How To Create A Resilient Workforce

Written by: Michael Ballard

Resiliency is defined as, “Our capacity to bounce back.” I define it as, “Our capacity to increase the quality of our experience and the outcomes.”

Creating and maintaining a resilient workforce takes, vision, mission, diligence and resources. In a world of work that is experiencing global competition, key issues include:

  • Attracting top talent
  • Keeping talent engaged
  • Moving from training to talent management
  • Treating career development seriously
  • Acknowledging the costs and efforts to manage mental health and chronic health issues
  • Changing HR function

The potential organizational paybacks of having resiliency as a key set of factors are impressive. They enhance workplace productivity and lower costs for:

  • Recruitment
  • Safety
  • Retention
  • Chronic health issues
  • Mental health issues

Special attention to the sales force needs to be taken. In the past two decades the ability to connect with key decision makers has gotten easier due to technology. However it is now often much tougher as the decision makers have been flooded and are over communicated with. What used to take 5 – 7 calls to engage a buyer is over 11 to 19 contacts to get that first appointment.

In the world-of-work keeping staff and organizations on an even keel takes time and effort. Each client I’ve have worked with has been on a path of diligently working to gain staff, management, and supplier engagement and to ensure a high quality and congruent approach. They’ve ranged in size from small software start up with a staff of seven, to an international firm with an excess of 10,000 employees; governments, NGO’s, health care and educational organizations, and all are challenged by this.

How is this an issue?

One international client started off locally by hiring several facilitators and had 900+ employees brainstorm what key factors they wanted to have introduced, changed or released in the workplace. Spouses were also invited to participate in round three of the brainstorming session. They where prompted to discuss workplace culture and “missing links” and added insights on next steps they felt would assist their partners in being happier and more productive.

One of my smaller clients in retail made a bold category-busting move. They decided to break all industry pay-scale standards, and over time started rewarding staff who had stayed more than a year… this was 20 – 60% above industry standard. Productivity went up significantly and retention soared. Last time I knew, the owner reported that his business was at a factor of six times the national average for productivity and was at only 9% of the national average for damaged and broken products.

The clients that made successful use of technology to assist in their business, felt this helped better engage their employees. One had a toll-free line installed so staff could call to learn late-breaking corporate news. There they heard from the President, all VPs and on occasion a few key customers took turns sharing brief 30 – 120 seconds thoughts on current corporate and market place news. The organization has an FM radio station that broadcasts the key message of the day, themed on the week and the month.

An Example Of One Client’s Approach:

  • Staff developed mini educational programs 12 minutes in length, which they present at weekly meetings.
  • Leadership developed a tightly woven vision statement. It was created as a powerful message that drives the three key points of their mandate to their staff, suppliers and management team.
  • All employees conduct 15-minute meetings at the beginning of every work shift to recap key issues.

How Is This Helpful?

Having and creating from the bottom up and the top down, plus having suppliers and spouses on board helps.

  • When spouses understand that safety in the work place is not just “talk” and that in heavy-industry lives are at stake and that things change.
  • When sales teams is on-board with the approach.
  • When Quality Control understands that their role is about how products need to be perfect.
  • When people need strive for excellence things change for the better.
  • Use of encouraging language brought everyone into the loop on the “Language of Resiliency” and using it to change for the better.

For my clients the payoffs have included: reduced cost of production, increased quality, higher sales, more stable market share, reduced absentee rates and according to one General Manager, “more happiness” in his offices.

The cost of ignoring the warning signs and not becoming a resilient organization has many potential outcomes. All of them are expensive. I do know that organizations and individuals that embrace resiliency in the workplace respond to and resolve issues faster with less turmoil.

So, let’s get started! Want to learn more? Join me on the #TChat discussion tonight, May 7, at 7pm ET by tweeting @TalentCulture using the #TChat hashtag. For a preview of the questions and topics we will be discussing tonight click here.


(About the Author: Michael H. Ballard specializes in building resiliency by helping groups and people of all ages learn how to deal with change and adversity in the fast pace of modern life with its overwhelming situations and stresses, through Resiliency for Life™ (RFL). Michael has delivered breakthrough solutions for over 207 organizations across North America and around the world from the beaches of Bermuda to the skyscrapers of Singapore, dedicating his life to helping others prepare for, or recover from, life’s challenges. Michael delivers actionable solutions that reflect the depth of his experience, applying a practical yet science-based approach to instill a courageous point of view. His goal is to help people get back up and “dust themselves off” after an upset, develop and deepen their resiliency and out-perform their former selves. He knows what’s possible. He’s lived it. Despite his multiple battles with cancer, and a near death experience due to a failed medical procedure, Michael still reached sales success placing 7th out of 78 professionals in a year when he was off work for four months. Michael knows exactly what it takes to be resilient.)

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