If the last 18 months have taught business leaders anything, it’s that organisational resilience plays a critical role in enabling business success. Both individually and collectively, resilience helps us lead under pressure, maintain an optimistic outlook during periods of turbulence, navigate change with agility, and bounce forward from setbacks.
The power of resilience in business is that it acts as a buffer during particularly stressful or busy periods, preparing and enabling us to maintain balance in our lives, protect our well-being, and sustain high performance at work. Resilience gives leaders the ability to transform businesses and their teams by cultivating greater psychological safety, fostering creativity and innovation, and increasing engagement, communication, and purpose. Importantly, resilience also mitigates burnout and reduces the risk of a downward spiral.
Without organisational resilience, leaders and their teams are vulnerable during periods of uncertainty – leading to stress, anxiety, worry, and hypervigilance. Peak performance becomes impossible to achieve, whether collectively or individually, and once productive, teams begin to decelerate.
Organisations use many different metrics to measure and evaluate success. KPIs, revenue streams, turnover and costs are some of the ways we regularly appraise the health of a business. Yet many organisations fail to measure resilience, which can deeply impact organisational well-being, culture, productivity and continuity. Many leaders don’t acknowledge that resilience is measurable and infinite – so you can never have too much, but you can have too little.
When it comes to measuring organisational resilience, or lack thereof, four key measures provide the scorecard for businesses to use.
Personal Resilience and Mental Health
A core element of our well-being is resilience and mental health. Personal resilience refers to individuals who can remain adaptable and positive in challenging situations. Measuring reliance and mental health can be achieved through Resilience Diagnostic tools. Research shows the benefits of formal resilience training can improve the Resilience Ratio by 38%, indicating that individuals who focused on building resilience could quickly pivot to a more optimistic and purposeful future.
One of the best ways to measure sentiment in an organisation is by directly asking the people who work there. In particular, leaders should evaluate levels of psychological safety as this is a crucial indicator of – and ingredient for -organisational resilience and healthy workplace culture.
Psychological safety refers to the shared belief that it is safe to take risks and think creatively without fear of admonition. A professional environment that compels staff to share their ideas confidently and celebrate innovation, even if the desired outcome is not achieved, is one with high levels of psychological safety. A psychologically safe workplace enables staff to operate independently and feel comfortable voicing an idea or suggesting change. Organisations with high levels of psychological safety often perform and have high staff retention and strong rates of resilience.
Psychological safety can be measured through regular employee surveys examining whether staff feel confident and trusted to take risks and voice their opinions and ideas.
Leadership Trust and Compassion
If the events of the last few months have taught us anything, it is the importance of being compassionate to yourself and others. This extends to leaders in an organisation. Compassionate leaders have a deep focus on caring for others and on their organisation’s “greater good.” This partnership with trust is essential as research shows on average, around half of an organisation’s employees do not trust their leaders. However, it is possible to measure where an organisation ranks across key competencies in the elements of connection, steadiness, compassion, integrity, purpose and trust action. Leaders with access to this information can subsequently plan the steps required to build leadership trust and compassion.
Employee engagement is vital to the success of an organisation. If your business is consistently maintaining great results, your organisational resilience and employee engagement are likely high. In contrast, if you see a slump in performance, this may be due to a lack of motivation or engagement, low job satisfaction, or an increase in avoidable errors due to stress, overwhelm or burnout. This can result in abnormal levels of absenteeism and presenteeism, which are one of the main red flags to look out for. Absenteeism refers to staff taking excessive sick days or leave due to ill health, low job motivation or burnout. Presenteeism is when those suffering from a physical ailment or mental ill health continue to work due to a range of external pressures.
These tell-tale signs of an unhealthy workplace are intrinsically linked to engagement which can be measured through what is referred to as a Net Promoter Score. This simple yet effective tool analyses employees’ feedback on an organisation by asking a range of questions, with responses ranked and calculated to determine sentiment.
As leaders begin to think beyond the challenges of the COVID environment and consider growth opportunities, they should take time to invest in staff by building resilience while also setting the leadership standard around trust and compassion. But, to build you also need to measure progress, and fortunately, there are clear ways to benchmark the resilience in your organisation.
Read more: Resilience – the key to survival in 2021