What is Resilience?
Resilience in the workplace refers to a person’s capacity to deal with stress, adapt to change, and handle high levels of prolonged pressure. Employees with higher levels of resilience will be better equipped to deal with high pressure targets, potential confrontation, challenging workloads, and frequent organisational change. This ensures that staff are emotionally-equipped to perform in the role, and acts as a buffer between staff members and stress, emotional distress, and workplace-related burnout.
Employees with higher levels of resilience will be better equipped to deal with targets and challenging workloads
Those lacking in resilience are likely to find high pressure work environments considerably more stressful than those who are moderately or highly resilient. As a result, these staff members are disproportionately likely to experience the ill effects of workplace stress, possibly leading to sickness, emotional distress, burnout, and eventually, employee attrition. This distress is also likely to negatively impact office morale, lowering the overall mood in the office. As a result, resilience is a core competency sought after in new staff, particularly in roles with high pressure targets, quotas, or interpersonal confrontation.
Why Resilience Matters
Resilience is essential to both performance and job satisfaction in roles with significant pressure, stress, or interpersonal confrontation. For example, sales roles will frequently involve explicit sales targets, with serious consequences for not meeting their quotas. Similarly, business development reps who cold-call potential customers will often be met with hostility from uninterested prospects, putting reps under significant stress. In both cases, a lack of resilience would result in unnecessary workplace stress, potentially resulting in emotional distress, reduced job satisfaction, burnout, and eventually employee attrition.
When staff are resilient, they will power through these obstacles, feeling confident in their ability to succeed.
As a competency, resilience is a common requirement when roles inevitably involve periods of high pressure, stress, and / or interpersonal conflict. These roles include, but are not limited to: Sales professionals, customer service executives, management consultants, medical professionals, legal professionals, managers, and executives. As a general rule, the more stress that employees are placed under in their day to day work, the more important resilience will be, and the more costly a lack of resilience will be to the employing organisation.
How to Assess Candidates on their Resilience
Resilience as a psychological construct is purely behavioural and is underpinned by a range of specific personality traits. A number of competing models of resilience exist, as to many isomorphic psychological constructs with nominally different definitions to what is traditionally referred to as resilience. For example, the core-self evaluations, positive / negative affect, and emotional stability are highly similar constructs, underpinning much of what we consider to be trait resilience. As a result, personality questionnaires designed to measure the behavioural traits that underpin resilience should be used when assessing a candidate’s resilience.
Although many hiring managers will try to measure resilience using an employment interview, the reality is that interviews are an ineffective tool for measuring resilience. The reality is that interviews only measure “interpersonal” behavioural traits, those which are easily expressed in interpersonal communication. Resilience, however, is a deeply “intrapersonal” trait, and is thus difficult to convey in an interview. For example, someone who is skilled at interviews, but not at all resilient, could very easily convince an interviewer that they are highly resilient. As a result, a well designed personality questionnaire that measure the key personality traits that underlie resilience is the most effective way to screen candidates on their resilience.
For further information on this particular topic, see our video What are the Shortcomings of Interviews?:
Our recommended Test Partnership assessments for measuring resilience Assessments(s):
Relevant TPAQ Trait(s):
- Emotional Stability