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Building Employee Resilience

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

In a customer service role, employees are faced with all manner of requests and potentially tricky situations. They need to think creatively, adapt, communicate clearly, be patient, problem solve and do it all with a smile.

When our levels of resilience are high, the variety of each encounter can be a motivating factor. You want to find a great way to resolve the issue and help the customer. There is job satisfaction in turning things around and you feel confident in your ability to help.

If stress builds and resilience dips, the same enquiries fill you with dread; your mind goes blank. You struggle to focus on another person’s issue when you are overwhelmed with your own. You are distracted, do the minimum you can get away with and count down the hours until the end of the day. Productivity and motivation are lacking.

This variation in customer service is one reason why employee wellbeing and resilience has to be a priority for business leaders. Take care of your team and they will take care of the customer.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is our ability to draw on available resources, skills and strengths to overcome challenges.

The 5 Pillars of Resilience are:

· Energy levels

· Future focus

· Inner drive

· Flexible thinking

· Strong relationships

Resilient people may face hardship and difficulties. They still feel pain, fear, loss and other negative emotions. The difference is that, after the initial response, they reframe thoughts and consider what needs to be done. They focus on what they can control and take decisive action. They ride the storm.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has identified a lack of resilience as a driver of vulnerability. The less we can handle adversity, the more likely we are to falter. Rather than making informed choices and seeking support, those lacking resilience often seek out quick fixes or take no action at all. This can amplify the issue and make it increasingly harder to manage.

How Resilient is Your Workforce?

The Covid pandemic tested everyone’s resilience. We have lived through months of social isolation and uncertainty. We have had to adapt to regular changes; remote working, travel bans, furlough and more. The changes have had an impact on our financial, physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.

The WRAW Index Report is a study of 9,500 working adults. Conducted between July 2018 and January 2021, it shows the impact of the Covid pandemic on resilience.

The report shows that there was a drop in resilience levels as a result of Covid. For men, the decline was 2.8%, for women 4.7%. The fact that women took on greater responsibility for caring for older relatives and home-schooling alongside work is one factor influencing the results.

As a general rule, the study found resilience increased with age and position on the career ladder. It suggests that the experience of dealing with difficulties is an effective means of building future resilience.

Part-time staff and shift workers had lower resilience levels than full-time staff. Their positions are often less secure than other members of the team, so fears of job loss and financial difficulties are more likely.

The report also highlights an impressive 7% increase in flexible thinking. We’ve been forced to adapt, but we have gained confidence in our abilities to do things differently.

Building a Resilient Team

As employers start to focus on the future, it is important to harness this flexible thinking. It is also important to recognise that many staff may need more support if you wish to optimise their skills and potential.

When employee wellbeing is part of the company culture, employees will have:

· A sense of purpose

· Recognition of and belief in their abilities

· Strong supportive colleagues and teams

· Goals and defined actions to work towards those goals

· Opportunities for skills development and career progression

· Knowledge of self-care routines that enable them to recharge

This puts them in the best position to be resilient and support customers. Their ‘can do’ attitude will help customers to get the support they need. In turn, this will help them to cope with life stresses and hardship.

As a customer, you want to interact with someone who cares and who goes out of their way to provide what you need. When they do, it reflects well on the company, you want to return and to recommend. Your loyalty has been earned and the company will benefit from it. This is where having a supported, capable and confident workforce pays dividends.

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