When you think of resilience, what comes to mind? A glass that can’t be broken? A rubber band that never gives out? Maybe you think of tree branches that bend in the wind but don’t break? These are all examples of resilience in action — and they’re all impressive, right? When we think about resilience as a concept, though, it can be a little hard to pin down exactly what it means. It’s not just about getting back up when you get knocked down; it’s also about learning from your mistakes so that you can keep moving forward even stronger than before. Resilience is the ability to adapt, bounce back, and persevere in the face of adversity. It’s a skill that we all need—and one that can be learned.

Why is Resilience Important in the Workplace?

According to the CDC, workplace stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and mental health issues. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unintentional overdoses accounted for 388 workplace deaths in 2020. In total, there was a 10.7 percent increase in fatal work injuries. These statistics highlight the importance of addressing workplace stress and building a resilient workforce. It is crucial for employees to be able to handle the daily challenges and stressors that come with their jobs. It enables them to maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated, even when faced with difficult situations. A resilient workforce is better equipped to handle unexpected challenges, such as a global pandemic or economic downturn.

Benefits of Workplace Resilience

Workplace resilience has a number of benefits for both employees and employers:

  • Improved mental and physical health: Resilient employees are better able to handle stress, which can lead to improved mental and physical health. They are less likely to experience burnout and more likely to maintain a positive outlook. For example, an employee who is resilient may be able to handle a high-pressure deadline at work without experiencing undue stress, which can lead to improved overall health and well-being.
  • Cost savings: Resilient employees are less likely to take extended time off due to burnout or stress. This can lead to cost savings for the company in terms of lost productivity and recruitment costs. Research from Harvard Business School has shown that burnout costs employers between $125 billion and $190 billion annually in healthcare costs.
  • Ability to adapt: Resilient employees are able to adapt to change more easily and can handle new situations with more ease. An employee who is resilient may be able to adjust to a new team structure without experiencing undue stress.
  • Resilience can lead to better decision-making: Resilient employees tend to be more level-headed and less reactive in stressful situations, which can lead to better decision-making abilities.
  • Increased productivity: Resilient employees are more productive, engaged, and motivated. They are less likely to experience burnout and more likely to stay with the company in the long term. An employer may notice that a resilient employee is able to handle multiple tasks at once without becoming overwhelmed, which can lead to increased productivity and efficiency.
  • Increased job satisfaction: Resilient employees are more likely to be proactive, take initiative, and seek out new opportunities. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment in their work. For example, an employee who is resilient may be more likely to take on new projects or volunteer for additional responsibilities, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Lower employee turnover: Resilient employees are more likely to stay with the company in the long term.

How to Build a Resilient Workforce

Creating a resilient workforce requires a comprehensive approach that includes both organizational and individual strategies. Employers can take a few steps to help build resilience in their employees:

  1. Create a culture of support: Employees need to feel comfortable discussing their struggles and seeking help when needed. Employers can create a culture of support by encouraging open communication and fostering a sense of belonging among employees.
  2. Provide training and resources: Employers can provide training and resources on stress management, mental health, and other related topics to help employees better cope with stress and adversity.
  3. Encourage regular breaks, physical activity, and healthy eating: Encouraging employees to take regular breaks and engage in physical activity and healthy eating can help reduce stress and improve well-being.
  4. Provide opportunities for professional development: Providing opportunities for professional development and career advancement can help employees feel more secure in their jobs and better able to handle challenges.
  5. Encourage work-life balance: Encouraging employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
  6. Reward and recognition: Encourage and reward employees for their efforts to build resilience and promote a positive attitude in the workplace.

Additional Resources

The National Safety Council (NSC)

There are a lot of things that can be done to build a safer workplace, but not all of them are practical for every employee or company. The NSC is focused on providing resources and information to companies that will help employers improve safety and resilience. Their goal is to make sure that every worker has access to information that helps them do their job safely, whether they’re working on an assembly line or in an office setting. They give you information so you can make smart choices for yourself and your team! Learn more about our partnership with the NSC to provide a comprehensive solution for employers to build a culture of resilience and overall wellbeing within a workplace.

NIOSH Total Worker Health® (TWH) Program

TWH, developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), focuses on integrating workplace safety and health with overall wellbeing. The website includes resources for employers, employees, and researchers on topics such as preventing workplace injuries and illnesses, promoting healthy lifestyles, and improving work-life balance.

Resilience is a vital attribute in today’s rapidly changing and challenging workplace. By focusing on building resilience in employees, employers can create a healthier and more productive workforce. It’s important for employers to create a supportive culture, provide education and resources, and opportunities for profession.