Building a Culture of Resilience in Your Workforce

BY Emily Nonko | June 16, 2022

Stress, burnout, overwork—no worker has been immune over the last few years of the pandemic. Many employees, in fact, have hit a wall and are quitting their jobs en masse.

So how can you build a workplace, and a workforce, able to respond to these challenges? More companies should be thinking through a lens of resiliency, according to experts from BetterUp Care, a comprehensive mental health solution combining the interests of employee engagement, productivity, and business growth.

Karen Phillips, regional VP for BetterUp Care, joined Sarah Greenberg, director of clinical design and partnerships for BetterUp, for a From Day One webinar on “Building a Culture of Resilience in Your Workplace.” “Over the past eight years, what we’ve seen time and time again, is just how critical a resilient, healthy mind is to this work,” Phillips said in her introduction. “We also found that the majority of the workforce is in a state of languishing, where employees are really not functioning at full capacity.”

Phillips and Greenberg spoke from experience when it comes to building a culture of resilience. BetterUp, the parent company of BetterUp Care, has partnered with more than 400 organizations around the world, has a global network of more than 3,500 coaches, and has completed more than 1.5 million coaching sessions to date. “Over 71% of those sessions are considered amazing or life-changing,” Phillips said, “So when we talk about building resilience, we’re really seeing an impact across our members and partners.”

So what is resiliency? “The definition of resilience is actually a nice image to think about as a rubber band,” Greenberg said. “We can experience stress like a rubber band: we can stretch, and then we bounce back. And not only do we bounce back when we experience digestible or manageable stress, we actually grow larger as a result—we grow stronger over time.” Without resilience, she added, we’re more like a pencil, rigid to change and snapping under pressure.

Speaking on resiliency, clockwise from top right: Sarah Greenberg and Karen Phillips of BetterUp Care and moderator Emily Nonko, freelance journalist (Image by From Day One)

Greenberg stressed that “resilience doesn’t happen in a vacuum —it doesn’t happen in isolation. It’s truly an interaction between the individual and the system.” So while a person can be individually resilient, it’s important that they also are part of resilient organizations. A resilient workplace, for example, “can experience and can acknowledge the stressors as they’re occurring, but then they actually come through stronger,” Greenberg said. “It reminds me of the phrase that ‘crisis is what makes a leader.’”

Non-resilient workplaces result in employees who are languishing, a term used to describe high levels of disengagement, difficulty with focus and prioritization, struggles around the work-life balance, and resistance to change.

To support resilient workforces, BetterUp focuses on what the company calls Mental Fitness Coaching. “It’s really the proactive work that we do to prepare our minds for the many challenges that life presents us,” Phillips explained. “Think about it as an ongoing practice, a proactive and preventative approach to building mental health in a similar way that good nutrition and exercise or prevention works in the world of physical health.”

In providing the coaching, BetterUp combines personalized, human-led coaching with AI and machine learning. The idea is to be responsive to individual need, “to really help employees understand why it’s so important for them and what building mental fitness can do for them personally and professionally,” she continued. (In a survey of more than 185 employees, BetterUp found that overwhelmingly people wanted coaching on how to increase their confidence.)

Phillips and Greenberg shared other strategies companies can utilize to increase resilience. Greenberg introduced the idea of “inner work,” which is to understand your own personal needs around resiliency issues like work-life balance, and feeling confident enough to ask for support.

Phillips built off the concept: “It’s to ask yourself, Where am I right now? What thoughts do I have? Am I being fully present in this moment? And it’s really important to know that resilience happens in the moment. Mental fitness is the practice of helping you understand and ground yourself in the moment.” This can translate to daily workplace practices, like holding check-ins and groundings at the beginning of meetings or one-on-ones.

Phillips also said employees should feel comfortable in setting boundaries and that boundaries should be respected. (Her own boundary was scheduling all phone notifications to be turned off after working hours.) “Creating boundaries really creates the space to be in the moment so that we’re not constantly being pulled in every direction, and really becoming burnt out.”

Coaching impact is measured by both clinical and performance-based outcomes, with a particular focus on adaptability. Adaptability, Greenberg explained, is “the capacity to manage our thoughts and emotions, so we can focus on what matters most to us as we define it.” BetterUp has found an 18% increase in adaptability within a few months of coaching.

In measuring impact, Phillips stressed that the decision to invest in a more resilient workforce often has ripple effects. Thriving employees, according to research by BetterUp, have 56% fewer missed days due to health reasons, are five times more likely to be rated a top performer, have 25% higher productivity and 34% higher engagement.

“It’s connected to almost every single business outcome that we really care about at work,” Phillips said, “Like productivity and performance, leadership, collaboration, belonging, and our ability to grow, innovate and change.”

Editor’s Note: From Day One thanks our partner who supported this webinar, BetterUp Care.

Emily Nonko is a Brooklyn, NY-based reporter who writes about real estate, architecture, urbanism and design. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, Curbed and other publications.


Excellence in Hiring: Designing the Optimal Frontline Employee Selection Process

If a job application takes more than 15 minutes to complete, more than 70% of job seekers say they’ll bounce, according to a 2022 survey reported in HR Dive. This barrier is particularly germane to companies that employ frontline workers, often working against a narrow time-to-hire. Those recruiters have to scale operations quickly, efficiently, and often with little notice. Time matters, and even a small amount of friction can be enough to convince a job seeker to look elsewhere.“Going from three business days down to a one-second communication timeframe was huge for us,” said Carlie Lockey, the founder and CEO of Remarkable People Solutions, a recruitment firm based in coastal North Carolina. Lockey’s business had reached a tipping point: she needed to scale operations quickly, but couldn’t forfeit speed or efficiency. She shared what she learned from the process during a recent From Day One webinar on the optimal employee-selection process for frontline workers.What was she looking for? First, a high degree of automation–Lockey’s staff needs to stay nimble. Second, a high degree of customization–all her clients deploy different recruiting processes. “We needed something that would take a lot of the mindless work off of our hands, provide the best applicant experience, as well as serve each of our clients individually,” she said.Communication, and the speed of communication, was also high on the list for Remarkable People Solutions. The company needed to get its clients communicating with applicants immediately and provide consistent updates on their position in the process.She chose Fountain, a platform for frontline workforce management. It used to take the firm five business days just to notify applicants that they weren’t being sent to the next round. After adopting the platform, Remarkable People Solutions was able to invite top candidates to schedule a phone interview within an hour of applying. As Lockey put it, “the maximum amount of time is saved.”Carlie Lockey of Remarkable People Solutions and Nico Roberts of Fountain were interviewed by Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza during From Day One's webinar (photo by From Day One)Fountain was engineered to be flexible, said the company’s chief business officer Nico Roberts. “We made a decision really early on to allow a ton of customization, so [clients] can hone in on the exact flow that they’re looking for, the experience that they want to tailor, and the target applicant they’re trying to find.”There’s also the matter of bottlenecks that inevitably arise in recruitment cycles, those impediments that prompt so many applicants to abandon the process.Roberts likes to look for opportunities to grease the wheels, breaking it down “day to day, season to season, position to position, state by state, and city by city.” At other times, it’s worth slowing things down. “There might be some markets where you’re getting so many applicants that you want to figure out where the quality is and have those applicants rise to the top,” he said.One way to speed things up is to incorporate text messaging into the application and recruitment process. Roberts said 85–87% of applications that Fountain handles come in via text message or mobile device. The rest are email. “Our number one request is to add more WhatsApp capabilities, so that’s coming soon, and we’re currently building Facebook Messenger capabilities,” he said.It’s not only popular among young workers. Before Covid arrived, Roberts said, text message application users were usually aged 18–40, but that’s changed. There’s no single demographic over-indexing for their text messaging tools. He credits the popularity of delivery apps during lockdowns. “A lot of [people] had to download apps to get groceries and became very proficient on mobile devices.”The trend indicates a frontline worker on the go. “They don’t want to sit in front of a laptop or wait until they get home for a desktop. They want instant communication,” Roberts said. “These folks are applying on lunch breaks or after work. They’re tired, most likely they’re frustrated.  There’s a reason they need another job or a second job or a fourth job. The more barriers you can remove, the bigger success you’ll have with hiring these folks.”Another barrier often overlooked? Talent acquisition isn’t always available when applicants have questions. Fountain has been developing AI bots that keep the recruiting engine running even when recruiters have clocked out for the day. “More than 60% of all applicant questions happen in non-business hours, and [applicants] typically have to wait for recruiters to log back in to help answer,” said Roberts. “But if you have an FAQ bot trained, they can start answering in real time, whether it’s 10 o’clock at night or one o’clock in the morning.”But for every click tech feature one could add to their recruiting cycle, it’s worth asking whether  it should be added. If it isn’t a reflection of your employer brand, skip it or tailor it to suit your employer identity.“The folks that are crushing it have an authentic side,” said Roberts. Where there’s opportunity to connect more personally with applicants–like by sliding in videos of current employees giving advice to prospective workers–employers should do it where it feels natural and true to their brand.“The authenticity piece I think is most crucial, whether you’re scaling up or not,” Lockey said. “If you’re just trying to hire warm bodies–that’s not authentic. You want to hire people for a purpose, to be on a team and make an impact both on your team members’ lives and your clients.”Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Fountain, for sponsoring this webinar.Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza is a freelance journalist and From Day One contributing editor who writes about work, the job market, and women’s experiences in the workplace. Her work has appeared in the Economist, the BBC, The Washington Post, Quartz, Fast Company, and Digiday’s Worklife.

Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza | June 05, 2024

How Investing in Employee Experience Brings a Positive Return

With all the employee-experience software options to choose from, the idea of choosing one to incorporate into your HR structure can be daunting. And in times of tightening budgets, it can be challenging to make the case for the spending. But according to a recent study by employee experience platform WorkTango, organizations that invest in employee-experience software see a 2-to-3 times return on the money they put into it.The study surveyed 1,077 North American HR leaders, 90% of whom said that knowing which employees are engaged is especially important in an uncertain economic climate. An interested and enthused workforce is a loyal, steady workforce and employee experience (EX) software can help HR managers keep a finger on the pulse of workers’ attitudes, needs, and desires.As WorkTango states in its recent report, “EX investments represent a low risk and high potential reward when it comes to creating an employee experience that connects your workforce across hybrid environments, supports the daily efforts of individual employees, and enables every team member to perform at their highest level.” Ninety-three percent of those surveyed achieved a positive or neutral ROI from investing in EX software.Finding the Right SoftwareAmong the several types of EX software on the market, each has its own unique offering to complement your organization’s long- and short-term strategies and goals. Among those surveyed, 70% prioritized software that helped with performance management, 67% wanted employee recognition and rewards, and 56% needed support with employee listening and surveys.Some employees respond better to certain interactions with organizational leadership than others. WorkTango recommends surveying team members to see what matters most to them, from public recognition to company swag, and then choosing software accordingly. Ideally, you should identify a solution provider that offers several capabilities within a single platform for maximum ROI.Click above to view and download WorkTango's reportAs you make your software selection, WorkTango suggests focusing on the three deciding factors listed as most important among those surveyed: reporting and analytics capabilities, ease of use, and cost. That said, researchers noticed that among the few companies that reported neutral or negative benefits reaped from employee experience software, all named cost as their top deciding factor. It’s important to invest in a quality product, and not just check a box while watching the budget.The ROI on Employee Experience InvestmentsWhat do employers hope to achieve with their investment in employee experience technology? It’s not just about saving money or making the HR department more efficient, although those are certainly added benefits. The focus for many organizations is the return on individual people. The top areas of expected ROI among those surveyed were an increase in employee productivity or performance, an increase in employee retention, and an increase in customer satisfaction.According to WorkTango’s report, it takes time, as well as employee adoption and utilization, to produce positive outcomes. You may not see results overnight, as the employee-experience technology implementation requires a gradual culture shift. Seventy percent of the HR leaders surveyed said that their executive team expects to hear about the impact of these investments within the first six months.It’s important for HR to align on executive expectations for key updates and have a conversation about the timeframe for implementation and what is realistic and measurable. HR leaders should be prepared to report on three key areas: people ROI (employee engagement and regrettable turnover), company ROI (customer satisfaction and performance/productivity), and HR’s ROI (cost savings and team efficiency).The real ROI results are clear: EX software is the smart, meaningful, and financially savvy choice. Out of the 1,077 organizations surveyed who invested in this technology:65% achieved higher employee productivity and performance 58% improved employee retention54% increased customer satisfaction33% saved on costs compared to their previous efforts32% saw a higher employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), meaning employees are more likely to recommend the company31% reduced the total HR time spent administering employee-experience programs31% saw reduced absenteeism17% saw an increase in Glassdoor ratings16% saw an increase in company stock performanceBest Practices for Achieving ROIA few trends popped up among those surveyed who had success with their employee-experience software. These organizations prioritized data-based measurement of the program’s impact over anecdotal evidence, setting specific goals and then measuring against those goals over time to demonstrate value.They also aligned early with executive leadership on what success for EX investments should look like, whether that’s an increase in productivity, retention, customer satisfaction, referrals, positive brand awareness, or a combination of all those factors. And finally, these organizations encouraged and incentivized employee experience platform adoption.The more the platform is successfully used, the higher the ROI.Frequent employee recognition and engagement was positively correlated to company performance, with those surveyed seeing an increase in quarterly revenue. WorkTango’s ROI report states that “supporting employees by investing in the employee experience leads to what we call the compound interest of a great team member: they stick around longer (retention), they produce at a higher level (performance), and as a bonus, they tell others about what a great company they work for.” By investing in the happiness of their employees, leaders are investing in the success, growth, and longevity of the organization.Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, WorkTango, for sponsoring this sponsor spotlight. Download WorkTango’s ROI report here.Katie Chambers is a freelance writer and award-winning communications executive with a lifelong commitment to supporting artists and advocating for inclusion. Her work has been seen in HuffPost and several printed essay collections, among others, and she has appeared on CBS New York, Cheddar News, and iWomanTV.

Katie Chambers | June 04, 2024

Bridging Business Goals with Human-Centric Hiring to Impact the Bottom Line

As a young finance and real estate professional who witnessed mergers and acquisitions fail from the inside, Stephanie Manzelli realized that a critical component of a deal’s success was in the aftermath: how well the people were integrated culturally into the newly merged workplace.With this revelation, she changed direction and embarked on a career in HR with an emphasis on talent management and acquisition. Now as the senior vice president of human resources and diversity, equity and inclusion at Lever, a talent acquisition suite and an Employ brand, Manzelli has developed key strategies for successful hires.I spoke to Manzelli during From Day One’s webinar, Intentional Recruiting: Bridging Business Goals with Human Centric Hiring to Impact the Bottom Line. During this fireside chat, she shared insights and advice, particularly on how to map out a company’s goals and influence leadership.Manzelli made it clear that knowing a company’s business goals is only one part of understanding its needs. She breaks down each business goal into a four-part roadmap that then allows her to analyze what skills and experience the company needs to meet its objectives. Manzelli calls this horizon mapping.Horizon mapping begins with the ultimate goal and then reverse engineers the interim horizons to meet that goal. She gave the example of a company that wants to go public in a few years. She sets that as horizon four. The three horizons before that are big goals, or “rocks,” the company needs to achieve to successfully attain horizon four. So horizon two might be a successful series A funding round. “Underneath each of these horizons, every business unit has deliverables that they must achieve,” she said.Once the horizon has been mapped, she does a talent gap analysis and develops what she calls a “make versus buy strategy.” ‘Make’ refers to developing skills within the current talent pool of employees at the company, whereas ‘buy’ is talent acquisition. Using horizon mapping, “we find the roadmap that we need to start to build out those talent pools and source the right candidates more proactively, so that we can fill those business needs before our business actually needs them. And that should be the North Star,” Manzelli said.Stephanie Manzelli of Lever was interviewed by journalist Jeanhee Kim during the From Day One webinar (photo by From Day One)Sometimes it’s not easy to know what the business goals are, Manzelli acknowledged, that it takes one-on-one discussions with key business leaders and skill to build the right relationships within the company and communicate effectively. One of the most effective skills she employs is influencing without authority, which requires “flexing your communication style to meet the needs of your audience.”Knowing the styles of your leaders is essential. For data-driven individuals, Manzelli comes to the conversation armed with reports, metrics and return-on-investment figures. Other leaders depend on their gut and intuition. Those conversations are easier, she says, and are based on relationships and trust. But to maintain that trust, she prepares the reports as backup.“I always enter an organization or a conversation as slowly as I can. I really like to build the relationship before we dive into the tasks,” Manzelli said. “It's not a thing that takes me a long time to do, but it does pay off on the backend, and ensures the people that I’m partnering with have the bedrock of a relationship with me.” That relationship building then allows the leadership to have more open dialogue about their goals.These skills, horizon mapping and influencing without authority, are key for any successful HR professional. “HR, right, wrong or indifferent, is oftentimes looked at as a highly administrative function where we’re often only engaged when people need help.”But she said knowing what your company’s goals are and how HR and talent acquisition can get the company to meet its goals is always in the back of her mind. “You always have to make that connection point for the business. That’s our responsibility.”Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Lever, an Employ brand, for sponsoring this webinar. Jeanhee Kim is an independent journalist who has worked for CoinDesk, Crain’s New York Business, Money magazine and Forbes Asia. 

Jeanhee Kim | May 30, 2024