Topic: Company Culture

Less Reactionary, More Reliable: The Nimbly Resilient Workplace


Company Culture

Updated on: 

February 12, 2024

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There are 79% less odds of burnout when employees believe they are nimbly resilient. —2024 Global Culture Report, O.C. Tanner Institute

Think about the curveballs the world has thrown at workplaces over the past decade. The political unrest. The cultural reckonings. The economic uncertainty. The Great Resignations and “remotifications.” The dizzying debut of generative AI.

In the face of such challenges, many organizations resort to a grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it approach. But new research from the O.C. Tanner Institute shows that a shift in mindset can help companies and their people thrive through even the most disruptive changes.

Traditional resilience vs. nimble resilience

The traditional notion of resilience often aligns with that “grit your teeth” mentality mentioned above—just push through and hope you come out the other side intact. And when practiced in the workplace, the onus often falls on employees:

53% of employees say they’re expected to just push through challenges without complaint, which leads to a 125% higher likelihood of burnout.
—2024 Global Culture Report

Traditional resilience also tends to be reactionary: A company encounters an obstacle and everyone scrambles to patch the holes.

Nimble resilience, on the other hand, requires foresight and contingency planning and sees challenges as opportunities to grow and improve, rather than storms to weather.

The ingredients of nimble resilience in the workplace

To build nimble resilience into your company’s culture, start by understanding its key components:

 Pie chart graphic showing the 3 main components of nimble resilience: adaptability, proactivity, and perseverance.

It’s important to anticipate challenges and preemptively seek new ways of doing things. Are you paying attention to shifts in your industry and asking “what if”? Are you creating plans A, B, and C?

You can’t predict every challenge. When change occurs, how are you responding? Are you encouraging employees to think creatively, share ideas, and collaborate with other teams and departments?

Setbacks happen, and plans fail. How are you bolstering morale? Are you broadcasting wins when the going gets tough? Helping employees recharge? Rewarding their efforts?

How to encourage nimble resilience at work

Instilling the approach of nimble resilience requires alignment and intentional action at the executive level.

Be transparent. Employees can better adapt when they understand the challenges the organization is facing.

Encourage collaboration. Employees can embrace new perspectives when they think and work closely with others.

Offer flexibility and autonomy. Employees can pivot when they don’t feel overly constrained by job descriptions and org charts. And they can apply more energy to problem-solving at work when they have the space to attend to their personal lives.

Train and support leaders. Nimble resilience is taught by example. Hold leaders accountable for communicating transparently, removing barriers, giving employees flexibility, and soliciting feedback. And ensure they have the resources and support they need.

Reward and recognize. Show appreciation when employees demonstrate attributes of nimble resilience. Share recognition-worthy stories across the company so everyone sees examples of nimble resilience. Create a recognition program that encourages employees to embrace change, collaborate, and innovate.

The bottom line

The odds of positive business and cultural outcomes are dramatically higher at nimbly resilient organizations:

+158% odds of greater revenue
+737% odds of innovation in the face of obstacles
+634% odds of employees having a strong desire to stay for at least a year
+914% odds of having a thriving workplace culture

See more compelling correlations between nimble resilience and key business results, and read real stories of nimble resilience at work, in the 2024 Global Culture Report.