Building your resilient workforce

How can HR leaders look to hire for more resilient employees? Cherie Curtis of Revelian shares her insights

Building your resilient workforce

The workplace – like the rest of life – is full of challenges. Everyone will be knocked down by them at one point or another. But being knocked down is far from being out for the count, notes Cherie Curtis, CEO at Revelian. Being able to bounce back is critical. 

“It’s the level of resilience we have to these challenges that eventually come to define us,” says Curtis. “It’s a reality of life that we’re all going to face difficulties in the workplace, and we need to be equipped to handle them.”  

Building better resilience isn’t something that can be palmed off to the individual employee, either. A holistic approach needs to be developed that works with the organization as a whole. Additionally, Curtis notes that resilience is a quality that can be looked for during the hiring process.

“There are a variety of factors, but attitude is definitely one of them,” says Curtis. “Employees who tend to look at their shortcomings as opportunities for growth and learning – rather than simply being demoralized by them – tend to possess greater resilience.” 

“There are other personal attributes that contribute to resilience too,” notes Curtis. “Does the candidate have a good support system? Do they maintain positive relationships with people? You can’t always tell during the initial interview, though, so we look to other ways of assessing that aren’t so personal.”

As a result, Curtis notes, there’s been an increasing trend towards tests that measure emotional intelligence and problem-solving skills, even for entry level roles. These can provide strong indicators of resilience further down the track, while also peeling back the “interview persona”.

Curtis does note that there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach for this, but there are some key points that can be discussed during the initial interview too:  

  • This job can be difficult and stressful. There will likely be multiple demands, shifting priorities and short deadlines. What have you done in the past to keep on top of things?
  • Tell us about obstacles you’ve faced in the past. How did you deal with them and what did you learn?
  • Is there a time when you’ve had to stay positive for other people, despite being in a difficult and challenging situation? How did you go about achieving this?
  • How does your current environment demand resilience from you?

Once the candidate’s in the role, the onus is also on managers to ensure that this resilience is translating to the work environment.

“There’s a key difference between checking in and micromanaging,” says Curtis. “Managers need to navigate that space carefully, because micromanaging can actually undermine resilience.”  

Curtis points to one of the obvious challenges of the last few months as an example that’s put both staff and managers to the test – the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers and employees all over the world have had a host of previously unimagined circumstances thrust upon them. It’s an object lesson in resilience; who possesses it, how it can be further developed and how employers can aid in that process.

“I think the current environment that we’ve found ourselves in has really highlighted employers’ role and responsibility for keeping in touch with the workforce,” says Curtis. “It’s a duty of care consideration – managers need to be checking in with their employees regularly to make sure they are actually okay, not just simply bottling up their frustrations until it all gets too much. And you need to be providing them with what they need to ensure their resilience.”

Looking for ways to develop better resilience in your workplace? Revelian have just launched their free e-book Hiring Resilient Employees. To secure your free copy, click here.

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