A business is only as resilient as its people. And in a post-pandemic world where economic, social or environmental volatility has become the norm, the need for resilience has never been more critical. A resilient workforce can withstand sudden change and unpredictable events. Yet resilience isn’t just about short-term survival, it’s about long-term, sustainable agility.
Businesses wanting to build workforce resilience have work to do. They must navigate several challenges consecutively which together, make up ‘The Great Convergence’ – which brings together:
Digital convergence: such as automation, technological transformation, changing customer demands and changing business models.
Skill convergence: the focus on transferrable skills across businesses, roles and industries.
Social convergence: work-life balance and wellbeing priorities.
Macro-economic and stakeholder convergence: balancing the needs and values of shareholders, employees, customers and communities.
In the context of a highly volatile world, with rising inflation, energy prices and fuel costs, improving resilience levels is no mean feat. It’s a process rather than an event and as such, it’s essential for business survival.
So, what are some of these challenges for employers and what impact will it have on workforce resilience?
The challenges faced by employers
Attraction and retention challenges
According to the latest Aon Global HR Pulse Survey: Managing the Great Resignation, 86 per cent of HR leaders say talent shortages are their top concern, along with 82 per cent of organisations who are concerned about increased turnover. And it’s not just the loss of talent and subsequent skills gap which can affect the business, but the pressure this loss has on the rest of the workforce in terms of workload and morale.
The Great Resignation, which was first identified during 2021 by the World Economic Forum, led to the mass exodus of employees in search of better salaries and improved work-life balance post-pandemic. According to PwC, one in five workers were intending to quit their jobs during 2022.
Increased employee demand
It’s an employees’ market. With increased demand for skills, employees have greater employment choice which puts them in a strong position. Employers therefore must work harder to attract and retain the right people. Generic employee benefits are no longer enough and employees are demanding more from their employers. They’re wanting employee benefits which support the entire life experience from home, work and the community.
Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) play an important role in responding to these demands, yet poorly designed EVPs can have the opposite effect: 65 per cent of employees pulled out of a hiring process due to unattractive EVPs, according to the Aon Client Insights Survey 2021 which polled over 800 businesses.
Decreased employee health and wellbeing
The latest data referenced in Aon’s A Guide to Workforce Resilience shows that one in six working adults are suffering with symptoms of poor mental health. Cancer is now affecting one in two people and over a quarter of employees say financial concerns are affecting their work. Whether it’s mental, physical, financial, career or social, health and wellbeing matters - it’s the foundation of workforce resilience. Yet rising levels of serious or chronic conditions along with the cost of living crisis can have a detrimental effect on an individual and teams ability to adapt to change and volatile situations.
For the conditions which lead to long-term absence, this can have a profound impact on productivity and business performance.
There’s a growing focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) and with good reason. Studies have shown that diverse businesses in demographics and mindset actually perform better than those which have poor diversity. A report by McKinsey, Diversity Wins – How Inclusion Matters revealed that diverse companies are 36 per cent more profitable than their competitors.
Improve resilience by building a sustainable working life
Improving resilience by addressing some or all of the challenges above can have a big effect on productivity and a company’s bottom line. Even improvement of just a few percentage points can make a difference.
Colin Barnes, Head of Advisory and Specialties at Aon, said: “The companies working towards a sustainable working life for their people will enjoy a competitive advantage. In essence, a sustainable working life is about agility (the ability to thrive on change, develop skills and be agile), belonging (creating an inclusive company culture which accepts and values its people) and resilience (the ability to withstand and recover from setbacks and crisis).
“All this creates stronger teams, builds loyalty and improves retention levels. Ninety-three per cent of resilient employees say they want to remain with their current employer, according to Aon’s A Guide to Workforce Resilience.
“Employers then, must take the sustainable long-term approach to resilience. It’s not something that can be achieved over night, rather, it has a transformative impact over time.”
Adopting the long-term approach to resilience
The one-size-fits-all approach is never recommended for workplace strategies, regardless of sector. Every business is unique in its core values, proposition and goals – initiatives and strategies should always be bespoke and align closely to the brand.
That said, a roadmap which sets out the basics can be helpful when starting on the journey towards workforce resilience, allowing employers to adapt and customise as necessary.
- Discover. Identify data sources which will enable employers and HR leaders to build a picture of workforce resilience, measuring levels and identifying KPIs through the use of focus groups, surveys and other employee listening exercises.
- Develop and deliver. Any and every strategy must be designed with inclusivity in mind. Ensure it reaches every employee and be receptive to how strategies are being received. Informed decisions lead to better outcomes.
- Review. It’s essential to conduct regular reviews and benchmarking exercises to measure the effectiveness of the resilience strategy, while keeping in mind ROI and the need to tweak and adapt as needed.
Resilience is everyone’s responsibility
Barnes added: “Disruption is now standard in today’s world. The need for workforce resilience therefore can’t be overestimated. Companies and their people need to be ready for anything and have the skills and capabilities to respond and adapt to change.
“Increased resilience can have a meaningful and measurable impact on business performance and productivity. In simple terms, it can be the difference between surviving or thriving.”
If you’d like more information about how to build workforce resilience in your organisation you can download our guide, or contact us to discuss your situation.
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