Can Resilience Be Developed at Work? Here Are the Facts

Change happens at breakneck speeds due to new technologies and changing environments, which leads to the immense pressure that can overwhelm employees and their organizations. Resilience is now characterized as character traits that cope with these pressures.

Resilience can be developed at work as you can actively develop the habits and skills to respond to workplace pressure. Resilient people will cope best and even thrive under challenging circumstances. With practice, resilience can be learned, which will eventually increase your well-being. 

Read on to learn more about the ways to develop and build resilience at your work, the importance of building resilience, and examples of resilient behavior.

What Is Resilience?

Resilience is the capacity of a person to adapt to stress and the everyday workplace demands. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition is the ability to recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Generally, our body and mentality’s potential to bounce back after pressure is affected by our resilience levels.

Resilient individuals can better cope with their work pressure, especially in highly dynamic and continuously shifting expectations. Resilience is not just seen in specific exceptional individuals; everybody has different resilience levels. 

Highly resilient employees have motions or a mentality to maintain the level of resilience. Those who feel that they need more resilience can establish behaviors and habits that can improve their capacity to thrive under stress. Learning to improve their resilience will strengthen their ability to survive, succeed, and prosper in the workplace.

The Importance of Building Resilience

If not expected, it is assumed that the implications of ongoing tension would be harmful to a company’s staff if there are radical layoffs at all levels due to the shifting environment and impending risk of becoming jobless. 

Management consultants Maddi and Khoshaba studied for 12 years at a large telecommunications company where jobs were always at stake. While close to half of the employees lost their jobs and about 65% experienced stressful life situations such as divorce, heart attacks, or mental health issues, about 33% flourished and survived in these conditions. Their research reported that employees who retained their jobs were promoted, and the people who lost their positions either took another job or started their own companies. 

Workplace stress is correlated with very high levels of anxiety, burnout, and depression – additionally, extreme pressure from your job can affect or lead to adverse outcomes in your personal life and impact work performance. Burnout is associated with reduced productivity, and the effects were noted as early as 1978 when employees are exhausted both physically and emotionally. 

On the other hand, positive emotional attributes such as curiosity, energy, openness to experience, and optimism are valuable to the workplace. These positive emotions can help increase more creative solutions and act as a buffer against stress. The psychological, mental mindset of resilience is also reflected in the physical body.

Developing Resilience at Your Work

The ability to withstand workplace pressure and high levels of uncertainty can be taught, learned, and developed to increase resilience wherever you work. Some resilience experts claim that individuals with a particular attitude exhibit unique behaviors that help them survive and succeed under stress. 

The attitudes that these resilience individuals have are the following:

  • To control: To keep trying to affect the results of which you are involved instead of giving up.
  • To commit: As your work becomes more difficult, it is vital to remain engaged with the people around you rather than drop back.
  • To challenge: Figuring out how to evolve and grow when faced with various challenges rather than being upset about your unfortunate circumstances.

Ways To Develop and Build Resilience at Your Work

Developing resilience is a personal journey that can be achieved by anyone. There are several ways to build strength at your workplace. Some individuals find it helpful to keep a diary, take the time to meditate every day, practice religion and praying, or anything else that helps regain a sense of purpose. Since every person is different, the aim is to find ways that work best for you.

Here are ten different ways to build resilience at work:

  • Build good relationships, whether it is with your coworkers, family, friends, and the wider community
  • Establish the habit of using challenges to learn or acquire new skills
  • Avoid drama or exaggerating a crisis. Since stress is part of life, how you ultimately view and respond has a significant effect on how upsetting we find these changes.
  • Practice viewing your life from a positive point of view, and practice optimism 
  • Celebrate your milestones and all your achievements. Doing this will teach you to seek success rather than becoming paralyzed by the potential of failure.
  • Create practical life goals and do something every day that brings you closer to that goal
  • Be realistic about painful events. While you can have a bad day once in a while, you also have a lifetime of personal development and growth.
  • Be more confident in your own ability and trust in your instincts.
  • Build and strengthen emotional insight and consider the effects of your actions on others
  • Achieve a work-life balance, take the time to relax and recuperate from stress.

Resilience Training in the Workplace

If you are an employer trying to encourage your employee to build up resilience in the workplace, some studies support the impact of workplace training on improving resilience. Resilience training can protect employees’ well-being and has a positive effect on mental health. Training can take up different forms, such as one-to-one training, group-based training, or online.

An example of a resilience training program is called the Pennsylvania Resilience Program (PRP), developed by the University of Pennsylvania. The program was designed to increase optimism, emotional awareness, and problem-solving, which are attitudes associated with resilience. Additionally, many employees can benefit from executive, developmental, or skill-based coaching.

How To Build Resilient Teams

Resilient teams can overcome difficult situations while strengthening or even improving workplace performance. A study published in 2014 by PwC, programs, and policies that encouraged a resilient and mentally healthy/safe workplace returned approximately $2.30 for every dollar spent.

This return in cost came from reduced health expenses, higher workplace efficiency, lower numbers of absenteeism, and lower turnover in the workforce.

There are a few ways to build resilient teams in the workplace:

  • Checklists and guidelines: Provide employees with guidelines or resources when dealing with stress or pressure. Include tips for escalating issues and questions to consider in certain situations. Document standard procedures and make them accessible so the team will know how to handle unexpected situations. A database of emergency contacts is also helpful so the team knows who to ask for assistance.
  • Group training: Training as a team helps team members develop an understanding as a group that promotes coordination and general cohesiveness as a team. Additionally, it can help hold mock scenarios for specific events and act the simulated scenario out as a group. Afterward, it is crucial to follow through with helpful feedback.
  • Reflection sessions & feedback: Reflection is critical after a challenging and stressful event. Debriefing can help each group member support each other during this time.
  • Work culture: It is up to the team leader to demonstrate resilience and create a positive vibe for the entire team. Encouraging transparent discussion, maintaining composure, and noticing any stress that may affect the team’s mental/emotional well-being is vital.


Resilience is key to bouncing back from inevitable stress from changing conditions and challenges. The capacity to adapt and cope with high pressure is key to thriving at work. Companies also benefit from building a culture that supports resilience training to help their employees grow.

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