(‘Resilience series’ – Part 1: What is Resilience and How to Recognise it in Your People?)
Why are some businesses investing considerable time, energy and money into building a resilient culture?
We are living in a world where the only thing we can be certain of, is that things are constantly changing. Organisations and employees are facing a turbulent, surprising, continuously evolving marketplacecombined with longer hours, shorter contracts, tighter margins and internal structure changes.
Employees are under pressure to constantly adapt and the stress this can lead to undermines their mental resilience and performance, which in turn undermines the performance of their organisation.
Like living organisms that naturally adapt to their context or they die, organisations that fail to adapt to this ever-changing world will not survive. As Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution shows, ‘It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change’.
Only the ‘fittest’ organisations that can respond to external events and adapt rapidly to their changing ecosystems will survive and thrive.
Only well-prepared, flexible, agile, dynamic organisations with the ability to change continuously and effectively will prosper. And only resilient organisations made up of resilient employees are built for this.
Investing in employees’ health and wellbeing at work is a foundation to organisational resilience.
Providing staff with training and support to increase health and connection to their work will decrease chronic stress (a widely prevalent and growing problem), improve employee engagement and ultimately productivity.
The WHO says that for every dollar invested in employee wellbeing, 4 dollars are earned back in increased employee retention and productivity (WHO, 2019). Providing training and support to employees as they navigate ever-changing and demanding work environments makes good business sense.
Why should an organisation not just get rid of the employees who are stressed, less engaged and less productive and hire new ones?
McKinsey published ‘The War for Talent’ in the 1990s, but then the international financial crisis of 2008 hit and talent management was deprioritised. Research by the Deloitte Center for the Edge found that over the last 55 years the average company tenure on the S&P 500 has declined from 67 years to 15 years and the average tenure of a senior leader is 3 years.
It is perhaps not surprising that executives tend to have short-term goals, focused on minimising costs to drive profit and paying more attention to process and technology transformation than to the people element.
But talent management is back and high on the agenda. A global survey of chief executives by KPMG in 2014 found that the struggle to find skilled employees was the 2nd biggest challenge facing business leaders. Only 18% of Western firms say they have enough talent. Towers Watson found that 59% of companies have trouble finding skilled employees.
Retention now needs to be a key priority as the ability to attract and retain skilled and talented people is a powerful competitive advantage and developing people will prove much less costly than recruitment.
Organisations that are focusing on resilience are thriving and delivering better results: a culture of resilience improves the performance of people and organisations.
Resilient employees are correlated with increased goal attainment (Grant et al, 2009), productivity, lower turnover, have lower healthcare costs (Lee, 2008) and higher levels of motivation and commitment.
In research findings, business consultants who rated higher on emotional resilience had more billable hours and better client relationships. UK Health Risk Assessment data shows a clear statistical correlation between higher levels of resilience and better work performance, with emotional resilience as the most influential factor in predicting performance in UK workers (TRACOM GROUP, 2018).
Research also shows that employees with resilience training are 22% more likely to be personally unaffected during stressful situations, 14% more likely to stay engaged in their work in periods of high stress, 15% more likely to initiate appropriate action to challenges at work, less afraid of unexpected changes and 15% more actively supportive of change at work and able to refocus their efforts.
Investing in resilience of your employees just makes good business sense, as it simply means investing in the future of your organisation.
We have recently published a white paper “Why the Smartest Businesses are Investing in Building Resilience”, which contains extensive research, best practices and case studies on resilience in human capital. It sets out the business case for building resilient work cultures and provides some guidance on how to make this happen.