How to Improve Workplace Resilience and Boost Performance

Research from Leadership IQ found that 76% of employees aren’t resilient enough to effectively deal with the stresses of their jobs. As a result, they demonstrate unproductive behaviors including:

  • Spending excessive amounts of time trying to solve issues
  • Being unable to generate creative solutions due to burnout
  • Making careless mistakes from excessive levels of stress

On the flip side, the American Psychiatric Association says that resilient employees are happier, more committed to their jobs, more engaged at work, and overall more productive than their non-resilient peers.

Thus, one of the most effective ways to boost your team’s performance is to foster workplace resilience. Here’s how.



Normalize Common Challenges

According to the American Psychological Association, one of the easiest ways to build workforce resilience is to normalize the challenges your employees face. When they feel like it’s okay to struggle and that their leaders and colleagues have overcome similar issues, they’re much less likely to feel defeated and burn out.

Here are a few ways you can help employees embrace the challenges they face:

  • Have regular 1:1’s with your team and help them work through their roadblocks
  • Encourage your team to reach out for help when they need it
  • In your team meetings, congratulate people who have solved major challenges
  • Openly discuss your own challenges and share how you’ve overcome them

Creating a culture that focuses on supporting others improves workforce resilience by encouraging your employees to embrace challenges rather than fear them.


Foster a Growth Mindset Workplace

One of the biggest differentiators between people who succeed in the face of challenges and those who give up and accept failure is their mindset.

Renowned researcher Carol Dweck found that employees who work in a growth mindset workplace – their office promotes continuous learning and professional growth – are 37% more likely to feel a strong commitment to their organization and 49% more likely to think their organization promotes innovation than those who work in a fixed mindset team that doesn’t believe in employees’ ability to improve.

When employees are empowered to learn and experiment with new strategies in an effort to meet their goals, they are much more resilient in the face of unexpected challenges than those who are taught to fear failure.

To foster workplace resilience, you need to encourage your employees to adopt a growth mindset and engage in continuous learning. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Have post-mortem meetings. After your team completes projects, meet with them to discuss what went well, what failed and, most importantly, what they learned that will enable them to work more effectively on future projects.
  • Set individual learning goals. All of your employees should be actively acquiring new skills and knowledge that better equip your team to solve unexpected challenges. Depending on your employees’ interests, the goals can range from taking online courses to cross-training with another department to tackling experimental projects.
  • Help your team learn from the challenges they’re facing. When you hear that your employees are struggling with a project, ask probing questions and direct them to resources that will help them learn how to solve the problems on their own.

To learn more about fostering a continuous learning culture, check out our article:

How to Motivate Employees to Engage in Continuous Learning


Help Them Find Meaning in Their Work

Research shows that optimistic employees are significantly more resilient than those who feel negative about their work. Optimism drives people to succeed even when the odds are against them.

If your employees are stressed, you can’t suddenly make them love their jobs and feel like everything is going to work out great. However, you can help them find meaning in their work which leads to increased optimism and resilience.

Even if you’re managing a profit-driven team like sales or operations, you can still help them find meaning in their jobs by connecting their work to broader positive outcomes. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Explain how their efforts enable your company to pursue corporate social responsibility projects
  • Show the positive impact they have on the lives of your customers
  • If your company has socially-driven procurement practices, share the impact their work has on the environment or the lives of your supplies

Identify any positive impact that your team has and reinforce it with them on a regular basis so that instead of just working for a paycheck they feel connected to what they do and have the resilience to overcome major challenges.


Empower Your Employees to Disconnect After Work

Research from Virginia Tech University found that employees who feel expected to check email and complete other tasks during non-work hours experience higher levels of anxiety and conflicts in their work and personal life.

When employees are unable to separate their work and personal lives it hinders their resilience because they feel like they have to focus on one at the expense of the other. This prevents them from getting the relaxation they need to perform their best.

The solution to this issue is simple: have the leaders at your organization set the expectation of not sending messages or working on visible projects after hours. When they see their team working late or on weekends, let them know that they can finish the task the following work day.

If employees are no longer able to complete projects on time when they stop working evenings and weekends then you have to resolve the underlying issues that require your team to put in long hours.

  1. You’re overworking your employees and need to rethink individual workloads. This is usually the case when the majority of your team can’t complete their projects on time without working evenings and weekends. Depending on how urgent projects are, you can eliminate less important tasks, extend deadlines or hire additional employees.
  2. Your employees don’t know how to manage their time efficiently. This is usually the case when a few of your people are struggling while the rest are meeting deadlines. To solve this problem, provide the struggling employees with additional training and time management coaching.

Often, employees struggle to disconnect due to a combination of those issues so you may need to eliminate unnecessary tasks and give coaching.


Let Employees to Opt-Out of Unimportant Meetings and Email Threads

According to McKinsey, the average worker spends eleven hours per week on email. For most professionals, not only is email a major distraction from their core projects but it also lowers their resilience by making them feel unnecessarily overwhelmed by their inbox.

Additionally, Atlassian found that the average employee spends thirty-one hours per month in unproductive meetings. If they had a say, most people would skip half of their meetings to work on other projects.

Empowering your employees to opt-out of non-essential email chains and meetings can save them five to ten hours per week that they can use to focus on the tasks that drive their success.

Taking actions like these to eliminate redundant tasks can make your workforce more resilient by reducing their stress over their limited time and enabling them to find more enjoyment in their work.


Adopt a Futurist Management Approach

Helping your employees become more resilient enables them to more effectively solve issues. However, to sustain their morale and performance, you should also anticipate the challenges they’re like to face and help them prepare.

Adopting a futurist management approach enables you to do that by prompting you to monitor trends so that you can anticipate uncontrollable events that are likely to occur. Once you know the challenges you need to prepare for, you can adapt your plans bridge the gap between your team’s current strategies and your future goals.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re a sales manager and economic indicators are showing that your industry is likely to experience a slow down within the next twelve to eighteen months. Currently, your revenue growth goal for that period is 15%. Instead of continuing to pursue that goal using your current strategies which would likely lead to failure, you can take a number of actions to improve your team’s resilience including:

  • Strategize with your marketing team to develop extensive campaigns targeting the types of buyers you think are most likely to close during a downturn.
  • Lower your growth goal to 8% to 10% and identify ways to reduce expenses.
  • Work with your product team to lower the cost of your product so that it’s easier to sell when your buyers’ budgets are tight.

Taking actions to proactively address future issues prepares your team to effectively cope with the challenges they face.

To learn more about adopting a futurist management approach, check out our article:

How to Boost Performance Management with a Futurist Approach


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