• Highly resilient people have the capacity to cope, recover and learn from adverse experiences.
• Resilience is about how people perceive adversity as well as how they respond to it, which is why both attitudes and behaviors are critical components of resilience.
• High resilience contributes to many positive outcomes at the individual and team level that lead to greater overall organizational agility.
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended our worlds, both personally and professionally. Between the health concerns and uncertainties, the onslaught of negative news, and the stress of economic turmoil that’s leading to pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs, if ever there was a time for resilience—that ability to bounce back in the face of adversity—now is that time.
Intuitively, we know this. But you may not realize just how beneficial it is for your team, your organization and yourself to be resilient in the face of crisis. Particularly now, as the pandemic is accelerating the future of work, we can’t shut down or wait it out, no matter how challenging things are in the moment. Through resilience, we’ll be better able to cope today while learning from and seeing the opportunities in this experience. As a result, we can do more than just retreat or react while we’re in the center of the storm; we can use this time to grow, improve and anticipate what comes next.
As part of our research into developing a resilient workforce, Dale Carnegie Training recently surveyed more than 6,500 employees across 20 countries to understand the qualities and behaviors of highly resilient people, what drives resilience and how to effectively prepare people to perform under pressure and stay engaged, even in difficult circumstances. The insights from this survey, which was conducted in February 2020, just before the global pandemic was declared, couldn’t be more timely.
5 Qualities of Highly Resilient People
In addition to being able to bounce back from adverse experiences, resilience, in our view, is characterized by the capacity to cope, recover and learn from those experiences. Based on that definition, 46% of the people who responded to our survey have attitudes and behaviors that suggest they’re extremely resilient at work.
Looking closer at this group, which we call the High Resilience Group, we can see that they have a unique combination of characteristics in common. Specifically, they:
- Have a positive attitude
- Are confident in their skills and ability
- Cope well with challenges
- Recover quickly from crises
- Absorb lessons from adversity, using them to grow and improve future performance
Our study shows that High Resilience isn’t dependent on age or work status; it doesn’t matter what generation someone belongs to or whether they work full time for a single company or on a contract or freelance basis. We did, however, find that job titles and education levels (four-year college degree and up) tend to predict membership in the High Resilience Group.
As we discussed previously , those in the High Resilience Group are just as likely to have experienced adverse conditions at work as everyone else. The difference seems to be that they don’t experience those situations as stressfully as others. In fact, compared to the Low Resilience Group, they’re significantly more likely to feel relatively free of serious stress at work—the highly resilient respondents reported that they rarely or never felt stress 58% of the time vs. 39% of the time in the Low Resilience Group. In other words, resilience isn’t just about how you respond to adversity; it’s how you perceive it. Attitudes are just as important as behaviors.
The Benefits of Resilience at Work
On the face of it, it seems like resilience would be a good thing to have in business, and there’s a growing body of research to back up that hunch. A recent study on Resilience in the Workplace found that resilience positively impacts individuals, teams and organizations as a whole.
Our study confirmed many of these positive outcomes. For example, at the individual level, the Resilience in the Workplace research found that resilience benefits people’s well-being, performance, effort, job satisfaction and other change-related attitudes. In our survey, compared to those in the Low Resilience Group, highly resilient employees are more than twice as willing (63% vs. 27%) to consistently give their best efforts at work. They also have different attitudes toward change, with fully 92% believing that embracing change is the best way to approach it, compared with just 52% of the Low Resilience Group.
Resilient teams also benefit from resilience. They tend to be higher performing and more cohesive and cooperative, which makes them more effective at solving problems in the midst of a crisis or other challenges. And the research found that organizations filled with these highly resilient people and teams are more agile and have a more engaged workforce — both of which bring well-document benefits to the business.
Ultimately, resilient organizations are better positioned to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing environment, something that was already the reality before a global pandemic struck. Now, the pace and uncertainty are heightened, and the challenges are even steeper. But as Deloitte points out, resilience is the key for navigating today’s volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity while on the road to business recovery.
It’s not easy to keep moving forward in a world that’s going through so much change and upheaval. Highly resilient people, however, are out there right now embracing change and embracing the challenge. In our next post, we’ll explore what drives resilience and how you can develop greater resilience in your people—and in yourself. In the meantime, you can download and read our full report, Developing a Resilient Workforce: How Organizations Thrive in the Face of Adversity.