27 September 2023

Building employee resilience

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Amanda Van Nuys* speaks with six experts who give their best advice for supporting employee well-being and building resilience.

As the world turned upside down in 2020, many people eagerly dreamed about a day when things would return to “normal.”

That day hasn’t yet come, and it’s unclear if it ever will.

Our world has been fundamentally changed by the disruptive events of the past couple of years, challenging people in all walks of life to adapt and overcome stressful circumstances.

This burden carries a mental weight.

Managing the well-being, satisfaction, and happiness of your employees has always been an important part of running a successful workplace.

In the ongoing wake of COVID, however, it is absolutely essential.

The numbers bear that out: According to LinkedIn Learning’s Leading with Learning report, employees were not only actively searching out content on these topics, but also spending a lot of time learning how to manage their well-being and build their resilience muscle.

It’s simple: if you want to keep your employees, you need to take care of them.

To surface helpful methods, we talked to learning leaders around the world to find out how they are supporting employee wellness in the so-called new normal.

Here is what they said.

The Resilience Edge and LinkedIn Learning Instructor: Think differently and ‘bounce forward’

Gemma Leigh Roberts, founder of The Resilience Edge and LinkedIn Learning Instructor, asserts that the ambition and objective of resilience is changing.

It’s no longer a recovery process, but a learning process that increases the long-term value to your employees and organisation:

“The current situation is inviting different thinking.

“We used to talk about ‘bouncing back’ after being knocked off course for some reason, and then getting yourself back on track to where you were before.

“However, what we’re seeing now in research is that actually we can incorporate the growth mindset into our resilience.

“It’s really important to actually ‘bounce forward,’ which means taking that challenge, adversity, and obstacles, and using that information and understanding to actually get better in the future.

“Resilience is about taking things from the situation we’re now in to be happier, healthier, more productive, and more high-performance.”

L&D leader: Use the ‘field of dreams’ meets ‘economics’ approach to meet ever-changing needs

Kevin Delaney, a learning & development expert, believes in the laws of supply and demand when it comes to learning content.

When we asked him whether supporting an employee’s mental health is a new part of L&D’s role, here’s what he said.

“Actually, I see this a bit differently.

“I call it, the ‘field of dreams—build it and they will come, meets economics—laws of supply and demand.’ We continually offer new learning opportunities to the organisation, and if it’s oversubscribed in a day, then we have met a need.

“If not, then we adjust along the way.

“Right now, there’s a big demand for content on resilience.

“We recently dusted off some of that content about managing through change and put it back out.

“Once employees adjust to the new normal, then the resilience theme will subside and a growth mindset will emerge.

“Just like seasons, everything has its time.

“As long as we rotate the ‘field of dreams/economic’ philosophy of learning, then we’re in a good place to support our teams with the right learning content at the right time.”

Netflix and LinkedIn Learning Instructor: Navigate challenging times by starting with a question

Naphtali Bryant, director of learning and organisation development at Netflix and a LinkedIn Learning Instructor, shared an easy way to remind ourselves that we’re all human and—especially now—that we’re all in this together:

“The role I see L&D folks playing, and the role that I’ve played with the leaders and teams that I support, is a Chief Connection Officer.

“I know sometimes we look at a crisis as, ‘Everything is bad, everything is terrible,’ but then I think about the Chinese symbol for crisis; it has two parts—danger and opportunity.

“So part of what I’ve tried to do is connect our leaders and teams to look at the opportunity to grow and to learn how to navigate during this time.

“For example, one of the things that I started with several different teams that I work with was this idea of the power of a question.

“Kicking off a team meeting with a powerful question connects the team around either what’s going on or opens people up to be more vulnerable.

“For every meeting, they change the question to be something that allows the team to come closer, to focus on what’s going on in the world, or just to remind them of their humanity.

“That’s something that’s really been powerful for a lot of the leaders and teams that I support.”

DECIEM L&D leader: Learning toolkits and live sessions let employees choose their own learning adventure

Kristina Tsiriotakis, senior director of learning and organisational development at beauty company, DECIEM, focuses on making sure that employees understand all of the learning content that is available to them:

“We’ve built this at-home learning toolkit, and I think the biggest work for us is teaching people how to learn.

“In this toolkit, we [make] explicit [that] these are the different ways that you can learn—these are the different pillars that we work with and these are the different modalities.

“This is when you might want to watch a video, attend a live session, do some e-learning, and here’s where you can access it.

“We created a content map for a really clean bird’s-eye view, because more often than not, companies have all these great tools, and people just don’t know where to find them.

“We’ve tried to really educate people on where to access these tools, when they might need them, how to build their own learning journeys, almost like little LEGO pieces that they can use to make their own sculpture.

“We’re really about giving people as many paths to create the learning journey that they need, when they need it, rather than prescribing that.”

As she mentions, she complements the toolkit with virtual learning sessions.

“We’re gently reminding people that they can take charge of their learning in these live sessions, where people realise, ‘I can learn about stress management. It’s a skill’.”

Treasury Wine Estates: Another vote for learning toolkits and the importance of banjo lessons

Kirsten Dale, director of people and culture at Treasury Wine Estates, also leaned into quickly creating toolkits to support employee wellness:

“In such a dynamic environment, speed was key.

“We’ve been pulling together lots of toolkits to support people’s mental health and working remotely, and we’ve leveraged a lot of the content from LinkedIn Learning as a part of that.”

Grace Kenyon, organisational capability consultant, also at Treasury Wine Estates, added that not all learning needs to be about work.

Sometimes a greater sense of wellness comes from learning a new skill that sparks joy.

“You might just have more time at home and be looking for additional things to do.

“It doesn’t have to be work-related.

“You can literally go onto LinkedIn Learning and learn how to play the banjo.

“It’s just another thing you can do to invest in yourself over this slower period of time.”

*Amanda Van Nuys is Global Head of Scaled Community & Experiences at LinkedIn.

This article first appeared at linkedin.com.

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