The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust organizations into an uncomfortable and unfamiliar reality: Nothing is certain anymore. Yet within this unchartered territory, some companies are not just managing to cope but are actually thriving. We’ve witnessed this ingenuity at an unprecedented speed and scale, from all sizes and types of companies. Your local neighborhood restaurant has pivoted to become a grocery provider, while real estate companies are rethinking contactless office spaces. Taking control of our new reality through agility and adaptation is a surefire way for organizations to survive and thrive — while realizing benefits for their workforce.
With this new reality as a backdrop, new research from BetterUp digs into data from tens of thousands of professionals to uncover what sets successful organizations apart during this time. The answer is resilience; in particular, organizations that find opportunity for growth during times of adversity emerge with a stronger business and workforce that catalyzes their continued growth and competitiveness. What’s more, this strength comes from the growth and flourishing of leaders and frontline workers alike.
Here are five key differentiators that set organizations with high levels of resilience up for success in these difficult times. The good news is that they are all practices that any organization can adopt to boost its workforce in both good and challenging times.
1. A Resilient Workforce Is Agile and Innovative
In the face of shifting productivity in response to market and economic volatility, competition has increased. Resilient workers have more flexible thinking, contribute to more agile teams and are over 20% more innovative. In today’s world, the only way for businesses to stay ahead of their competitors is to be in a state of continuous innovation. While it can be taxing for many organizations, the agility, curiosity and insights that are found in the DNA of the most innovative and successful companies go hand in hand with individuals and teams who are more resilient.
2. The Most Resilient Professionals Receive Support in Their Mental, Physical and Social Well-being
Decades of research has demonstrated the value of multiple types of support to help individuals be resilient in times of adversity. In the early days of the pandemic, the most resilient individuals engaged in almost 40% more physical activity, had better-quality sleep and experienced almost 20% more social support than people with low resilience. These behaviors also helped bolster work productivity at a time when less resilient individuals saw a 28% decline in productivity.
3. Resilient Leaders Influence the Resilience of Their Colleagues and Teams
At the forefront of the most innovative organizations are leaders who model resilience for their colleagues and teams. These leaders act as a force multiplier; their teams are not only more agile and collaborative, but they also have more than 50% lower burnout, are less likely to leave and feel 57% more purpose in their work. These findings are good news during stressful times that present challenges to even everyday responsibilities, such as caring for loved ones while balancing full-time work.
4. The Most Resilient Professionals Invest in Themselves Through Continuous Learning and Development
The most resilient professionals take the time and effort to invest in their personal and professional growth and development. In fact, the most resilient leaders spend 14% more time, and experience greater qualitative benefits from, personalized development activities such as one-one-one coaching when compared to less resilient leaders. Such investment in personalized growth compounds over time and yields greater results than more traditional or generic methods of development.
5. Resilience Is Both Measurable and Learnable
Any organization looking to bolster its resilience, from individuals through the C-suite, must focus on taking resilience out of the black box and understand that resilience is measurable and learnable. In his book “Learned Optimism,” Martin Seligman, professor, author and “father of positive psychology” explains that the ability to be resilient, joyful and optimistic can be learned and cultivated just like any other skill. Using a multidimensional view of resilience through metrics and repeated assessments to track individual growth, organizations can grow the resilience of their workforce in a personalized and cost- and time-efficient manner.
Focusing on resilience is a powerful strategy to reinforce productivity and performance across the workforce today, while building long-term resources to weather ongoing changes. As it becomes clear that the only certainty we can expect for the foreseeable future is uncertainty, organizational leaders can take back control by empowering their people with resilience — perhaps the most critical, powerful and long-lasting personal and professional capability of our time.