Work can be stressful. Building resilience in the workplace is essential to thriving in the face of challenges, setbacks, and failures. Smart, empathetic business leaders empower people to be self-aware, persistent, and flexible. And they understand how crucial it is to adapt to adversity to pursue success.

Let’s explore why resilience in the workplace is essential to individual and business success and how you can improve it in your organization.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is resilience in the workplace?

Resilience in the workplace is the ability to maintain a sense of purpose and optimism in the face of adversity, stress, or change at work. It closely relates to psychological and emotional strength, self-awareness, and persistence. It’s about realizing opportunities for growth and understanding and recognizing that everyone makes mistakes. It’s not about avoiding setbacks or pretending a setback didn’t occur.

Resilient people are proactive and always prepared to address the next challenge. They possess a unique combination of cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal skills that power their ability to bounce back. Resilient characteristics include:

  • Self-efficacy and flexibility: Resilient people are confident. They possess critical skills and abilities to cope with challenges. They are open to new ideas and perspectives without ego. And they are flexible – recognizing and adjusting their approach when a strategy is not working.
  • Self-awareness and emotional regulation: Aware of their thoughts and reactions to stress, resilient people recognize feelings of overwhelm early and take steps to prioritize mental health. They set clear boundaries. Saying no to commitments or situations that add unnecessary stress makes well-being a top priority. They hold space to tune in to their emotions, remain calm, and think clearly under pressure.
  • Persistence and problem-solving: Resilient people stay the course despite inevitable workplace obstacles and setbacks. They have the ability to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable steps and to come up with creative solutions. Even when progress is slow, they maintain motivation and focus on goals.

Why is resilience important in the workplace?

Resilience in the workplace helps to promote a positive work environment where employees are more likely to stay optimistic, have higher job satisfaction, and feel a greater sense of purpose.

Improved technologies, customer demands, changes in leadership, and new responsibilities all bring their challenges. Resilient employees are more likely to stay positive and focused on their goals, even when faced with change and uncertainty.

Additionally, resilience at work helps to foster positive, healthy relationships with colleagues and clients. Employees can better solve problems and address conflict to build stronger relationships. When challenges are viewed as opportunities for growth and improvement, each problem is a chance to develop new skills and strengthen connections.

Resilient employees are more likely to stay positive and focused on their goals, even when faced with change and uncertainty.

How to build resilience in the workplace

Building resilience in the workplace requires a holistic, bottom-to-top approach. The key is to find a balance between giving appropriate support and allowing enough independence to foster confidence and competence.

A powerful combination of teaching, modeling, and encouragement can build resilience in every employee and every role. Your people will be empowered to tackle challenges and conquer obstacles.

Here are three strategies that leaders can use to build resilience in their teams:

1. Embrace a growth mindset

A growth mindset has been linked to resilience in the face of adversity. Develop and strengthen skills through experiential learning, risk-taking, and persistence. Challenges, setbacks, and failures are fantastic growth opportunities. Encourage your people to lean into obstacles and try new solutions, even if they fail. Guide them through the process of reflecting on a course of action, exploring different possibilities, and thinking creatively.

Promote positive self-talk. “If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.” Reframe negative thoughts to be encouraging and supportive. Research shows that people who talk themselves through difficult situations find it easier to master difficult tasks. A positive inner voice is solution oriented rather than hyper-focused on problems. And don’t let your people stay stuck – encourage open-mindedness and brainstorming to move out of a difficult headspace. Model talking through setbacks or failures in a positive, future-focused way.

Master mindfulness and stress management. Resilience does not mean a lack of stress. Stress is a normal part of life and a motivator to improve performance. According to the American Psychological Association, regular breaks make people more resilient when stressors arise. To help your people feel calm and empowered, encourage them to use mindfulness and stress-management techniques.

2. Lead by example and model resilience

Set clear expectations and goals. Help your people stay motivated and focused with honest, timely feedback and recognition. Communicate expectations and goals clearly. Scaffolding gives people a strong framework for accomplishing goals and provides help when needed. Leaders can also share personal anecdotes about success, challenges, and failures.

Create a positive team environment. Respect, empathy, and support are core to an inclusive workplace culture. Recognize and celebrate employee accomplishments, create opportunities for relationship building and social connection, and model a healthy work-life balance. Give your people opportunities to collaborate, help each other, and make time and space for connection-building activities.

Read: 21 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas

Improve communication. Set a candid and respectful tone for communication, free from fear of judgment or penalty. When employees feel comfortable discussing their mistakes and challenges, they’re more likely to seek help when needed. Provide training and resources for conflict resolution and active listening so employees can improve their ability to handle challenging situations.

3. Build a company culture that supports resilience

Improve work-life balance and boost total well-being. A healthy work-life balance improves employee total well-being and resilience. A culture that values rest and self-care will prevent burnout and reduce stress with flexible schedules, support for working parents, remote work options, and paid time off. Energize the overall health of your organization and account for all aspects of employee well-being with fitness classes, meditation sessions, and mental health resources.

Create a psychologically safe work environment. A psychologically safe workplace is where everyone is welcomed, accepted, and valued. There’s a clear sense of purpose, and any ideas add value. People feel empowered, confident, and important. When employees feel safe to express themselves, they are more likely to ask for support from team members to help them build resilience and recover from challenges and setbacks.

Foster a sense of belonging and purpose. More than ever, people need and want a sense of belonging. In this increasingly global, neurodiverse, and multi-generational workforce, there are more unique perspectives and contributions to celebrate than ever. A sense of belonging builds resilience and bolsters a sense of purpose. Opportunities to make a meaningful impact on your organization’s success show people they are mission-critical to its vision and purpose.

Healthy, happy, and more resilient employees

Building resilience in the workplace requires individual, leadership, and organizational efforts. Create a more positive and productive work environment by providing resources and support for employees to build their resilience. You’ll be amazed at their ability to adapt to change, manage stress, and confidently overcome challenges.

Recognizing and rewarding employees who demonstrate resilience creates a culture of valuing and celebrating resilience. Employees want to feel valued for their hard work, especially when going the extra mile. A sense of appreciation validates their contribution to the company.

When you empower your culture, everyone wins. A Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) from Espresa demonstrates that you understand your employees’ needs. Deliver an immersive employee experience and create a workplace powered by total well-being, community, and recognition. Let’s inspire culture together! Reach out to our team for a free demo.

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