Relationship between Resilience and Wellbeing

Recently, a somewhat provocative suggestion has been put forward that employees should be selected on the basis of existing individual resilience. This perspective has been derived from research which found that leadership behaviours had an impact on employees’ capacity to positively frame the workplace and capitalise on existing resources during change. 

However, the impact of leadership behaviours was considerably less for trait resilience. Thus, as it may be difficult (although not impossible) to develop trait resilience, the argument follows that it may be less effort for organisations to simply hire people who have high levels of trait resilience in the first place. Organisations should provide interventions to build existing employees’ individual resources prior to any change initiative in order to reduce the strains experienced during organisational change, and build commitment to changes. Given the evidence suggesting that employee resilience behaviours (e.g. effective collaboration on work challenges and learning from mistakes), can be facilitated through organisational practices.

In order to understand how employee resilience and organisational resilience may be promoted through organisational interventions, further research is required to establish how stable such indicators of resilience really are. Overall,¬†¬† research¬†¬† suggests¬†¬† that¬†¬† perceptions¬†¬† of¬†¬† a¬†¬† supportive¬†¬† team¬†¬† and¬†¬† perceived organisational support will be positively associated with employee resilience. Specifically, support from the organisation is by far the most important contributor to employee resilience. This¬† indicates¬† that¬† a¬† supportive¬† organisation¬† is¬† an¬† essential¬† enabling factor¬† to¬† the¬† enactment¬† of resilient¬† employee¬† behaviours.¬† Indeed,¬† building¬† an¬† organisational culture that supports the resilience of its employees may benefit both the employees‚Äô and the organisation‚Äôs¬† ability¬† to¬† adapt¬† to¬† the¬† changing¬† work¬† environment.¬† An¬† example¬† of¬† the importance¬† of¬† organisational¬† culture¬† to¬† adaptability¬† has¬† been¬† demonstrated¬† in¬† research following¬† the¬† September¬† 11th terrorist attacks in which ‚Äėresilient organisations‚Äô were those who drew on their culture and employee capabilities , rather than structures and technologies, to respond to emerging situations. A small number of resilience interventions in the workplace, both military and civilian contexts have shown promising significant effects on resilience at an individual level (with no significant differences in effect sizes found between these settings). However, the time commitment required by employees and their supervisors, along with financial costs for trained intervention facilitators, and high attrition rates, are strong deterrents for many organisations looking to invest in employee resilience. For example, results of a meta-analysis of 37 organisation sponsored resilience-building programmes revealed that to achieve the greatest effect, programmes should target individuals with low levels of resilience and employ a one-on-one delivery format. A further consideration is that there is no definitive evidence for the most effective training content or format for resilience training in the workplace.


Based on publication by K. Tonkin

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