Employee resilience is reflected in adaptive, learning, and networking behaviors in the workplace. A resilient employee leverages work resources in ways that benefit the organization and also contribute to personal well-being and growth.
Employee resilience is not merely a trait and it can be developed. Individual characteristics, contextual factors, and moderate levels of exposure to adversity contribute to psychological resilience. In turn, a resilient mind-set supports the ongoing development and enactment of resilient behaviors.
Resilient behaviors contribute to effective crisis management, and they may become more salient in response to a crisis. Nevertheless, these behaviors are largely proactive and occur independently from adverse events, ensuring organizational preparedness and innovation. Employee resilience is not contingent on exposure to a significant adverse event.
Many research indicates that organizations develop employee resilience through a number of social processes, facilitated by leaders. These processes include :
Valuing employees by acknowledging their contributions and attending to their well-being,
Developing proactive learning and networking capabilities through role-modelling, feedback, and participation, and
Promoting collaboration and learning through systems that highlight the benefits of networking and knowledge sharing.
The relationship between employee resilience and organizational resilience is mutually enhancing, one in which both parties are actively engaged in the ongoing development of capabilities and resources that enhance agility, innovation, and well-being outcomes over time.
A series of organizational initiatives that can be integrated into everyday practice to support its ongoing development. These include:
Value employees as the starting point for developing resilience. For the most part, this is a fairly simple and inexpensive undertaking. Employees feel valued (and will reciprocate with resilient behaviors) when organizations provide formal and informal recognition for their contributions, support the implementation of health and well-being initiatives (including employee-led initiatives), and have policies and practices in place that emphasize team-building and workplace civility.
Invest in practices that support human-capital development for resilience. Employees will be encouraged and better able to utilize and generate resources in organizations that focus on the development of their strengths, support participative job crafting, model support-seeking behaviors, and create a coaching culture in which the ongoing provision of feedback and support are espoused, evaluated, and rewarded.
Provide support for challenges at work through effective and strategic communications. Change often poses a significant threat to engagement and well-being, with obvious implications for the enactment of proactive and learning behaviors. Organizations can maintain momentum and resilience by framing change as an opportunity to employees (e.g., highlighting developmental or career opportunities and improved workflow) and by conveying a realistic yet compassionate perspective on ways in which the change will affect employees’ workload and well-being.
Shape the culture and systems to foster learning and collaboration. Employees infer a great deal about whether their organization prioritizes learning and collaboration from its practices, norms, and systems. These behaviors are more likely to occur when the organization clearly communicates their relationship to performance and development, formally acknowledges exemplary learning and collaboration instances via rewards, invests in technologies that support knowledge sharing, and incorporates reflexivity and nonpunitive error-management approaches in training and practice.
We continues to develop research to increase our understanding of employee resilience, especially of the individual, leadership, and organizational factors that contribute to its development, and of its contributions to organizations in both stable and crisis contexts.