In 2022, Safe Work Australia outlined the responsibility of employers in managing psychological hazards at work. It was the first time factors like stress and anxiety about a job were given the same regulatory attention as physical risks.
However, as discussed in a recent webinar by Vanessa Goryl, AbilityMap Outcomes Director and Market Research Associate, this is still a reactive measure. From her role working alongside numerous clients, Vanessa has seen firsthand how proactive organisations that prioritise building resilient individuals and teams can meet and exceed their obligations with Safe Work Australia. Not only do they effectively manage psychological hazards, but they simply run a better business.
As highlighted in the webinar, resilience has three key business benefits:
When employees feel happy in their role and supported by their organisation, they’re likely to stay longer. This is beneficial for both company dynamics and profitability. According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 200% of the employee’s annual salary.
This is especially true if employees are working in a high-stress, high-risk, or dangerous environment, such as emergency services, insurance call centres, debt collection, air traffic control and mining. In these sectors, retention is also critical for the company to deliver high standards of service.
Unfortunately, one of the most dramatic skills shortages in Australia is in the high-pressure aged care sector. Research shows this sector is losing around 65,000 workers per year. In aged care, staff need to be sensitive to a range of needs and often face difficult and repetitive challenges that lead to frustration and burnout. This in turn can create poor outcomes for vulnerable patients.
Having a resilient workforce and retaining the advanced skills of long-term workers is critical to the ability of aged care facilities to meet basic standards of care.
Resilient employees who are empowered by their organisation to take recuperation time between periods of high stress have more energy and are better equipped to cope with stressful times. This results in less burnout, reduced sick leave for stress and related illness, less pressure on colleagues, and better outcomes for stakeholders, clients, patients, and customers. The result is increased productivity, and happier, healthier employees.
We saw an example of the critical role that resilience plays in productivity in a recent blog article. The article highlights the severe impact extremely long, hard hours of game development have on productivity. These employees experienced a dramatic drop in morale and an inability to continue working to such challenging scheduling.
A resilient workforce copes better with change. Whether this change is organisational, like a merger, acquisition or restructuring, technological, or simply a consequence of business pace, agility is essential to any modern business.
Agility applies to an employee’s day-to-day functions, too. Being resilient means they’re better equipped for flexibility. As an example, consider a call centre at an insurance company. On any given day, an employee might begin by helping people who have just lost their house and all of their possessions in a flood. Later, they might help someone who’s just lost their farm machinery and all of their livestock in a bushfire. Emotions are running high and the employee needs to be flexible in their approach to the customer and understanding of such emotional situations. The reputation of the entire insurance company rests on how resilient and agile the contact centre staff are.
Effective strategies for building qualities of resilience
Of course, “resilience” is not a single personality trait. Bringing resilience – and the benefits outlined above – into an organisation requires the amalgamation of a host of personal qualities, including:
- The ability to cope with pressure and remain calm under stress or in very difficult situations.
- An adaptability to change, and openness to new ideas and concepts.
- The willingness to accept responsibility and maintain ethical principles even in the most challenging circumstances.
- Being able to display initiative, which is a behavioural attribute that allows a person to apply original thinking in approaching job responsibilities. It shows they are strongly motivated to improve processes, methods, systems or services.
- The capacity to work with teams, meaning the individual is a good team player who’s driven to work well with others.
- The ability to operate independently. Because, while being a team player is great, it’s also important for an individual to be self-reliant and confident in their ability to cope. No matter what the circumstances.
This is where the strength of the AbilityMap platform comes in. It helps organisations identify these capabilities, quantify them, and, provide actionable insights into how resilient an employee ultimately is.
For example, organisations can use AbilityMap as part of the interview process to better understand the shortlisted candidates. After inviting them to complete their AbilityMap imprint, recruiters can ask specific interview questions to further understand how a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses reflect those of the business. An in-depth understanding of these personal areas allows organisations to better support them through onboarding and in their role.
In existing employees, AbilityMap can act as a guide to identify training and development opportunities. By encouraging employees to develop in areas that are most likely to lead to promotion and succession, organisations can build a culture of resilience across the entire business.
Organisations that can identify these qualities in their people, and help develop them where there are gaps, will be best placed to achieve resilience and the business benefits that come with it.
Watch the AbilityMap webinar replay on resilience here.