How To Become a Resilient Employee

The workplace has changed significantly for many workers since the start of the decade. The rise of new working styles (hybrid and remote work), evolving economic challenges and transformative technology have impacted virtually every business and employee.

In this landscape, it’s no longer only critical technical skills that make an employee a valuable addition to a company’s team. Employers also want to see evidence of essential soft skills in their employees, starting with a capacity for resilience.

On a broad level, resilience refers to a person’s ability to “bounce back” and respond positively to the challenges in their personal lives and careers. This skill is more crucial than ever where changes are accelerating.

Research from CIPD  in the UK, the SHRM in the US, and AHRI in Australia shows that resilience is crucial to preserving an employee’s mental and physical health, ability to deal with stress and capacity to pursue constant development.

What’s more, resilient employees are also more engaged and creative in their work.

The good news for today’s employees is that resilience is a skill that can be learned, honed and improved over time.

In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about becoming a more resilient employee and how it will help you reach your career goals.

Defining resilience

Resilience describes how people can effectively respond and adapt to difficult or challenging experiences. It’s facing issues head-on and striving towards your goals, even in adversity.

Resilient employees can effectively regulate their thoughts and emotions, demonstrating high emotional intelligence. They adopt a “growth mindset, ” which allows them to perceive challenging situations as opportunities rather than threats.

As a resilient employee, you’ll be able to handle your stress levels effectively and achieve your targets more consistently. At the same time, resilient staff members help to contribute to a positive company culture, as they help others overcome the challenges they face.

Resilience can stem from a range of factors. Our upbringing, how we’re taught to deal with challenges in our youth and our experiences throughout life influence how resilient we are. However, resilience can also be learned and developed with the right approach.

For example, when a resilient staff member discovered that they failed to achieve their goals on a specific task, though they might be disappointed, they wouldn’t panic or berate themselves. They would look at why the problem occurred and resolve to develop new skills and strategies to avoid similar issues in the future.

Similarly, when a major change happens in a company, like a business adopting new technologies for everyday processes, a resilient employee would look for resources and support to help them embrace these new solutions, seeing the whole process as a positive experience.

Resilient employees don’t simply “push through” difficult situations. They adapt to new challenges creatively and productively. They focus heavily on solving problems and finding increasingly powerful ways to improve their value in the workplace.

Unfortunately, several reports indicate only around 29% of employees feel “resilient” in the current workplace. Indicating that staff need to take a more proactive approach to cultivating resilience.

Evolving Workplace Dynamics and the Need for Adaptability

Resilience and adaptability have long been important skills. All employees face stress and challenges at some point, and resilience helps us to handle these roadblocks productively and effectively.

However, the demand and need for resilience have grown in recent years.

Since the pandemic, in particular, the changing economy and the evolving workplace have increased stress among team members. Only 33% of employees say they feel they’re thriving at work, according to a World Economic Forum study.

In many workplaces, employees work long hours, tackling more complex challenges, such as adopting new technologies and adapting to changing customer preferences.

The economic climate and the cost-of-living crisis also lead to more personal stress among staff members, impacting their day-to-day attitude at work.

Mental health issues caused by increased stress and anxiety are skyrocketing, making resilience an ever-more critical skill. Unfortunately, while learning resilience is possible, it requires the right approach.

It’s not enough to maintain a positive mindset. Team members need a comprehensive strategy for nurturing and strengthening resilience, even amid increasingly complex challenges.

The Benefits of Cultivating Resilience

The good news for employees is that cultivating resilience can significantly impact your current and future career. Resilient employees are more motivated, open to change and less susceptible to burnout.

What’s more, resilience and wellbeing in the workplace are closely linked, reducing a company’s risk of absenteeism. This is one of the reasons why 57% of employers see resilience as an essential skill for candidates in 2024 and beyond.

Building resilience as a team member can:

  • Increase job satisfaction: A resilient mindset helps to retain feelings of positivity at work, keeping you focused and confident even during challenging periods. It can help you effectively manage stress, ensuring you get the most satisfaction from your role.
  • Drive you towards your goals: Resilient employees have a growth mindset, which allows them to frame challenges as lessons. Each lesson gives you an insight into how you can improve and develop your skills, improving your chances of reaching your goals.
  • Enhance your relationships: Resilient employees are likelier to have strong relationships with their peers. They can accept feedback openly, move past conflicts with coworkers and even demonstrate their value to their team members by helping them be more resilient.
  • Preserving wellbeing: With a resilient mindset, you’ll be better able to manage stress and anxiety, enhance your mental health and even improve your work-life balance. This can help to enhance your wellbeing in a variety of ways.
  • Drive innovation: As mentioned above, resilient employees are excellent at finding creative solutions to problems. The more resilient you are, the more opportunities you’ll see when addressing challenges and complex tasks, enhancing your creativity.

Becoming more resilient in your role doesn’t just make you more valuable in your current career. It can also improve your chances of accessing new roles and promotions in the future.

People with good levels of resilience are more self-assured, more confident and more likely to impact any employer positively.

Resilience can even help you to manage the complexities of applying for roles more effectively. If you aren’t offered the role you want straight away, being resilient will ensure you can keep pushing forward and retain a positive mindset.

The Building Blocks of Resilience

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations. It’s not the “absence of vulnerability” or an immunity to stress. Workplace resilience is the culmination of numerous crucial building blocks.

Some of the most important components of resilience include:

  • Self-awareness is a core component of emotional intelligence, a critical concept in resilience. As a self-aware person, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and practice consistent mindfulness. Self-awareness ensures you can recognise growth opportunities and take advantage of them.
  • Adaptability: While human beings naturally resist change, resilient employees know how to overcome that resistance. They train their minds to view each change as an opportunity instead of a threat. They also view each setback or mistake as a chance to grow and improve.
  • Social support: According to researchers in a recent article in Positive Psychology, social support plays a crucial role in workplace resilience. Your professional network, including internal employees and managers, as well as external mentors and peers, can give you support and guidance during times of stress. They give you the extra strength you need to manage difficult situations.
  • Emotional regulation: Another facet of emotional intelligence, emotional regulation is your ability to recognise your feelings and respond to them productively. It’s not about ignoring stress or anxiety but instead understanding how you can manage those feelings and prevent them from damaging your performance or relationships.
  • Goal setting: Effective goal setting plays an important role in cultivating resilience. It ensures you can focus on the targets you want to achieve rather than getting bogged down by potential setbacks. The ability to set realistic objectives will keep you engaged and motivated as you deal with challenges.

Developing Resilience

Like many critical workplace skills, resilience can be learned and cultivated over time. However, success requires a strategic and proactive approach. Here are some things you can do to become more resilient.

1. Regularly Analyse Your Strengths and Development Needs

A core component of resilience is “self-awareness”, which is understanding your strengths and development needs in any environment. Every employee has areas where they thrive and others where they may struggle to achieve the right results.

Regular self-reflection helps you to keep stock of your strengths, which can improve your confidence and help you validate your value in the workplace. It also ensures you can take a practical approach to improving.

Sit down every so often and ask yourself what your biggest challenges have been in the workplace lately and how you might be able to overcome them in the future. Ask your peers for feedback if you struggle to identify your strengths and where you need to improve.

The right feedback should help you to set relevant goals for your development. It also shows employers and business leaders you’re committed to improving your skills.

Plus, a strong sense of self-awareness should ensure the goals you set for yourself are realistic so you don’t set yourself up for failure by asking too much of yourself.

2. Master Preparation Techniques

Preparation is a valuable tool in cultivating workplace resilience. Being a resilient employee doesn’t necessarily mean you never experience stress or anxiety. It’s how you respond to challenges that determine how resilient you are.

Preparation can help to give you multiple “courses of action” you can explore when faced with a challenge. If you prepare for every possible scenario you might face when approaching each challenge, you’ll be able to bounce back a lot faster.

For example, suppose you know your workplace is about to introduce some new software. If you’re unfamiliar with it, research the solution and ask yourself whether it’s something you can adapt to quickly. If you’re concerned you’ll struggle with certain tasks, seek training resources, documentation, or support from a peer to help you.

Even if there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to adapt to a change relatively quickly, having a “plan B” in mind will reduce any feelings of stress you’ll feel if issues do occur. Preparation helps to make you more adaptable and more confident in the face of uncertainty.

3. Build and Maintain Positive Workplace Relationships

Research confirms that social support has a significant impact on resilience. We feel stronger, more confident and more capable when we can lean on others and access various types of help. However, building the right relationships to promote resilience can take time.

  • Consider your approach to interacting with other staff members and managers in your organisation.
  • Do you separate yourself from workplace politics, gossip and toxic behaviour?
  • Are you constantly looking for ways to connect with others by talking to them inside and outside work?
  • How frequently do you get involved in team-building exercises or volunteer for collaborative work to help you build stronger connections?

It’s also worth constantly looking for ways to develop and expand your network inside and outside the workplace.

Ask whether there are any peer or mentor programs available in your workplace. Attend industry events, workshops and conferences to find like-minded professionals.

Alternatively, consider looking for a mentor outside of work who can help you by giving you regular guidance.

4. Find Outlets for Stress and Anxiety

Emotional regulation is crucial to workplace resilience. Many employees say they feel moderate to high stress levels, which can impact their productivity.

While you might not be able to prevent yourself from feeling stress at work, you can explore strategies for dealing with your emotions effectively. The first step is practicing mindfulness, being aware of your emotions, how they influence your behaviour and how they affect people around you. Consider the following once you notice you’re dealing with a difficult emotion.

  • Taking a break: Disconnect briefly from your current task and consider walking around the office, taking in some fresh air, or doing something to help reset your emotional state. A quick break can help to clear your mind.
  • Practicing meditation: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to take deep breaths, process your feelings and relax. You don’t need to conduct a full meditation session in the office. Just some guided breathing can be enough to regulate your emotions.
  • Seeking support: In cases of significant stress, ensure you know who you can turn to for help. Consider approaching your line manager or mentor and ask them if they have any proactive ideas to address the issue.

In some cases, your employer might even offer wellbeing solutions to help you with emotional regulation, such as in-house counselling or a room you can escape to for a few quiet moments. You could also ask them whether they’d consider implementing initiatives that help to improve your physical and mental health, such as a new strategy for work/life balance.

5. Invest in Constant Personal Development

A growth mindset is one of the most common characteristics of a resilient employee. A growth mindset means you constantly look for ways to improve your skills (both soft and technical), learn from your mistakes and explore new opportunities.

Building your personal development plan can help you cultivate this growth mindset. Based on your evaluation of your strengths and development areas, set both short-term and long-term goals for your career and skill set.

Think about what aspects of development you want to prioritise, such as improving your communication and collaboration skills or boosting your digital literacy. Approach your employer or manager and ask them what they can do to help guide you towards your goals.

Many employers will be willing to work with you on your personal development, offering access to mentorship opportunities, training and courses.

This ongoing commitment to growth will ensure you can tackle new challenges with greater confidence and broader skills.

Kind regards

Neil Scarborough – Managing Director

At The Recruiting Office, we have been helping firms with their talent acquisition, and a wide range of job seekers find their ideal roles for almost a decade and have successfully placed hundreds of top tier candidates. If you want to find out how we can help you – call us on 01603 964816 or email neil@therecruitingoffice.co.uk

Further Reading:

Stay Ahead of the Curve: The Top Skills Employers Crave in Candidates in 2024
Planning Your Next Career Move: The Step-by-Step Guide