How to build a resilient workforce

24 May 2022

Global businesses expect more from their workforce than ever before. Employees in today's workplace are adjusting to new ways of working as culture and technology combine to drive better business outcomes. This does not come without risk and with risk comes the possibility of failure. When we add in global skills shortages and supply chain shortages that are causing problems across many industries, it is no wonder employees may be finding things tough. 

In the last number of years there has been a focus on helping employees when they are experiencing stress or depression through employee or expat assistance programmes.

As a HR professional what is your role when it comes to building resilience in the workplace and are there specific tactics you can employ to help build a more resilient workplace for everyone?   

  1. To begin, it is important to define resilience at work and why it matters. When we discuss resilience, we mean our ability to cope with ups and downs of working life and bounce back from any adversity we may face. Resilience matters in all areas of our life but particularly at work where we may need to tackle a host of challenges on a day-to-day basis. It can help us deal with everything from an overwhelming workload to frustrations with lead times or even colleagues. 

It is a good idea to begin moves towards improving resilience in the workforce with the People Management team itself. Establishing good resilience practice within your own team may help the wider business model the behaviour. 

As HR professionals, finding solutions to workplace problems is at the core of your day to day. Although ultimately, they may be resolved, there can be bumps in the road getting to that point. 

There is a long list of issues that may require HR team members to be resilient including: 

  • Finding the right talent in an area where there is a shortage 
  • A key employee leaving the business
  • Resolving workplace conflicts
  • Improving workplace diversity
  • Conducting disciplinary actions
  • Conducting redundancies

1. Defining your HR team’s mission

Having a clear, overarching mission for your HR team is an effective way to build resilience. Traditionally HR teams often had projects based with goals like completing a hire or resolving conflict. More recently there has been a move towards viewing HR activity as a product with a greater focus on strategy, evolving requirements and employee experience. Moving to this kind of mindset makes it less likely for one challenge to derail the team. It is easier to take stock, refocus and work out a new way to achieve a goal. 

2. Tackle common HR issues

A common cause of problems within HR teams is the need to firefight emergency issues that land without warning. While your team can not control what may be brought up in any given week, taking time to audit and find solutions to common issues is well worth it. Having a process to follow enables everyone to get back to their core work as quickly as possible.

3. Developing future proof skills 

HR, like almost every industry, is changing due to technical evolution and to reflect the needs of the modern workplace. HR professionals need to become future ready in new competencies like data literacy and digital proficiency. Providing your team with professional development in these areas helps build HR resilience as they have a range of skills to draw from when overcoming a challenge. 

4. Communicate and appreciate HR’s success

It is easy to get so wrapped up in meeting deadlines and delivering for the wider organisation that you forget to celebrate your team’s achievements. Taking time to sit back and reflect on what you have achieved promotes positivity and proactivity. These qualities are required when bouncing back from adversity. It also helps to build resolve, so you see yourselves as a unit, rather than individuals so you become more resilient to solving problems as a team.   

Once you are comfortable that the HR team has the resilience skills it requires, it is time to look at the wider organisation. There are many ways in which you can equip the wider business with the resilience they need to succeed: 


1. Preparing employees for the future of work

Although we cannot predict exactly what the future of work might look like in every industry. Enable employees to access training relevant to their roles. This will ensure their skills are up to date and help them to find new or better ways of addressing challenges they may face.

2. Resilience training

Resilience training is a useful way to begin the process of preventing employees becoming stressed or reaching burnout. Experts in the area can use company data to identify individual and business pain points that could be causing difficulties. This information can be used to build a training course around:

  • Managing emotions
  • Coping with work related stress
  • Improving communication skills

3. Meaningful work

If employees cannot see the benefit of the work they are doing to the wider business, it can damage morale and motivation. It is important to check in with employees semi-regularly to ensure they are satisfied with the work they do. Work with employees who may be struggling to find the meaning they need. This may involve:

  • Arranging meetings with senior management so they can outline the contribution they are making
  • Starting a mentorship programme
  • Encouraging suggestions of change to assist them in finding more meaning

4. Pay attention to workplace stress

When people are working under high levels of sustained stress, it usually diminishes productivity and this will impact employee growth. HR and senior leadership should pay attention to stress levels in your organisation. There should be a collaborative effort from employees and management to understand the drivers of stress and mitigate them as much as possible.


5. Spotlight mental health

Helping employees become more aware of their mental health can enable them to put strategies in place that aid resilience. Encourage employees to speak to management, HR or a colleague about the challenges they face before they become a problem. Just some of the ways employees can mind their own mental health include:

  • Setting realistic work deadlines
  • Monitoring working hours
  • Ensure they separate work from home life

Despite all of these methods of supporting their own mental health, it is also advisable to have support there when needed. Employee and expat assistance programmes are an important way to rebuild resilience if situations become overwhelming.

6. Employee surveys

Use employee surveys to understand pain points, the resources employees may require and what management can do to improve their experience. Assess and prioritise all of the suggestions. Factor the high priorities into HR metrics for the year. This should enable them to improve their work performance and transform them into a more authoritative and resilient workforce. 

There is no doubt there is a lot of complexity to work through as a HR leader. Thankfully international health insurance doesn’t have to be one of them. Take the pressure off and let our team of experts tailor international health insurance to meet the needs of your business regardless of its size.