When your business faces tough times, periods of change, major setbacks, or a global pandemic, for example, there are often many things that are out of your control. While challenges are inevitable, fixating on and worrying about the external factors you can’t control isn’t a productive way to spend your time. Instead, concentrate your efforts on things you can control, like making your workplace more resilient.
Over the last year, we’ve seen the importance of resilience, agility, and humanity in the workplace. Remote work blurred the boundaries between personal and professional and forced many of us to adopt a more human approach to the way we do business. By doubling down on company culture and addressing employee’s unique needs during the last year, many companies have helped their teams ride out the pandemic and adapt to the “new normal.”
We’ve dealt with the pandemic for a year now, but what’s next? While there’s no clear roadmap for what lies ahead, we recently created an ebook focused on the qualities and skills workplaces need to help them prepare their workforce for the near future and beyond.
Here are the top 4 characteristics that help build workplace resilience and help your company take on any challenges that come your way. Download the full list in our guide, "7 tools for workplace resilience."
In periods of uncertainty, it’s easy to let worry and anxiety consume you. Or, if you’re responsible for others like managers or parents are, you might feel obliged to put the needs of others ahead of your own. When this happens, though, you have to remind yourself of the adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” To show up and give 100%, you have to find the time to put yourself first.
But, wellbeing looks different for every person, and as an HR team, you need to acknowledge that. For some people, focusing on their holistic wellness might be getting a good night’s sleep, going for a walk, meditating once a day, spending time with their kids, or taking a much-needed vacation. You need to figure out what your employees need and find a way to encourage them to make time for themselves. This might be through guided virtual yoga classes over Zoom, reimbursing their subscription to a meditation app, instituting company-wide health days, or allowing employees who are caring for family members to work flexible hours.
No one was immune from the effects of the pandemic in the last year. It affected us differently, but we all had to approach and process the monumental changes it made in our lives. In order to communicate how our lives were impacted in the last year and what we needed from our workplaces, teams, and employees, we all had to let down our walls and be vulnerable.
But, being vulnerable is not easy. It requires you to build a culture of trust, one in which employees feel supported and valued. While this kind of culture and relationship can’t be built overnight, managers can be an integral part of this process. If they practice active listening, give employees an opportunity to voice their wants, needs, and concerns, and they are vulnerable themselves, employees might be more forthcoming about their experiences.
When managers are transparent, even if they don’t have all the answers, they can help create this culture of openness and sharing. That said, managers also need to be encouraged to put themselves first at times. That might require setting boundaries and taking time to recharge and be the best leader for their teams.
As Meredith Haberfeld, Founder and CEO of ThinkHuman, put it, “Real leadership starts with giving ourselves permission to have our own humanity – to have compassion for ourselves, to not have it all tied up in a bow and looking good.”
2020 proved how important emotional intelligence and soft skills are in the modern workplace. With employees facing difficult times both in their professional and personal lives, plus the shift to remote work and less face-to-face time, workplaces leaned on their managers to help the teams adjust to their new working environments, and in some cases, new responsibilities and team structure. For managers to coach their employees through tough situations, they also need to understand what their direct reports are going through and act with humanity. This small gesture helps support their team through crisis, and to do that successfully, managers need to act with empathy.
In the last year, managers have had to support employees on topics like politics, race, layoffs, burnout, and more. By actively listening to their employees’ experiences and needs, managers could act with empathy to understand what they were going through and how best they could support their direct reports through trying times.
Communication is key, especially during periods of uncertainty. It’s Important to ensure your team doesn’t feel alone in all the stress and turmoil. Your business needs to work together with managers to keep employees updated and to share key information as it becomes available. This will enable your business to fight misinformation with facts and build trust and deeper connections within your teams.
Workplace resilience can’t be built overnight. You need to help individuals at every level of your organization feel prepared for unexpected challenges, shifts in the business landscape, and questions about the future – a task easier said than done.
That’s why we’ve created our new guide, “Looking forward: 7 tools for workplace resilience.” The guide shares the tools, templates, and ideas you need to get started on improving resilience among your teams.