These last two years have been riddled with varying degrees of business challenges. COVID-19 forced a fundamental reordering of work and life around the world. Businesses and societies have had to change during the pandemic. COVID-19 exploited the vulnerability of our operations while also shedding greater light on those who are resilient to change and hardship. While we continue to work through the effects of COVID-19, the business community has also faced what has been termed the great resignation. As many businesses were getting “back on their feet” from the economic toll that the pandemic brought, they were met with the challenge of retaining employees and recruiting new ones.

The Great Resignation is a phenomenon that describes record numbers of people leaving their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Companies now have to navigate the ripple effects of the pandemic and re-evaluate how to retain talent. The Great Resignation is an idea proposed by Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University that predicts a large number of people leaving their jobs after the COVID pandemic ends and life returns to “normal.” Managers are now navigating the ripple effects of the pandemic, as employees re-evaluate their careers and leave their jobs in record numbers.

Welcome to the era of uncertainty, when a constant crisis threatens every business in every place on earth. We see it in supply shortages that are no longer merely short-term inconveniences but disruptions that could drag on for years. Millions of managers are desperate to do the right thing in these situations, but they have little history to know what that is or how to figure it out. That’s because the most common ways companies have responded to crises in the past are no longer applicable today. Things will not simply go back to “normal”. The events that have taken place over the last 2 years have permanent effects and every company and individual must navigate through them wisely.

A company struggles amid uncertainty, and it absolutely cannot thrive without resiliency.  To build a stronger, more resilient company, these steps are crucial. According to the research of leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, these elements that are essential to resilience:

  • Be Committed– Resilient people make commitments to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to push through challenges and make the most out of each and every day.
  • Stay in Control – Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to act.

The good news is that even if you’re not a naturally resilient person, you can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude. To do so, incorporate the following into your daily life:

  • Learn to relax. When you take care of your mind and body, you’re better able to cope effectively with challenges in your life. Develop a good sleep routine, try out a new exercise or use physical relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or meditation.
  • Practice thought awareness. Resilient people don’t let negative thoughts derail their efforts. Instead, they consistently practice positive thinking. This means listening to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong – if you find yourself making statements that are permanent, pervasive or personalized, correct these thoughts in your mind.
  • Edit your outlook. Practice cognitive restructuring to change the way that you think about negative situations and bad events.
  • Choose your response. Remember, we all experience bad days and we all go through our share of crises. But we have a choice in how we respond: we can choose to react with panic and negativity, or we can choose to remain calm and logical to take control and find a solution. Your reaction is always up to you.
  • Maintain perspective. Resilient people understand that, although a situation or crisis may seem overwhelming in the moment, it may not make that much of an impact over the long-term. Try to avoid blowing events out of proportion.
  • Set yourself some goals. If you don’t already, learn to set SMART, effective personal goals that match your values, and that can help you to learn from your experiences.
  • Develop strong relationships. People who have strong connections at work are more resistant to stress, and they’re happier in their role. This also goes for your personal life: the more real friendships you develop, the more resilient you’re going to be, because you have a strong support network to fall back on. So get help when you need it! (Remember that treating people with compassion and empathy is very important here, too.)
  • Be flexible. Resilient people understand that things change, and that carefully-made plans may, occasionally, need to be amended or scrapped.

From an organizational perspective, these 4 elements are essential:

    1. Build a Program: You have to show commitment by establishing an ongoing program that delivers the needed tools and techniques to help your team become more resilient.
    2. Provide Training: Once the program is designed, be sure to offer the training on a regular basis. Offering training in-person is important to not only help your team practice setting goals and maintaining perspective, but also to incorporate relationships. Relationships is a key element that needs to be fostered, especially now that so many people are working remotely.
    3. Reinforce Behaviors: Nothing helps the training stick more than coaching. If you provide your senior team with coaching following their participation in training you will help them continue to practice and develop the techniques that were taught.
    4. Measure Results: Surveying participants and asking them if the training has been put to use and has made their lives better is a great reinforcement of why the training is important. If the results suggest that it has, you know that you’re in the midst of shifting your culture for the better.

If the last couple of years has taught organizations anything, it is that it pays to have a crisis and resiliency plan. Contingencies plans are often difficult to discuss and plan for as it signifies that the worst can happen. However, if you are caught “flat-footed” it will be even a greater challenge to take control of the situation and quickly get the team all moving in the needed direction.