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Resilience at Work: Are You a Resilient Employee?

resilience at work
Resilience is a popular concept. But, how do you know if you or others are showing resilience at work? Learn the signs in this post!

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People have become more interested in resilience at work over the last several years. We’ve talked about how to identify the multiple types of resilience before on our blog. We have also discussed it in our podcast. In this post, you’ll learn if you’ve been resilient at work in the past. You’ll also learn how to recognize when you or your coworkers are demonstrating resilience in the future. Recent research shows that there are some key themes for understanding resilience at work, and whether you’re demonstrating it. Read more below!

You’ve Had a Negative Experience

First, in order to demonstrate resilience at work, things have to be tough. You’re not necessarily resilient if you have overcome minor stressors or inconveniences on the job. Resilience is deployed when you’re going through something particularly challenging.

These challenges can take a few forms. Your job, organization, or industry may be prone to disruptive, upsetting events. Employees may struggle with ongoing challenges. In these environments, employees need to show resilience more frequently. But, in most jobs, employees need resilience at work when going through something tough. For example, you might need resilience at work if you are fired or demoted. When organizations downsize or fail at something, employees may also need to demonstrate resilience at work. Overall, if you experience a threat or challenge on the job, you have the opportunity to demonstrate resilience at work.

In order to show resilience at work, you have to face a particularly hard challenge.
In order to show resilience at work, you have to face a particularly hard challenge.

Resilience at Work Means Coping Through Challenges

Next, in order to demonstrate resilience at work, employees have to positively cope through the challenges. What does that mean? Think about the last time that you faced a tough challenge at work. Did the challenge throw you off your game? Did you respond by lashing out at others? Was your work suffering as a result? If you react negatively in the face of challenges, then you’re not demonstrating resilience.

On the other hand, maybe you took a second to consider your options and pressed ahead calmly. Maybe you also pulled your team together and asked them for help to solve the problem. If you did this, then you probably performed better. In this case, you stayed stable in the face of challenges. That’s resilience! It’s possible that employees can even thrive in the face of challenges. If you felt stronger during and after the challenge, you were also resilient.

If you can stay stable, or even thrive, in the face of challenges, you're being resilient at work!
If you can stay stable, or even thrive, in the face of challenges, you’re being resilient at work!

Resilience at Work is About Learning

Finally, employees demonstrate resilience at work when they learn from the challenges they go through. People are higher on resilience when they look for challenges and prepare. So, if you’re trying to think and plan ahead for adversity, you’re more likely to be a resilient person. Once challenges happen, you have to respond in a way that allows for effective problem solving. Resilient people stop, process, and make sense of their situations. In an organization, that means slowing things down and working together to tackle hard times. Recognizing and managing emotions also helps. The manager who flies off the handle in the face of disruption is not being resilient.

Resilient people also take time to unpack their learnings. This might include a debrief meeting after a team goes through a hard time. If you ask questions about what you learned from a challenge, you are likely to boost your resilience at work. In this way, the more hard times you go through, the better you become at responding to them. Look for people at work who see challenges ahead of time, calmly work with others to resolve them, and create learning opportunities after. These employees are resilient. Are you one of them? If so, great! If not, you can grow your resilience by practicing these actions at work.

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