How to grow employee resilience

There’s no doubt that the unprecedented change and struggle this year has challenged us all to build and maintain resilience. Resiliency, commonly defined as the ability to quickly recover from challenges, has been critical throughout this year, and will be moving forward.

Cigna’s Resilience Index, published in September, shows that only 37 percent of full-time workers have high resilience. Moreover, one-third of full-time workers say they almost never have workplace discussions about the impact of COVID-19 on them, their families and their mental health. If companies and employees aren’t talking about these impacts and our changing world, how can they learn about the resources available to support and grow resiliency? 

Most of us are coping with so much. Between COVID-19, remote learning, economic uncertainty, increased divisiveness and social unrest, we’re all feeling mentally stretched. What does this all mean for us and the credit union industry? When there are low resiliency levels amongst our employees, not only does it have a direct impact on business outcomes, it can be correlated to lower job satisfaction, engagement, and retention. 

Focus on the “whole self”

A more holistic approach to employee wellbeing isn’t a new idea, but one not often put into practice. We must stop thinking about benefits as a recruiting tool or event like new employee orientation or open enrollment. The most impactful wellbeing programs are built on a continual drip of targeted communications and resources throughout the year, that put the benefit(s) in front of the employee when they need it most. Here’s a few areas you can start:  

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Many employees don’t know what an EAP is, or feel comfortable asking for contact information when they need help. Creating a one-page resource with benefit contact information, means employees can take it on the go and access it when they need it most. 
  • Physical Movement: Data shows that regular exercise is an important component to building resiliency, so let’s start moving more. Kick off an exercise challenge and get leaders to participate in some way to encourage employee involvement. 
  • Gratitude: Essential employees should be seen and appreciated for their time and commitment to our members. Many of them are commuting, leaving their homes, and managing the same daily schedules as always, just with a lot more stress. Consider finding ways to focus on making things easier for them and allowing them to care for themselves during working hours. Maybe pick up their grocery delivery fee so they have one less stop on the way home. They deserve it! 

Keep connections strong 

It used to be easy to keep employees connected and well informed within the four walls of our buildings. Now, we must take a more thoughtful approach. 

  • Communicate frequently: Share updates about the state of the credit union and celebrate the wins. Be sure to be transparent and proactively address any uncertainty with the economy or financial standing of the credit union. 
  • Utilize technology: Connect your workforce and encourage them to use the channel that will help them get the most accomplished. One note: be mindful of the exhaustion that comes from back-to-back video calls – it’s real, and many employees become fatigued.
  • Connect employees and managers: Schedule frequent one-on-one meetings. A continuous feedback process with questions like, “How are things going?” or “What roadblocks can I remove for you?” provides opportunities for employees to share about themselves both personally and professionally. It’s critical that we embrace and welcome difficult conversations that may come to us from employees — we might be that one and only trusted person they’re willing to share with about work/life challenges right now.  

Increase diversity and inclusion efforts 

It should come as no surprise that a workplace culture that encourages community and feelings of camaraderie, inclusion and belonging benefits workers’ resilience. 

  • Connect employees in micro communities: Help build trusted relationships and provide ways to learn and support one another. As leaders, we’ve been talking about ways to make things better for working parents, so explore creating a group where parents would leverage their collective resources, learn from each other, and be there for each other. 
  • Friendships at work: We’re all familiar with the employee engagement question, “Do you have a best friend at work?” Cigna’s survey showed that more than four in ten full-time workers (44%) with a best friend at work are considered to have high resilience compared to just 23% of those who don’t have a best friend at work. 

Our people need us to take action now, more than ever, to strengthen resiliency and ultimately help them live better lives. With only 40 percent of employees surveyed stating they’re highly resilient, that leaves a startling 60 percent of the population at risk of not being able to quickly recover from challenges and cope with adversity. Fortunately, there are ways to help employees (and ourselves) cultivate and maintain a sense of resilience, ultimately creating a more human workplace during these unprecedented times.

Chary Krout

Chary Krout

For over 25 years, Chary has dedicated her career to coming alongside credit union employees and leaders, helping them solve problems, and creating better workplaces for everyone.  Chary believes in ... Web: Details