Building Resilience at Work: Quick Tips for Leaders

resilience at workBusiness is always changing. And while change is often good, it can also be difficult.

Change can mean unexpected challenges, problems to solve, and added pressure to perform under new (and sometimes adverse) conditions. Organizations that want to stay competitive and relevant must learn to move forward with resilience and adapt to new challenges.

But an organization is only as resilient as its people. If your people struggle to adapt and bounce back from stress and even failures, your company will struggle too.


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That’s why it’s important to develop resiliency and adaptability in your employees. The more resilient and adaptable your people, the better equipped your business will be to weather change and meet new challenges.

But what does a resilient organization look like, and how do you build a resilient workforce?

In this article, we’ll cover what resilience and adaptability mean, the benefits of building a resilient workplace, and tips for building resilience across the organization.

  • What is resilience?
  • Benefits of a resilient workplace
  • Tips for building adaptability and resilience at work


What is resilience?


Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from challenges. People who are resilient are able to mentally and emotionally cope with a crisis or move through and bounce back from stressful circumstances.

Stress, change, and new challenges are part of life and part of business—making resilience an important and useful skill to have at any level in an organization.


Resilience vs. Adaptability

Resilience and adaptability are distinct but intertwined—and both are important for a healthy and successful business. Where resilience is the ability to recover or cope with difficulties, adaptability is the ability to adjust to those difficulties to move forward and create a positive or productive outcome.

Resilient leaders and employees don’t shy away from challenges. Instead, resilient workers view challenges as opportunities rather than threats, enabling them to focus on solving problems and adapting with confidence.

Both resilience and adaptability are crucial for driving a successful business that is built to last.


Benefits of building a resilient workplace


Having a resilient workforce—from leaders and managers to employees—has numerous benefits to the health of your people and your bottom line.

Resilience empowers people to:

  • Manage their emotional and mental stressors 
  • Adapt to change with greater confidence 
  • Maintain motivation despite challenges 

These qualities are key for driving better outcomes for your people and your business.

Greater resilience in the workplace increases employee engagement and performance, reduces stress and absenteeism due to poor health, and preventing burnout.

As organizations build resilient and adaptive leaders and employees, they will be better poised to respond to changing markets, solve problems, and tackle challenges with greater confidence and innovation.


3 quick tips for building adaptability and resilience at work


Use the following tips to develop resilient employees and build an organization that is positioned to lead long-term.


1. Reduce workplace stress.

Leaders can have a huge impact on their employees’ wellbeing and resilience at the office—for better or for worse.

According to a 2019 Wrike survey, 94% of American workers report experiencing stress at their workplace. And 35% of U.S. workers say their boss is the main source of their work-related stress.

Organizations must help leaders identify key stressors for their people and improve behaviors and policies that contribute to a stressful or high-pressure environment.

One of the most important ways managers can reduce workplace stress and create a culture of resilience is by creating a culture of trust where employees feel safe to take risks and make mistakes.

Quality and productivity are important benchmarks for success. But managers must also allow for inevitable mistakes and failures. Leaders who have zero tolerance for mistakes create a feeling of hostility, fear of failure, and shame on the team. This can put undue stress on your employees, leading not only to lower morale and decreased productivity, but a lack of innovation as team members are reluctant to take risks.

However, when leaders give their employees room to make mistakes, they have greater room to experiment, strive for more challenging goals, and adapt to and bounce back from setbacks.


2. Promote mindfulness.

Mindfulness programs are increasingly popular in business. Researchers have found that mindfulness is linked to judgment accuracy, insight-related problem-solving, and improved cognitive flexibility.

Additionally, online mindfulness programs are proven to effectively:

  • Decrease employee stress
  • Improve resiliency and work engagement
  • Enhance overall employee well-being and organizational performance

So how can leaders and managers promote mindfulness on their teams?

Provide training and instruction to teach your employees about different mindfulness techniques and coping skills. These can include mindfulness exercises like deep breathing and meditation. The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere—even sitting at your desk.

Support mindfulness by allowing flexibility in scheduling and promoting regular breaks from work. A study by Baylor University found that more frequent short breaks, including mid-morning breaks, are important for facilitating recovery from stress and mental burnout.



When employees are able to take regular breaks, determine what they do on their breaks, and practice their mindfulness exercises, they come back to their work more rested and focused.

Emotions can certainly run high in the workplace and your people leaders need to be prepared to handle them. Download our research on Emotions in the Workplace to learn what a strong emotional culture looks like and how to create an emotional safe space at work.

Emotions in the Workplace

Published November 24, 2020 | Written By Jocelyn Stange