Employee engagement

Resilient Companies and Employees: 3 Key Advantages

Kathleen O'Donnell
February 10, 2023
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2022 was a year of constant change. Between inflation, rising interest rates, a historically tight labor market, and the Great Resignation, there were few industries and companies unaffected. Combine all of these challenges, and it’s no surprise that many HR teams weren’t equipped to handle them, nor were employees equipped to face them.

These consistent, unexpected changes led to issues like high levels of turnover, low employee morale, and decreased engagement in the workplace—problems that persist in 2023. As economic conditions continue to be unpredictable, success in 2023 demands adaptability.

How can HR teams, managers, and leaders inspire employees to be stronger and more flexible in times of ongoing change? Building more resilient teams is the answer. 

Resilient teams and companies are better equipped to handle whatever is thrown at them—from uncertainty, transitions, and pivots, to other unknowns that may unfold this year. 

We will take you through everything you need to know about the business case for resilient and engaged teams that are ready for the future, including what resiliency is, and why it matters especially amid uncertainty.  


For an in-depth look at how you can build stronger, more resilient teams during unpredictable times:


What is resiliency and why does it matter?

Resiliency is a person's ability to bounce back from, withstand, and work through difficult events or circumstances. In other words, it’s the capacity to endure challenges and come back stronger from them—instead of falling apart. 

Resiliency isn’t about ensuring that employees and teams don’t fail—they are guaranteed to at some point, and some amount of failure is actually required for successful innovation. Rather, it’s about building teams that can bounce back from those challenges and failures with forward momentum.


resilient team


The relationship between resilience and engagement

Resilient teams are also more likely to be engaged at work, meaning they’re deeply committed to their work and willing to give their all because they find work meaningful and satisfying. Resilience has positive effects on well-being, job performance, and work engagement.

Engagement tends to be proactive, measuring how much employees are willing to go above and beyond at work. Resilience, on the other hand, is reactive, describing how employees react to challenges when they arise unexpectedly.

And unfortunately, either quality remains fairly rare in the workplace. Research from MIT Sloan Review found that worldwide, only 14% of workers were fully engaged and 15% were highly resilient in 2021. That’s one employee engagement trend we hope to see change in 2023.

Of course, while resilience and engagement are strongly related, they still remain somewhat independent of each other—a person can be engaged and not resilient. However, employees can’t be resilient without being engaged, because having a sense of meaning and purpose in their work gives them a way to survive, and even thrive, through tough times.

So if you can build teams that approach their work with both engagement and resilience, you’ll have a company that can thrive during great times and challenging ones alike.


thrive during challenge


The business case for building resilience at work

The first step is understanding why resilience is so important in the workplace.

Resilience is increased when people and teams feel a sense of purpose, safety, trust, and belonging at work.

Trust is especially critical—it’s hard to have confidence that you and the organization you work for can bounce back when you don’t have trust in your manager or leadership.

A report from the ADP Research Industry found that employees who completely trust their team leader are 14 times more likely to be fully engaged. 

And those who completely trust their colleagues, team leader, and senior leaders are an astonishing 42 times more likely to be highly resilient.

Teams that can trust their leaders to act with integrity, accountability, and honesty don’t need to spend time worrying about workplace dysfunction or looking over their shoulders for the next problem. They can simply do the work they find meaning in, and know that their leaders and colleagues will look out for them no matter what comes next. 


How can HR teams, managers, and leaders inspire employees to be stronger and more flexible in times of ongoing change?


Why engaged, resilient teams matter

Why do you need engaged, resilient teams? They’re always important, but are especially critical during a crisis, whether it’s a global pandemic, the burst of the dot-com bubble, or a worldwide financial crisis. 


3 keys advantages of resilient companies


In fact, during a crisis, resilient companies have three key advantages over non-resilient organizations:

1. A reduced initial impact as a result of a crisis.

2. A higher recovery speed.

3. A greater degree of recovery.

When it comes to employee engagement, having disengaged employees is costly, not just to your organization’s morale but also in hard numbers. Gallup estimates that employees who aren’t engaged or are actively disengaged cost the globe a staggering $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. This is largely because employees who aren’t engaged are a turnover risk, and the costs of turnover are also quite high—from .5 to 2 times the annual salary of a single employee. Additionally, disengaged employees are less likely to be productive or motivated to do their best work.

On the other hand, resilient and engaged employees are a powerful engine of business growth and a significant competitive advantage. They’re too valuable to ignore, especially since we live in times of ongoing challenges and swift shifts in the workplace and economy. If your teams aren’t adapted to take on challenges as they come, you’re likely to fall behind your competitors the next time a crisis arises. 

And Gallup's study of over 112,000 organizations confirms employee engagement as a competitive advantage. Researchers discovered that companies scoring in the top 25% for employee engagement experienced these benefits compared to the bottom 25%:

  • 10% higher customer loyalty and engagement
  • 23% greater profitability
  • 18% more sales
  • 14% higher employee productivity
  • 18% less turnover for companies with historically high turnover (those with average annual turnover rates above 40%)
  • 43% less turnover for companies with historically low turnover (those with average annual turnover rates at or below 40%)

While preparing for potential specific crises, such as an upcoming recession or economic slowdown, is helpful, the truth is that many crises can’t be forecasted or planned for in advance. For example, in 2019 even the most prepared organization likely did not have a global pandemic plan in place that would have enabled them to cope with that specific scenario. 

Instead, building resiliency ensures that your organization is prepared for anything, both what you may expect and what you can’t foresee. It’s an all-purpose tool for strengthening your people, teams, and organization as a whole.


Key takeaways: 

  • Resilience is the ability to adapt to, and bounce back from, challenges. It is not a way to avoid failure altogether.

  • Resilience begins with trust. How much do your employees currently trust their colleagues, team leader, and senior leaders? Knowing where you stand now will help you build a plan to improve in the future.

  • Resilient organizations suffer less and bounce back faster in a crisis, even ones they may not have anticipated.  

Learn more

Bonusly is the leader in employee engagement through our top-rated employee recognition platform.

The Bonusly platform:

  1. Makes recognition visible helping employees stay connected during uncertain times.
  2. Strengthens relationships between peers, supervisors, and direct reports.
  3. Builds strong communities that can bounce back from unexpected obstacles. 

For further reading on how employees can build resilience on an individual level and specific ways that leaders can help build resilience within their teams, check out our complete guide. 👇

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