3 Reasons Investing in Employee Resilience Pays Off

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A new study shows how resilience boosts your bottom line. Plus, three questions to ask yourself about resilience.

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At a personal level, we’ve all experienced how essential it is to be able to bounce back in the face of adversity. But while resilience is obviously desirable for us as individuals, business owners and entrepreneurs might be surprised to learn that building resilience throughout their organization can have a clear positive effect on the bottom line. 

Resilience is more than a “nice to have.” Companies that foster a resilient workforce enjoy better financial performance, more productivity and happier employees according to new research from the behavioral scientists at BetterUp. (Full transparency: I’m the co-founder and CEO of BetterUp). The study, “Resilience in an Age of Uncertainty,” looked at tens of thousands of professionals, both before and during the pandemic, to uncover the impact of resilience on organizations throughout this time. 

Specifically, the researchers uncovered three surprising advantages resilience delivers: 

1. Resilience pays off with higher revenue growth 

The evidence is clear: organizations that increased workforce resilience the most achieved more than triple the year-over-year revenue growth of those that increased resilience the least. 

It isn’t a one-time bump either. Over a five-year period, companies that grew the most in resilience reported 60 percent higher revenue growth than those who grew the least. Individuals see monetary benefits, too, with workers who have the highest levels of resilience reporting 22 percent higher annual income than those with the lowest levels of resilience.  

Related: How to Strengthen Your Personal Resilience

2. Resilience sparks innovation 

In a rapidly changing environment, the only way to stay ahead is continual innovation, but staying open, curious and agile can be taxing for both individuals and organizations. In order to sustain enthusiasm for exploration, experimentation and failure — the DNA of the most innovative companies — individuals and teams must be resilient. Specifically, we found that employees who ranked the highest in resilience scored 22 percent higher in innovation than their peers, as well as 19 percent higher in cognitive flexibility and 18 percent higher in team creativity. When times are tough, the resilient keep innovating and outperforming their peers. 

Related: 7 Keys to Developing Resilience

3. Resilience reduces employee burnout and turnover  

Teams that have highly resilient leaders are not only more agile and collaborative, but they also have 52 percent lower burnout, are 78 percent less likely to leave the organization and actually feel 57 percent greater purpose in their work. This is all good news, especially during stressful times when everyday challenges such as caring for loved ones and balancing work are more difficult. Resilience helps ensure that the talent you need — to care for customers, to deliver product, to grow your business — is ready and able to contribute.

The data is clear: Boosting resilience is good for your business, teams and people. But this raises an essential question. If resilience is so critical to success in an unpredictable business environment, how can you cultivate it in your workforce, leadership team and yourself? 

The good news is that resilience can be learned. One to two hours a week focused on developing mindsets and skills like optimism and self compassion can help build resilience on the individual level. But it needs to be sustained. One-on-one coaching and mentoring are two of the most effective ways to build and support resilience. 

What can you do as a company leader to help others build this invaluable capacity? Here are three questions to ask yourself: 

  • How are you supporting managers? Resilient managers are the linchpin of team resilience — they build resilient teams with greater agility and performance and reduced burnout. Hiring resilient managers and cultivating resilience among these front-line employees can create a tipping point for change across the company. 

  • How are you promoting wellbeing? Resilience and wellbeing (i.e., mental and physical health) grow together and act as a powerful buffer against tough times. Take the time to evaluate your company’s employee wellness strategy to ensure it includes mental, social, emotional and physical support.

  • How are you personalizing growth? Building resilience changes the way people show up. Effective behavioral change is highly individualized, evidence-based and driven by data. It requires a longer tail of support than most training programs can provide. Re-evaluate your learning and development strategy to enable the one-to-one support that can drive deep and lasting change.

Related: How to Create a Resilience Plan for Your Business

Focusing on resilience is a powerful strategy to support productivity and performance in the workforce today while building long-term resources to adapt and thrive tomorrow, no matter what changes the weather brings. 

As it becomes clear that the only certainty we can expect for the foreseeable future is uncertainty, leaders can take back control by empowering their people with resilience — perhaps the most critical personal and professional capability of our time.

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