Resilience is a concept that is used in many different disciplines, including psychology, economics, ecology, health, sociology or engineering. There are many resources including academic journals, international policies, discourses, scientific studies as well as self-help books which deal with resilience and acknowledge its increasing importance.
The notion of resilience is also increasingly mentioned in the context of changes in the labour market that are happening around us and are impossible to avoid. The global pandemic Covid-19 has brought a number of uncertainties that each of us has to cope with. While job creation is slowing down, job destruction is accelerating. According to the Future of Jobs Report 2020 study of the World Economic Forum released in October 2020, by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in division of labour between humans and machines. Such prospects place significant demands on our ability to flexibly adapt to and work with change. And resilience can help us in that. So, let’s have a look at how resilience is understood in different disciplines to understand its concept and significance better:
Different concepts of resilience
- Psychological resilience: in psychology, the resilience is understood as an ability to adapt and cope with adversity, trauma, or stress in a healthy and productive way.
- Physical resilience: the ability of the human body to withstand physical stress such as illness or injury.
- Economic resilience: the ability of a system or organisation to withstand and recover from economic shocks such as recessions or market volatility.
- Community resilience: the ability of a community to adapt and recover from disruptive events such as natural disasters or economic downturns.
- Ecological resilience: the capacity of an ecosystem to recover from disturbances or stressors, such as climate change or deforestation.
As you can see all these concepts have one thing in common. It is the ability to adapt, cope, resist or recover from changes that cannot be completely controlled. And this capability will become increasingly important as the pace of change that is happening around us and cannot be controlled will continue to increase.
What are the most common stressors we have to deal with in everyday working life?
The fast-paced changes happening in our environment put an increasing amount of pressure on us. The ability to cope with such pressure and build our resilience is therefore gaining more and more attention. According to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, 46% of Gen Zs and 38% of Millennials reported feeling stressed most of the time. The levels of stress and anxiety are higher among women, with 53% of Gen Z women and 39% of Gen Z men and 41% of Millennial women and 36% of Millennial men experiencing high levels of stress. These levels have remained fairly constant over the past few years (2020-2022). The primary factors contributing to stress include long-term financial situations, day-to-day finances, the health and welfare of family members, concerns about mental health, and family and personal relationships.
Additionally, 46% of Gen Zs and 45% of Millennials reported feeling burned out due to the intense and demanding nature of their work environments. More than two-fifths of respondents also stated that some of their colleagues recently left their organisations due to burnout. While both generations acknowledged that their organisations are now focusing more on mental health, tangible positive changes are not always visible. These results confirm that building our resilience is becoming more than necessary to increase our adaptability.
How can we develop resilience to be better prepared for changes?
Resilience can be highly beneficial in the labour market in several ways. Firstly, it can help individuals cope with the challenges and setbacks that often arise in the workplace. Resilient workers are better equipped to adapt to these situations, maintain their motivation and productivity.
According to Rob Cross (HARWARD BUSINESS REVIEW, 2021), the top relational sources of resilience are:
- Empathy – connections that provide empathic support so that we can release negative emotions;
- Works surge – connections that help us shift work or manage surges;
- Politics – connections that help us to make sense of people of politics in a situation;
- Pushback – connections that help us find the confidence to push back and self-advocate;
- Vision – connections that help us see a path forward;
- Perspective – connections that help us to maintain perspective when setback happen;
- Purpose – connections that remind us of the purpose or meaning in our work;
- Humour – connections that help us to laugh at ourselves and the situation.
Thus, by developing these sources we will also build our resilience and mental well-being to take advantage of opportunities to grow and explore our potential.
Building resilience is not only an individual task but also a collective responsibility. Also, employers and decision-makers can significantly influence the working environment towards greater resilience. Deloitte’s survey highlights several takeaways for leaders, including:
- supporting individuals struggling with economic uncertainty and financial stress,
- empowering people to lead and drive change,
- implementing hybrid work strategies,
- prioritizing climate action,
- supporting better workplace mental health by providing resources, counselling, or therapy.
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM. The Future of Jobs Report 2020. October 2020. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020/
DELOITTE. The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey (Deloitte, 2022). Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/deloitte-2022-genz-millennial-survey.pdf
CROSS, R. et all. The Secret to Building Resilience (HARWARD BUSINESS REVIEW, 2021). Available at: https://hbr.org/2021/01/the-secret-to-building-resilience
Author: Zdenka Havrlikova, AVITEUM, Prague / Czech Republic
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