Developing resilience and agility in the workplace

The events of 2020 have impacted our lives in ways that we could never imagine, professionally and personally. Developing resilience and the ability to be agile in the workplace is more important than ever to be able to meet today’s challenges and be able to cope, manage and thrive. Our ability to be resilient affects us in all parts of our lives, in many different ways - ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’, Fredrich Nietzsche.

The Oxford English dictionary describes resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” It is not just the ability to bounce back from setbacks, but also the capacity to adapt and find opportunity in challenging times, whilst maintaining stable wellbeing and thinking positively about what you can learn from negative experiences.

The importance of resilience

Resilience does not eradicate stress and difficulties in life, however it enables people to better work through these challenges, tackling them head on and recovering more quickly and easily from them.

The Mayo Clinic states that “Resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.” In addition to reducing the risk of developing mental health illnesses, resilience has been found to correlate with the following things:

  • Improved learning and academic achievement.
  • Lower school and work sickness absence.
  • Reduced risk-taking behaviours such as excessive drinking, smoking and drug use.
  • More involvement in the community and/or family activities.
  • Increased physical health and lower rates of mortality.
  • Experiencing more positive emotions and better regulation of negative emotions.
  • Greater resistance to stress and better stress-coping strategies through enhanced problem-solving and a positive outlook.
  • Improved sense of wellbeing.

Contributing factors to resilience

Some people are naturally more resilient due to factors such as having certain personality traits which make them more able to bounce back from adversity, and having a strong support network. Oher key contributing factors to resilience include:

  • Positive self-esteem.
  • Being reliable.
  • Self-awareness and taking responsibility for your actions.
  • Good communication.
  • Determination.
  • Emotional intelligence.

Developing resilience

Not everyone has the same level of natural resilience, however it is shown that resilience can be learnt and developed even if it does not come naturally to someone.

Self-learned resilience is the resilience you build up by having an awareness of the opportunities for self-development and showing the courage to grasp these opportunities. Below are some examples of ways to help develop and maintain resilience:

  • Reframe your thoughts and focus on small ways you can help improve the situation or tackle the problem, adopting an optimistic, solutions-led mindset.
  • Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions and acknowledge these emotions.
  • Seek support and make sure you have people you can trust and confide in. Not only does sharing your problems with your support network help to lessen worry and stress, but it is also a good way to gain insight and new ideas about how to approach the situation and manage challenges.
  • Try not to get overwhelmed by things out of your control and instead focus on what you can control.
  • Make lifestyle changes that support resilience, such as being straight-forward and assertive in your communication with others, using relaxation techniques and making time to do things that help you unwind, develop your interests and hobbies, and make time for friends.
  • Identify a sense of purpose in life and reasonable goals for yourself which can be broken down into manageable chunks.
  • Maintain good physical and mental health by getting enough sleep, staying active, eating healthy and showing self-compassion.
  • Believe in yourself, work on increasing your self-esteem and reward yourself for your achievements.
  • Face your fears and challenge yourself. Be ready for change and embrace it when it comes.
  • Focus on forgiveness and do not hold grudges.

Supporting your development

At Pure, we run a number of development programmes that support people with their personal and professional development at all levels in a business.  These programmes include our Women's Leadership Programme, HR Development Programme and Board Ready Talent Scheme. If you would like more information or would like to register for our programmes, please contact Judith Pugh.

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Written by

Judith Pugh

Judith joined Pure in 2017 and is responsible for marketing the business, building our marketing strategy and delivering campaigns. Judith’s worked in marketing for more than 20 years across a range of industries – from health and fitness, horticulture, GIS software, education and now recruitment.

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