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10 Things you didn’t know about workplace resilience

Wilhelm Crous - Friday, October 09, 2020


With 10 October being Mental Health Day, new research released by Marcus Buckingham and his team at ADP Research Institute comes as particularly pertinent…

The team recently shared their unexpected findings on workplace resilience during Covid-19 (their research was based on three separate studies that encompassed 2500 employees in the US). 

They defined workplace resilience as: The capacity of an individual to withstand, bounce back from and work through challenging circumstances or events at work. And the itself research focused on three levels: The self, team leader and senior leaders. 

Here are 10 interesting (and unexpected) facts that they uncovered:
  1. Only 19% of workers are highly resilient with 81% being vulnerable (less resilient).
  2. Those who love what they do are 3.9 times more likely to be highly resilient. So, “loving what you do, regardless of your ability is key to resilience.”
  3. Those who trust their team leaders are substantially more resilient than those who don’t.
  4. The same applies to trust in senior leaders. Those who report to senior leaders that are authentic, always do what they say and are one step ahead of events, show higher resilience.
  5. The highest levels of self-resilience exist when individuals fully trust both their team leader and the senior leaders within their organisations. This has a cumulative effect on self-resilience.
  6. Significant differences exist between the types of work they studied. Knowledge workers have the highest resilience compared to those who deal with competitive tasks. As a matter of fact, knowledge workers are 2.9 times more likely to be highly resilient.
  7. The higher one’s level within a company the more likely one is to be highly resilient. For example, only 20% of frontline management are highly-resilient, as opposed to 37% of upper management.
  8. Gender doesn’t predict workplace resilience. The research discovered 17% of woman are highly-resilient against 21% of men who are highly resilient. This difference is not significant though.
  9. Also, age does not differentiate within the workplace 14% of Gen Z are highly resilient and 13% of Baby Boomers were highly-resilient.
  10. Being part of a team has little impact on resilience scores. For example, 14% of non-team individuals were highly resilient as opposed to 18% of individuals in teams that were highly resilient.
Overall, the percentage of people who are highly resilient in the workplace is low. This indicates the importance of organisations investing more in sound mental health practices and partners within organisations. The need will surely increase. A recent Nids-Cram study found that the proportion of people who exhibited depressive symptoms rose from 12% to 24% from 2017 to June 2020 in South Africa. The biggest increases were among men, people with tertiary education and among the wealthiest.

This increasing trend was confirmed by a recent report by WHO that indicated bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear arising from measures to combat the pandemic are triggering new mental health issues and escalating existing ones, while Covid-19 itself could lead to mental health complications.

Apart from the impact of Covid-19, the impact of volatility and continual disruption will escalate feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, hopelessness, overload, and being overwhelmed amongst employees. For this reason, organisations will need to step up caring for their employees in this regard. They’ll have to make available tools and resources to help their employees cope better (and potentially redesign work practices too).

For this reason, we’ll be hosting a Mental Health and Wellness Online Seminar on 5 November 2020. This one-day event will unpack how organisations like Accenture, Momentum Metropolitan, Telesure and EY Africa are managing employee mental health to promote better productivity and resilience. You can learn more about this seminar – here.

We will also be hosting a two-day online conference on HR: The New Agenda. This must-attend, live conference will bring together some of the best and brightest minds in the people profession to explore how the role HR will need to adapt and change for the months and years ahead. You can learn more about this online conference - here.

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