What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important?

The toll that workplace uncertainty and stress take on employees and organizations is huge. Look at these facts:

  • 69% of employees report that work is a significant source of stress; 41% say they typically feel tense or stressed-out during the workday (American Psychological Association, 2009).
  • 51% of employees say they are less productive at work as a result of stress (American Psychological Association, 2009). For example, they have difficulty focusing on tasks, they make more errors or miss deadlines.
  • 52% of employees report that they have considered or made a decision about their career such as looking for a new job, declining a promotion, or leaving a job based on workplace stress (American Psychological Association, 2007).
  • Job pressure (co-worker tension, challenging bosses, work overload) is cited as the #1 cause of stress in the United States (American Psychological Association, 2013).
  • Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide (PsychCentral.com).

And these numbers were pre-pandemic! What has the impact of stress in the pandemic world done for us and our team?

What is Resilience?
I started with the bad news because this is the reason why resiliency is so important. Author and psychiatrist Dr. Peter Kramer says that the opposite of depression isn’t happiness, but resilience. Resilience allows you to remain strong, energetic, optimistic, and committed in the face of difficulty. Resilience means being flexible and adaptable to change. It means finding opportunity for growth within challenges. Resiliency isn’t simply bouncing back; it’s using adversity to gain knowledge and skills and bounce forward. The ability to bounce forward and grow from adversity is the hallmark of resilient individuals.

Why Does Resiliency Matter?
In our current turbulent work environment, resilience is one of the key human attributes for thriving. Many scholars and business leaders insist that resilience is a key distinguishing feature between those who make a powerful impact with good ideas and those who don’t; those who succeed and those who fail. Research shows that resilience is linked to key outcomes. As leaders in the luxury suite industry, we not only need to aware of our team’s resiliency, but also of our own. Why?

  • Resilient individuals adopt active approaches to adversity and view stress in a positive way, which leads to improved job performance. 
  • Resilient people are more committed to their organizations. Lack of commitment is related to tardiness, absenteeism and, obviously, turnover. Commitment also leads people to voluntarily engage in behaviors that promote effective functioning of the organization (e.g. altruism, courtesy, conscientiousness, etc.) 
  • Resilience is also associated with better work-life integration. This outcome is something that’s probably very relevant to you. People are always looking for ways to manage stress and be more engaged in both spheres of life.
  • Those who are resilient are also more likely to accept and even embrace changes, seeing change as a chance to grow and learn. 

Most people, when asked, will give Charles Darwin’s best-known quote as “Survival of the fittest. The strongest of the species survive,” or some variation of that. In fact, what he said was, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”  Even in biological and evolutionary terms, Darwin understood the importance of resiliency.

How is Resiliency tied to Emotional Intelligence?
Most of us have heard of Emotional Intelligence from the work of Dr Daniel Goleman and his book of the same name (Bantam, 1997). I prefer the work of Sparrow and Knight and their book Applied EI (Jossey-Bass, 2006) because quite frankly I find it easier to understand and for me the easier it is the better. Sparrow and Knight divide emotional intelligence into two spheres: the intrapersonal (self-awareness and self-management) and the interpersonal (other-awareness and relationship management). The intrapersonal is tied to resiliency in that by becoming more self-aware —understanding who you are, how you tend to communicate and behave — helps you to understand where your focus should be in order to strengthen your own personal resiliency.

Here is the Good News
You can increase your personal resiliency. It takes effort, work, and intent, but it is possible. We can break down resiliency into nine elements that can be categorized into a broader three-dimensional framework.

  1. Filter — how you filter information and interpret the world (this is very internal and not directly observable by others). 
  2. Act — how you handle challenges (more observable).
  3. Interact — how you communicate and connect with others (this is the most observable dimension).

By identifying one or more of the nine elements and focusing on improving these, we build personal resiliency. Not only that, by increasing your personal resiliency you also improve your Emotional Intelligence, because as I stated above, they are intrinsically tied together. 

The information above is condensed from a workshop I facilitate for organizations titled Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency. It is available in half-day or full-day versions. Connect with me if you would like to learn how you and your team can become more resilient and grow your emotional intelligence.