Today more than ever, organisations are looking to build employee resilience to help their people face the challenges that life and work throws at them. The ambition to build a resilient workforce isn’t a new trend; indeed it’s widely acknowledged that resilience is a key ingredient for successful change management and fundamental for driving businesses forward. However, with all that has happened this year, its importance has really been brought to the fore.
Recently, Qualtrics published its “2020 Global Workforce Resilience Report”, which makes for an interesting and insightful read. Despite what many would have expected, employee engagement during the pandemic has actually increased – this is largely down to leaders of organisations making communication a priority and taking the time to listen and interact more frequently. When times are uncertain, employees look to their leaders to provide information and reassurance. Many companies did a great job of this during the early stages of the pandemic, which resulted in an increase in employee engagement from 53% in January 2020 to 64% in May 2020.
Measures of Employee Resilience
In the report, Qualtrics identified three measures of employee resilience: self-efficiency, social support, and optimism. Now, while some of these measures may, on the surface, seem like internal personality-led drivers, to me, the report helps to demonstrate that resilience is something that people learn and that something leaders can develop in their people by sharing their own experiences and coping mechanisms. Indeed, the more senior an individual is within an organisation the higher their levels of resilience.
Unsurprisingly, employees that say they feel listened to also record higher levels of resilience. While the concept of listening to and acting upon feedback is fundamental to building successful employee engagement, it would also appear that the more engaged your employees are the more resilient they become. As more organisations become aware of the importance of resilience in relation to performance and employee retention, more are looking to revisit their more traditional approaches to employee engagement. If this research proves one thing, it’s that a well-considered employee engagement programme is fundamental to not only understanding your employees, but to building a resilient workforce and delivering your desired business goals.
The Key To Successful Employee Engagement
There are many articles and pieces of research that explore what makes a successful employee engagement programme. For me, and as I noted earlier this year in my blog, “Employee Engagement? It’s About Connection and Communication”, communication is key. By that, I don’t mean pushing messages out for your employees to consume, but really taking the time to develop two-way communication channels and listening and acting upon the feedback you receive. This is something that comes through extremely strongly in the Qualtrics report: “If there’s one thing you take away from this report, we hope it’s this: Asking for feedback – then taking action on it – is the single most important thing you can do to improve employee experience. This was key before the disruption of 2020 and it will likely hold true for the next one.”
However, when increasing communication levels and asking for more feedback, employers need to be mindful of the workloads their employees are carrying and be careful not to increase that. If the balance is not struck, employees will fail to engage and important messages will be dropped. Introducing engagement programmes that make the consumption of information fun, interesting, and useful, while providing an easy interactive mechanism for offering feedback, will make all the difference. Keep the time that individuals are expected to engage short, give them a choice of when and how to engage, and make it a good use of their time. Afterall, we each only have a certain bandwidth available to devote to such activities, this year especially.
Building a resilient workforce is surprisingly easy to achieve
Building a resilient workforce is actually pretty simple, you just need to get back to basics. Improving your employee engagement through strong leadership and effective two-way communication will result in a more resilient workforce. Take the time to listen to your people, understand their fears and concerns, and share with them what you know about the challenges or situations that are bothering them, and don’t be afraid to share how you as a leader manage to retain your resilience when facing difficult times. You never know, by taking the time to listen and communicate with your people, you may discover some useful coping mechanisms yourself and as a result increase your own personal resilience.
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