Why L&D leaders must tackle resilience training

Phoebe Perelman

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Phoebe Perelman

You’ve likely heard the saying: Change is inevitable, but growth is optional. So why, in the face of change, do some people rise to the challenge, and others crumble? It often comes down to resiliency, which is the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties. How employees respond to difficulties has a lot to do with the success of an organization.

The world continues to throw curveballs our way, like:

  • Political tension
  • Environmental turmoil
  • Disruptive new technology
  • Economic downturn

Add on top the general stressors of everyday professional and personal life (like demanding clients, pressing deadlines, household duties, and family responsibilities.) Let’s face it: being a human – nevertheless a high-performing professional — isn’t exactly easy.

So, it’s integral for HR professionals to recognize the effects that our world has on employees and equip them with the skills they need to succeed despite it. Otherwise, your organization is at risk of:

  • Poor employee engagement;
  • Poor employee performance;
  • And poor employee retention.

Let’s look at the numbers for some proof. McKinsey conducted early research on the relationship between companies’ organizational health and their financial performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their research showed that businesses exhibiting healthy, resilient behaviors were less likely than “unhealthy” organizations to go bankrupt over the following two years.

Enter resilience training.

Our Executive Vice President of HR, Melissa Adams, recently led a webinar that did a deep dive on:

  • Organizational resiliency;
  • How story principles are the first step to developing organizational resilience;
  • And how to equip employees to navigate change and respond to disruptions.

In case you missed it, I’ve summarized some of the highest-level takeaways below. If you want to catch up on all the details (which I highly recommend), the full webinar recording lives here.

 

A time-tested way HR can develop a resilient organization

 

What is resiliency training?

Resilience or resiliency training is the process of equipping employees with the strategies and resources they need to be more resilient in the face of disruption. It’s the key to navigating today’s constant sea of change in a world where the business landscape undergoes relentless shifts from economic fluctuations to the rise of A.I., to the challenges of hybrid work that many of us still face. Resiliency training reinforces resilient practices from the inside out, fostering an agile culture that allows employees to deliver their best, no matter what changes or stressors they face.

 

 

According to Mayo Clinic, resilience training focuses on four areas: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual resilience. Training in these areas can enhance your quality of life and decrease anxiety by helping you view life’s inevitable challenges as opportunities.

Now that you know what organizational resiliency and resilience training mean, how can you execute it? That’s exactly the question the Duarte HR team faced, leading to a bespoke model that informed Duarte’s very own internal resilience training.

You may not need to create your own training. Here are a few of the existing training options out there.

Existing corporate resilience trainings

  1. Resilience at Work (RAW) by The American Institute of Stress: Focuses on building resilience skills through various modules, including stress management, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness.
  2. Mind Gym’s Resilience Training: Offers interactive training sessions and workshops that blend psychology and practical skills to build resilience.
  3. Stress Management and Resilience Training (SMART) by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): Developed by NIOSH, this program provides resources and tools to manage workplace stress and enhance resilience.
  4. Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine: Integrates neuroscience and positive psychology principles to help individuals develop mental fitness and resilience.

Before choosing a program, it’s important to assess the unique needs of your organization and ensure that the training aligns with your organizational culture and goals.

 

How to start your own employee resilience training

If none of the existing options above feel quite right, but you’re not sure how to build an entire resiliency training from scratch, storytelling is a good place to start. Let’s explore why.

1. You need storytelling culture

 

How many people at work do you feel comfortable being vulnerable with? Can you openly share challenges with your managers or colleagues? Transparency in the face of difficulty is essential to the health of individuals and organizations alike. Not only is it important for those experiencing difficulties to talk about them, but leaders must also open up about past challenges they’ve overcome in order to motivate and relate to their workforce.

This type of trust, candor, and communication in the face of setbacks is what builds resilience.

Given our line of work, Duarte has instilled a culture of storytelling for quite some time. And over the years, we’ve witnessed just how powerful storytelling culture is in building organizational resilience. More on that in a bit. First, let’s review our Path to Organizational Resilience™ model, which is fueled by storytelling.

2. Use our Path to Organizational Resilience

 

Path-to-organization-resilience-model-graphic

 

Resiliency is built in layers. There must be equal emphasis on both employee mindsets and organizational operations. Let’s review the factors we covered in our webinar that resiliency requires and results in.

Individual resiliency

When it comes to individual resilience, we’ve found that it’s key to empathize with oneself and remain curious about others. Our executive VP of HR Melissa Adams detailed how we’re building employee resilience, curiosity, and self-awareness at Duarte through well-being programs and psychometric tools.

Empathize with self: As we begin to understand our thresholds and tolerances towards stress and adversity (and that everyone is different), we’re able to develop techniques and strategies to empathize with ourselves and be more resilient. As Aristotle said, “To know thyself is the start of wisdom.”

Foster curiosity in others: We promote a culture of continuous learning and sharing. As a part of this, we couple everything we do with storytelling – and not just because it’s part of the Duarte brand, but because it deepens understanding, promotes authenticity, and fosters common ground.

Relationship resiliency

Building relationship resilience means cultivating trust and building psychological safety. Here’s how we’re doing it.

Cultivate trust: We continue to use psychometric tools to build awareness of how others work and interact so that we can have healthier relationships with our colleagues. In turn, this improves communication and cultivates trust.

Build psychological safety: When trust is continually cultivated amongst individuals, it builds a sense of psychological safety, cultivating an environment where individuals feel safe expressing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgement.

Team resiliency

Imagine if relationship resiliency was scaled across teams. This is where we start to see relationship resilience compound, but it requires managers to deliver on inclusion and strengthen collaboration.

Deliver on inclusion: Delivering on inclusion is all about execution. It requires managers to make space for diverse perspectives as promised.

Strengthen collaboration: By delivering on inclusion and promoting the understanding of diverse perspectives, you strengthen collaboration and better enable teams to achieve their goals.

Organizational resiliency

Last, but not least, organizational resilience results in continuous innovation and ubiquitous resilience.

Continuous innovation: The more collaborative your teams, the more invested and innovative they become. Over time, it becomes a systemic

Ubiquitous resilience: Ultimately, all of these components will add up to a ubiquitous, pervasive resilience that becomes a part of your organization’s DNA.

The question is no longer: “What is the path to resilience and why is it important?” it’s “How can HR help?”

 

Illuminate

 

3. What is available to your HR team?

There are a few avenues HR professionals can take to implement organizational resilience training:

  • Purchase an existing, online resilience training
  • Develop and deliver tailored resilience training as an HR department
  • Focus on building a storytelling culture and invest in storytelling training as a means of building resilience.

 

Do you need corporate resilience training?

We believe that corporate resilience training is always a good idea, but to do it right and maximize your investment, it requires intentionality.

Pros of corporate resilience training:

  • Improved work-Life balance: Employees learn to balance personal and professional demands more effectively, fostering a healthier lifestyle.
  • Improved adaptability: Resilient employees are more adaptable, ensuring smooth transitions during organizational shifts.
  • Better problem-solving skills: Resilience training enhances problem-solving abilities which empowers employees to navigate unique challenges with confidence.
  • Positive workplace culture: Resilience training fosters a supportive workplace culture, encouraging collaboration, radical candor, and teamwork.
  • Higher job satisfaction: Employees feel more satisfied and engaged when they feel like their well-being is prioritized.
  • Burnout prevention: Resilience training helps prevent burnout by providing tools to manage workload and prevent the negative impacts of chronic stress.
  • Reduced absenteeism: Employees equipped with resilience skills are less likely to succumb to absenteeism due to stress-related issues.

Cons of corporate resilience training:

  • Time and cost: Implementing resilience training programs requires time and financial investments.
  • Individual differences: Resilience training may not have the same effect on all employees, as individual responses to stress vary.
  • Blaming the individual: Overemphasis on individual resilience can inadvertently place the burden on employees rather than addressing systemic issues within the organization.
  • Resistance: Employees may resist adopting new practices, especially if there is a clash with existing organizational culture.
  • Checking the box: Some organizations may implement resilience training just to check a box, without truly integrating it into the organizational fabric, which can cause more harm than good.

There’s no denying that corporate resilience training can be an asset. However, its success depends on thoughtful implementation, ongoing support, and a recognition of the broader organizational context. Striking the right balance and addressing potential pitfalls is crucial for reaping the full benefits of resilience training in the corporate world.

 

Do you need storytelling training?

The short answer? Yes. Professionals and organizations of every kind can use storytelling training to transform mindsets, processes, and relationships.

Individuals need storytelling:

Storytelling helps individuals process information, create emotional connections, and make sense of change. Stories engage our senses, bridge the gap between confusion and clarity, and bring people closer together.

Leaders need storytelling:

Storytelling can elevate a leader’s impact from merely responding to change to proactively leading it, driving innovation, and illustrating new futures.

Organizations need storytelling:

Stories enable organizations to create a collective sense of purpose and identity. They establish cultural norms and values, aligning employees toward a common goal. Storytelling serves as the cornerstone upon which a resilient organizational culture can be built, fostering unity and shared vision.

For the more comprehensive answer, and to hear about how storytelling has been central to Duarte’s resilience efforts, listen to the webinar.

 

The easiest way to incorporate story training into your employee culture

When executives think about storytelling, they think about Duarte. Because for the past 35 years, the biggest brands in the world have come to Duarte to help train their employees in the art of storytelling and change communication.

Consider training your organization with a custom mixture of Duarte courses like:

  • Resonate® reshapes the way you develop content using story structure and audience empathy create so you can presentations that persuade.
  • Illuminate™ equips you to communicate in a way that sparks and sustains change. We’ll explore the story structure inherent in every change journey, reveal tools your teams can use to communicate through the journey, and help you recall and share your change stories.
  • Duarte DataStory® provides a research-based methodology for explaining data in a way that moves people to action – through story. This isn’t just about data analysis or data visualization – it’s about mastering presentation skills to deliver data persuasively.

Employee resilience training doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking for your L&D department. Let Duarte supplement your efforts at building employee resilience today, and let’s increase employee morale, retention, and overall company productivity together!

 

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