Building a Resilient Workplace — 5 Strategies for Fostering a 'Got Your Back' Culture How to create a supportive culture and help your employees become more resilient so they can thrive through the problems they confront.
- Five strategies for building a resilient workplace and fostering a supportive culture where everyone has each other's backs
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The pandemic has certainly shaped the way we do business. From working from home to working flexible hours, businesses found ways to make things work despite the emotional toll Covid-19 brought on many of its workers.
Fast forward to 2023, where we are now living in the post-pandemic era. While it's safe to say that everything is now "business as usual," the changes that were made to minimize the pandemic's impact on business are still expected to continue as we head to 2024.
For one, location will continue to become less of a factor with more companies allowing their employees to work from home full-time. Hybrid work has also slowly become a norm in the business world, and this is expected to grow to up to 81% by 2024.
It has also been projected that an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working from home remotely for at least five days a month by 2025, and by the looks of it, this trend isn't about to stop as businesses try to keep up with the times.
Work from home or not, people can't help but feel anxious about the future. What does the future hold for themselves, their companies and the economy as a whole?
It's crucial for leaders to instill in their employees' minds — through simple words and actions — that they are not alone and that they have their backs because failing to do so can lead to a culture where people are more focused on self-preservation instead of thinking about the greater good.
We have the opportunity to create a culture of selfless service as leaders. I learned about this lesson when I was 19 while working as a lifeguard at Jones Beach on Long Island's south shore.
There were enormous waves and strong rip currents that frequently caused the pounding surf to be extremely intense, and the beach was frequently packed. Over 100,000 people may be there on crowded summer days.
Three whistle blasts alerted us about a missing swimmer one day. Our lifeguard team promptly mobilized and began combing through the surf all down the beach. We were called out of the water after more than an hour to confront the horrible news that the swimmer had perished. It was brutal.
After the beach closed for the day, our leader told us we needed to take something away from this horrible experience. We would have to be flawless to ensure that nobody went down on our watch again and that we had to keep an eye on each other's backs if we were going to accomplish that.
We became stronger and more cohesive as a team as a result of that setback and failure. We were aware that there were crew members watching us whenever we were summoned to conduct a rescue. We could not have repeatedly entered the sea and risked our lives if we hadn't known we had support at all times.
Whether they're working from home or returning to an office, individuals today need to feel the same level of confidence and support. The following five strategies will help your company develop a "got your back" culture that will go a really long way for any organization:
1. Adopt language of selfless service
As a leader, you have to show genuine concern and support for the people around you by your words and actions. This does not mean putting up with subpar performance.
As lifeguards, we were aware that arriving late or ill-prepared (or both) to replace the person on the stand put people's lives in danger and broke the code of looking after each other. There were repercussions for breaking the regulations, but there was also room for mistakes to be made and learned from. And if someone needed a break to recover, the crew rallied to honor the request.
2. Accept real feedback
People should be encouraged to pose and respond to inquiries like, "What's working for me?" and "What's not working for me?" Building trust occurs when individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves freely and are extended an open invitation to be transparent.
3. Integrate resilience rituals into your culture
Create support networks to assist staff in developing resilience and incorporating it into the corporate ethos. This could entail arranging training sessions that are concrete and significant and convey the organization's values to staff members, as well as motivating them to practice mindfulness and take breaks.
4. Reevaluate everything
No sacred cows should exist. It's possible that something worked out well in January but not in February. Every policy, benchmark, principle or catchphrase from the past needs to be reviewed in some way.
5. Create ways to celebrate together
Looking back, being a lifeguard back then, I remember that even if it was a serious setting, we shared a lot of laughs and smiles that I still treasure to this day. After the workday was over, we teasingly and competitively challenged one another and celebrated as a group. What I learned is that such strong bonds are not created overnight. They are created by shared experiences and trust.
Every organization has a culture that either says, "Got your back" or "Watch your back." You can help people become more resilient so they can thrive through the problems they confront — now and in an uncertain future — by putting these principles into practice.