Five critical skills for resilience


Now more than ever, it is vital that business leaders know how to build a culture of resilience in the workplace. New research suggests that there are five crucial factors to bear in mind in order to maintain peak performance – as Thierry Moschetti, co-founding partner at the Resilience Institute Europe, explains.

Businesses are having to deal with an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment – with team wellbeing and performance often taking a hit as a result. To effectively cope with this, leaders are searching for effective ways to nurture resilience and help employees to navigate new realities with confidence.

Using its own Resilience Diagnostic Assessment tool to assess nearly 24,000 people across the world, the Resilience Institute has identified five critical factors that differentiate the most resilient individuals from the least resilient.

1. Sleep

For the first time, the Resilience Institute’s research has identified sleep quality as the number-one factor for high overall resilience.

Research shows that sleep impacts many aspects of employees’ work performance including the ability to adequately respond to rapidly changing work demands and stress-inducing environments, self-regulation, decision-making and a variety of performance measures.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also found a correlation between insufficient sleep and unemployment. In his book ‘Why We Sleep’, expert Matthew Walker reports that sleep disruption is costing organisations USD $1,400 per person per year.

Organisations can do more to support their employees’ sleep. Some, for example, impose blackout periods on professional emails by deactivating them automatically, while others educate their managers about the benefits of sleep so that can lead by example and encourage employees to fully disconnect from work at night.

2. Fulfilment

The ‘Great Resignation’ has accelerated a loss of key talent across companies. Clearly a key factor behind this phenomenon has been leaders’ failure to foster a meaningful and fulfilling work environment.

Organisations that clearly articulate their purpose and consider the impact of their business on all stakeholders are much more likely to build a fulfilled workforce – bucking the trend of the Great Resignation and instead promoting a culture of retention.

3. Bounce

‘Bounce’ is what allows people to recover quickly after dealing with change and disruption. It is the foundation of resilience – and a skill that every person can develop with practice.

While confronting adversity may at first appear to be something to avoid, there is always an upside. Periodically testing ourselves with increasing challenges help us learn how to function effectively when things fall apart. Experts in sport, combat or theatre train systematically in this way.

So instead of turning down a challenging project or avoiding a difficult conversation, people must be willing to give it a try, do their best, and learn from any struggles and failures along the way.

4. Relaxation

Elite athletes have long understood the importance of compensating high-intensity periods with regular recovery periods for sustained performance. In business, this biological necessity is far too often compromised, leading to poor performance and low productivity, where quantity prevails over quality.

One study looked at how judges in a country treated parole hearings. The key finding was that parole grants were strongly linked to the time of the day, with 70% of prisoners released at the start of the day, and less than 15% before lunch or in the afternoon. Surprisingly, none of the judges had noticed the trend. The main cause of this serious miscarriage of justice was the lack of rest between cases leading to the judges’ decision fatigue and disengagement.

The rule here is counter-intuitive but simple: the busier you are, the more breaks you should take, for your own sake and that of your business.

5. Focus

In a world where we are sleep-deprived, tired, bombarded with notifications, and on constant cognitive alert, our attention is increasingly fragmented. The average adult redirects their attention every three minutes, and 85% of work emails are opened within two minutes!

Concentration is a fundamental pillar of productivity, so leaders need to create a work environment conducive to strong focus. One good practice is to encourage teams to block a daily time slot when energy and alertness are at their best – ideally in the morning – for concentrated and productive “offline” work alternating with short periods of rest.

The summary of the Resilience Institute’s latest study can be found in its Global Resilience Report for 2022.

The Resilience Institute is a research, technology and training company with a mission to measure and grow resilience skills at scale using a unique blend of live training supported by an innovative digital platform and the Resilience Diagnostic assessment.

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