effort for overall well-being of employees.
At the end of the day, cultivating a resilient workforce is mostly about addressing their needs and priming them to achieve their potential. Be resilient in taking care of your workforce and they will return the favor.
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