Employee Engagement

More disasters are coming… but business resilience can help

Lydia Watson

Trains spilling over with bodies, streets bustling again, sandwich shops doing a roaring trade – it’s the sort of sight that might raise an ironic cry of “nature is healing!”. But for many, it really does feel like things are going back to normal after a long, alarming pandemic.

That’s great. But the (depressing) question still remains: for how long? 

The bad news: change, chaos & business disruption is far from over

After a challenging few years, it’s not surprising that people cling to optimism. But the unfortunate reality is that the pandemic was not necessarily a once-in-a-blue-moon event – both in terms of global health events, and market disruption more generally…

1. The next pandemic

In the same way you wouldn’t expect another world war, and could anticipate the pandemic becoming one of those time-defining ‘one-offs’, it’s understandable to want to write the past few years off. But the troubling reality is far more bleak.

Data suggests that similar public health crises are becoming increasingly likely, expected to rise by three times in the coming decades. But not only are these outbreaks going to keep happening, some researchers suggest that the health risk could be far higher.

2. The climate crisis

The word ‘change’ has been swapped for ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’, giving the rightful urgency to arguably the world’s biggest problem. The global temperature increases are causing natural disasters of all types – from wildfires and droughts to flooding and tropical storms. 

This is an ‘everyone’ problem, but one that businesses are falling behind on. Research found only minimal, short-term actions being taken by companies – despite pressure from stakeholders, and the risk to financial stability including whether their offering will stay viable.

3. The changing population

Though less obviously disruptive, the world’s shifting population poses significant challenges to businesses. Longer lifespans mean the workforce and their needs will keep changing, for one. With that comes the different demands employees and customers have – for socially, ecologically, and economically responsible organisations.

Expectations about working habits can also be disruptive. Since the introduction of the weekend in the early 19th century, such a shift has yet to be – but remote working, flexible hours, and four-day-week schemes are reframing work in everyone’s mind. With automation and AI, the possibility for dramatic change is real.  

The good news: organisational resilience can help

Those are just the external challenges you’ll have to face in the coming years. Combined with the usual disruption the average business undergoes, the meaning of BAU might become more and more obscure. So how can you persevere? 

Business resilience is the key. When your business is resilient, it’s able to respond and react – while still providing its product or services, and engaging its workforce. And it’s linked to three main benefits, as described in the Harvard Business Review:

  • Anticipation benefit: being able to quickly recognise incoming challenges
  • Impact benefit: being able to cope better with the initial crisis
  • Recovery speed benefit: being able to respond and react more effectively

What does resilience mean in business?

Organisational resilience means being able to both react to both sudden and gradual change and anticipate those events before they happen. Being strong enough to cope when a crisis hits is one thing, adapting to respond to it is another. Similarly, being able to see change coming is as crucial as responding quickly when it does.

How do you build a business resilience framework?

There are a number of technical and financial considerations, when it comes to becoming a resilient organisation, but your people are at the heart of it all. Here’s three things to consider with that in mind:

  • A diverse team, and an environment that encourages diversity of thought, is one crucial element. This helps organisations innovate, and avoid falling back on standard solutions that don’t apply within a crisis scenario
  • If your people understand your business’ purpose, they’ll be better inclined to respond appropriately when faced with an unknown situation. This is called “embeddedness” and also helps the company follow changing social imperatives, reducing any friction points
  • Planning and preparedness in the form of ‘war games’ can help people react quickly, without overreacting or panicking. Your employees will be crucial for getting through the rough patches, so making sure they’re ready is crucial

Measure & improve your resilience with our Organisational Fitness survey

You might be asking ‘what is organisational fitness?’ It’s about understanding your people through-and-through, and assessing how resilient they are in the face of change. It asks your employees about 16 key areas – from ‘leadership’ to ‘inclusion’ – to get a 360 degree view of your organisation’s general capacity to respond, react, and cope with change.

 

Organisational Fitness survey

We’ve also proven that if you have a high ‘org fit’ score, you’re:

  • 4.6x times more likely to have higher profits
  • 16x times more likely to have higher NPS scores
  • 1.4x times more often to be the most profitable in your sector

Understanding how you score today means identifying ways to improve – and that means you’ll be able to face whatever comes your way.

Try our organisational fitness survey for free. Try our Employee Feedback Platform (no credit card needed), so you can build a more resilient business:

It’s time to start the conversation

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