How to Build a Culture of Resilience That Increases Productivity

Every organization experiences changes, difficulties, and uncertainties, but not all of them respond in the same way. For some workplaces, uncertain situations or challenges can increase stress among staff and leadership, reduce performance, and lead to conflict.

Workplaces with a strong culture of resilience can resolve challenges and respond to disruptions in appropriate ways that make their teams stronger. This has become obvious in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when companies often had to make significant adjustments in a relatively short period of time.

Cultivating a more resilient, optimistic workplace can help your organization become more productive during uncertain or volatile times. The process may not be fast or easy, but it can pay off. Here are some ways to get started.


1. Define resilience and success.

The general definition of organizational resilience is the ability to plan for and respond to difficulties. However, that does not always look the same for different organizations.

Before attempting to build resilience, an organization should first understand what resilience means for its particular workforce. Consider the unique risks your organization faces and the kinds of disruptions you may experience, such as supply-chain issues or leadership changes.

Define resilience in the face of those challenges, and what qualities or skills your workforce needs in order to respond to them. Revisit past disruptions: how did the organization respond, and what could be improved?

Use these experiences, past and hypothetical, to decide what success and resilience would look like. Don’t be afraid to gather feedback from employees at all levels. From there, you can get a better idea of how to build your culture of resilience.  


2. Improve communication across your organization.

Good communication is crucial for surviving and thriving in a crisis. It fosters teamwork and reduces friction and inefficiency. Poor communication can lead to confusion, disengagement, and lower productivity.

Make sure you have established communication policies and expectations for all employees, and that each team member is aware of them and knows how to use them effectively. Consider using multiple communication channels and tools to give your team members options and ensure that they receive all relevant, crucial messages.

Schedule regular team meetings to keep everyone in the loop and help them understand the current situation, goals, priorities, and expectations. In addition, hold regular one-on-one meetings to gather feedback, understand and address the individual’s specific needs, and establish trust, empathy, and support.


3. Encourage emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a vital quality for an organization’s resilience. Developing stronger EI can benefit all employees at every level, and it is especially valuable for leadership. EI helps leaders stay calm during difficult times, contributing to resilience and building confidence in an organization. It also helps boost communication, efficiency, flexibility, and employee engagement.

When building a resilient culture, place some emphasis on improving EI. This can involve a variety of strategies. Your organization may invest in formal training programs or leadership development courses. You can also simply challenge individuals to practice listening without judgment, observing emotions and non-verbal language, and requesting feedback from colleagues to better understand them.  


4. Build up employees with rewards.

Workplace priorities received closer scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was an opportunity to reconsider how organizations build up their team members. According to Scott Cawood, president and CEO of WorldatWork, an association of total rewards professionals, HR leaders should consider how their rewards strategies encourage employee resilience. This includes not only compensation and benefits, but also employee recognition and ongoing development.

HR leaders should make sure that their rewards encourage those behaviors that increase productivity and resilience across the organization. By demonstrating concern for employees, organizations can also improve collaboration and engagement during challenging times.

Creating a culture of resilience in the workplace requires commitment at all levels, with an investment of time and other resources. However, it will help create a more flexible and creative team that is better prepared to succeed in the face of challenges. 


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