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Getting Real About Resilience

How exactly do you define resilience?

It’s a tough one – especially when it comes to the workplace environment. But it’s something that Aon have put squarely in the spotlight with its new report The Rising Resilient: How Workforce Resilience Will Enable Businesses to Thrive.


"We see organizational resiliency as the ability to weather change, the ability to make stronger teams, and the ability to deliver a stronger result as a result of those,” says Joey Raheb, senior vice president and National Leader Growth & Client Engagement, Health Solutions at Aon.


“We were trying to understand: What drives resiliency? What are the factors behind it? What are the implications to an organization that focuses on resiliency?”

In surveying 2,500 professionals, Aon discovered eye-opening statistics.

“Organizations that have focused on resiliency in their workforce see material business results,” says Raheb. “A three-per-cent increase in wellbeing also provides a one-per-cent increase in both customer and employee satisfaction. A four-per-cent increase in wellbeing provides a one-per-cent increase in company profits.”

It’s the case, then, that resiliency and wellness go hand-in-hand – and provide great results. So, what can organizations do to ensure these results for themselves?

“When speaking to HR professionals, everybody understands the importance of employee wellness,” he says.

“But the challenge has always been this: If someone is going to put $1 of investment into wellness, where are they going to see that return on investment in the business? Because as much as HR professionals are focused on the people of the organization, they are also enablers of people to help drive business results. The organization exists for a purpose – so they must wonder if they are throwing good money at this without any real benefit to their business. The key driver for us was helping tie in business results to that investment in wellbeing.”


Leadership, investment

One of the most important things is getting leadership support and an organizational vision around resiliency and wellbeing, says Raheb.


“That is almost pivotal to this being a success. It starts from the top down, right? If your leaders are speaking the language of employee wellbeing and are focused on wellbeing, the net positive effect permeates itself throughout the organization.”


Leaders also need to recognize that employees are individuals, so no single program is going to provide the be-all-and-end-all for a team, he says.

“It's got to be an all-encompassing vision that you've got to build on. And you can't just set yourself a vision and goal like you're going to be the epitome of a resilient workforce in the next 12 months. That's just not an achievable goal or objective. Leaders have to be realistic.”

Some things do require actual hard dollar investment – so, obviously, the bigger an organization is, the more scalable some of this stuff is, says Raheb.

“But it doesn't mean that just because you're a smaller or medium-sized enterprise, that you can't do anything. For instance, you can do things like focus on family leave time, work-life balance – the sorts of things that can have equal or better effects within your workforce yet which don't have the same hard dollar expense.”


Strategies for resilience

Aon outlines several possible strategies and approaches in the report – including 10 factors pinpointed by the World Health Organization as influencing a resilient workforce. Among these are encouraging health-positive behaviours, delivering clarity and purpose, developing financial security, and embracing inclusivity.

It is a topic that the industry in general needs to pay much closer attention to, says Raheb.


“There’s been an ongoing conversation for the last 20+ years around driving employee engagement,” he says. “Yet one statistic that really surprised me was that only 17 per cent of North American companies reported incorporating all five dimensions of wellbeing [financial, physical, social, career and emotional] into their strategy.”


It’s all part of an industry-changing conversation that Aon is eager to start, says Raheb.

“That's predominantly what this is about,” he says. “It's about creating a conversation with employers around the things that they can do to help foster a resilient workforce. Some of those may be implementable programs that Aon can support; some of those may be other things that businesses will need to focus on themselves.”

Aon gives organizations a broader framework to think about this whole topic in a logical, systematic way, so that they can see the interconnections and that everything has an overarching strategy, he says.

“When someone implements one of these programs or one of these solutions, it's in connection with our broader vision and strategy around driving resiliency and wellbeing.”

You can read Aon’s eBook ‘The Rising Resilient: How Workforce Resilience Will Enable Businesses to Thrive’ here: Aon eBook

This article originally appeared in Canadian HR Reporter (November 2021).