Your Resilient Workforce Guide for 2021

With so much going on, do you have the capacity to read another article about resilience?

If building resilience is not a priority yet, then put things aside and read this article.

First of all, let's get ourselves settled and present:

Take a deep breath! In through the nose and out through the mouth.


Take another deep breath!! In through the nose and out through the mouth.


Did you do it? Or did you skip over it by just reading the words and not doing the actual breathing?

Just skipping over things because we don't have time is an eternal obstacle to our mental health, general well being and resilience.

Taking those deep breaths wouldn’t have taken you more than 20 seconds.

Using breath intentionally as a powerful ally to help regain some of our capacity to deal with overwhelm.

In this VUCA world on steroids, leaders and their organisations require approaches and tools for building resilience.

Resilience. It is the capacity to adapt and grow in adverse times and challenging experiences.

Resilience is fostered through well being that is anchored in a nurturing work environment and supported by skills and tools to maintain or re-establish a centred self.

According to the Deloitte 2020 Human Capital Trends Survey, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, only 26% of respondents reported that their leaders consistently practised and promoted well-being.

A resilient workforce will be able to assess situations and respond accordingly, come with new ideas, help the organisation drive forward during difficult times, cope with workplace stress well, and much more.

Perhaps one of the most stressful situations workers can encounter is when layoffs are imminent. This is a reality for many organisations globally at this time. The need to be resilient is tremendous.

What do we need to thrive in the face of the ongoing climate of turmoil and unpredictability?

What will help build resilient organisations so that they hold the ability to adapt swiftly?

How can leaders support their workforce in a time of overwhelm with the magnitude of challenges and global uncertainty increasing?

Culture is your resilience meta-tool.

Culture in an organisation is your most powerful tool to build resilience.

Culture is the descriptor of the employee's experience of the quality of interactions in organisations. It’s how everyone relates to each other, in good times, and in tough times, this is workplace culture.

It will either cultivate positive emotions and enhance employee well-being or it will perpetuate mistrust and toxicity.

A healthy culture in an organisation functions as the immune system for the organisation. It is your most important investment in building resilient employees and a resilient organisation, systemically.

Culture builds a powerful combination of individual and community resilience.


Human focussed leadership is a business imperative for resilient organisations.

Where your leadership has not made this shift, your resilience will be compromised, and so will your employee’s well being.

Coaches are an important asset in helping leaders shift to a systemic relationship-focused leadership style.

Having a positive and openly communicative leader-worker relationship can build the engagement and trust that will give you a foundation for building a resilient workforce for the long term.

Maintaining positive relationships at work creates a field of positivity to boost the immune system of the organisation. A healthy immune system becomes increasingly important when difficult situations are faced and decisions need to be made, such as lay-offs.

Some of the strongest relationships can be formed during a crisis, a time when we depend on each other. At the same time, some of our worst behaviours can come to the fore during times of crisis.

Beyond focusing on business continuity, leaders can prioritise regular communication with workers, using a human-centred approach that focuses on empathy, authenticity, and transparency.

Leaders have an important role to play in creating this systemic force field of resilience for the organisation.


Belonging is the cloth of resilience, woven through a participative culture

When organisations focus on the quality of relationships in their organisations and nurture a participative culture in which diversity is cherished and actively leveraged, a sense of belonging is created.

The quality of organisational relationships needs to provide enough psychological safety to nurture trust and with that the necessary candour to foster a participative culture.

Meaningful work is essential for employee well-being. Sometimes this might not be the actual work tasks themselves, but rather meaning and a sense of purpose are created through a participative culture.

A participative culture communicates to employees “we are in this together” and that “everyone matters”.

It is a culture that is mature, it nurtures the value of having diverse views, solutions and makes sure feelings are heard. These views, solutions and feelings are already present in organisations, but they run amok when not tapped into and harnessed by the organisation through its leadership.

Creating workplaces of belonging benefits leaders as they stay informed about their workforce’s stress levels, product issues, the impact of procedures as well as external factors impacting their employees and customers. It is also full of excellent creative value for problem-solving.

In addition to all these benefits, a participative culture builds belonging, which in turn creates resilience.

Participative cultures that nurture belonging are a no brainer, right?!


Support through knowledge and tools

Demonstrating a connection and commitment to your workforce by showing that you prioritise their well-being is another imperative. Appropriate resources need to be made available to support resilience programs.

Here is a useful article with a great checklist for a number of support solutions.

In alignment with a participative culture and belonging, it is important to mention that leaders should pursue insights from their unique workforce needs first before responding with support solutions in mind.

Also, support autonomy and flexibility in how people approach the support you provide.

On a very practical note, here is a great resource with 3 resilience exercises!

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