If the events of this year have proved anything, it’s that the world around us is unpredictable. 

Companies have had to readjust business models and adapt to changed economic conditions. In turn, employees have required to be agile and quickly shift to working from home, embracing all the challenges that come with a remote workplace.

Resilience has therefore become a highly desirable characteristic to employers because it means an individual can cope better with the pressure from demands placed upon them and can adapt to changing priorities or a heavier workload. As the future continues to remain uncertain, companies are searching for team members that can help the manage and deal with constant, unexpected change.

Resilient employees: 

  • Build stronger connections and relationships, which businesses need more than ever during disruption and recovery periods,
  • Are generally more optimistic, curious, energetic and more open to experiences,
  • Are team players who help their fellow colleagues achieve success at work,
  • Build and nurture their networks to ensure they have social support, and
  • Avoid burnout – which has a heavy productivity and economic toll – by placing importance on self-care.

But what exactly is resilience, and how can you strengthen it at work?

What is the meaning of resilience?

Resilience is the ability to cope with, adapt and recover from stress and adversity. In life and in work, we often encounter challenging scenarios from complex projects to tough managers, difficult teams, a changing work environment and job uncertainty. Being resilient is a core characteristic that helps us bounce back in order to bounce forward.

Top tips for building resilience at work

If you’re looking to build your resilience in the workplace, here’s some good news: resilience is not an innate quality. While some of us may have more grit than others, building resilience is an active, dynamic and ongoing process that can be developed and fostered.

No matter what stage of your career, these tips will help you develop your resilience in the workplace.

Create a comeback plan

Everyone will encounter setbacks during their professional life. But the difference between resilient employees and those who aren’t is that workplace setbacks don’t get the better of them. In fact, while it’s important to acknowledge these challenges for what they are, as hard as they seem, they are not seen as the end of the line.

Whether you’re dealing with a difficult problem, managing a crisis or trying to figure out what the future holds, it’s your response that defines you — not the challenge itself. Take inventory and reflect on what happened. Step back and go for a walk, or clear your head if need be. Brainstorm different responses, then plan for future outcomes. Doing this will help you become more solution oriented as opposed to dwelling on the issues.

Practice optimism and mindfulness

Mindset is a key component of resilience, so it should come as no surprise that those who are mindful are also more flexible and adaptable to changes. A number of studies have shown that mindfulness enhances cognitive flexibility and improves job performance, while simultaneously improving stress management. There are plenty of resources available to help you be more mindful at work, from apps like Headspace to books such as Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness.

Try to compartmentalise cognitive tasks

Our brains receive millions of bits of information every second. However, our brains are only capable of effectively processing a fraction of this amount. While you can’t decrease the amount of information you receive, it is possible to compartmentalise your cognitive load to optimise the way information is processed.

At work, be deliberate about what you do and when you do it. Allocate different types of work activities for different times of the day — for example, conducting high-level strategy meetings or difficult tasks when you’re more productive, and allocating one hour to respond to emails. This helps the brain effectively process information and make quality decisions, without overloading it.

Give yourself adequate internal recovery time

While many of us associate resilience as ‘just powering through’, the truth is that recovery is equally as important. The key to building up your resilience is trying hard, stopping, recovering, and then trying again.

Try to find opportunities for internal recovery during the workday, such as a scheduled break or unscheduled break if you feel your mental resources are depleted. Apps like Offtime or Unplugged can help you fully disconnect and recharge your batteries for a short period of time at work.

Be compassionate towards yourself and others

Compassion increases wellbeing and decreases stress, while also improving overall workplace culture and team morale. Take time each day to review what went well and celebrate your small wins, as well as those of your colleagues and team members. This trains your mind to look for success and not get bogged down by ‘failure’ — a hallmark of a resilient employee.

Remember, demonstrating resilience will not only get you through difficult times of disruption but also help your employer with business continuity and eventually, business recovery and success.

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