Creating resilience starts with recruitment

In times of crisis, many companies want to show their resilience but the ability to do so doesn’t come in the blink of an eye. Working towards a resilient organisation and sustainable employability starts with your employees and their strengths and needs. This means that you can build resilience into your HR policies in a very concrete manner.

Mieke Quatacker

Resilience and sustainable employability

From personal problems to a professional disappointment to a pandemic that turns just about everything in our lives upside down: unfortunately, everyone encounters certain setbacks sooner or later. Fortunately, it is precisely at those moments that our power of resilience also surfaces. Resilience is the ability to remain positive and future-oriented in the face of adversity and to bounce back.

In recent years, resilience has become a crucial building block for companies striving to create sustainable employability. Employees who can adapt when the situation demands it, help make the organisation resilient. Research has already confirmed the importance of resilience within the area of HR policies, but it is useful to look into how you can make resilience a concrete reality within your organisation.

Whether your employees are resilient in their jobs always depends on a variety of factors. For example, it is important that the employee and employer share the same values. But we also see that resilience is equally linked to having the right competencies. Therefore, resilience and, by extension, sustainable employability are factors that you must pay attention to as soon as you start setting up a recruitment and selection process.

A job that energises employees

Naturally, checking whether there is a match in terms of values is part of a selection process, but how do you establish a concrete link between a competence model and resilience starting from that phase? It is important to use the right perspective when recognising competencies. Use a competency model not only to assess whether a candidate can perform a task correctly but also to find out whether doing that job will mentally energise him or her.

In fact, researchers see an important connection between this kind of mental energy and resilience. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, one of the founders of positive psychology, discovered that people are especially happy when they are completely absorbed in what they are doing, forgetting about time and place. He describes this feeling as ‘flow’. To experience this flow, the level of challenge offered by a task, on the one hand, and the competency level of the person performing the task, on the other, need to be perfectly in balance. If a task is too difficult for the person in question, it causes stress and panic. If a task is too easy, it leads to boredom and becomes tedious.

From work engagement to resilience

The Dutch occupational and organisation psychologists Wilmar Shaufeli and Arnold Bakker have translated the concept of flow to the workplace. They called it ‘work engagement’ and defined it as a “positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterised by vigour, dedication, and absorption”. In their Job Demands-Resources Model (JD-R Model), they see engagement as the antithesis of burnout. All employees are faced with certain job requirements, but they also have certain resources at their disposal to assist them or give them energy. If the balance between these two aspects is lost, this can lead to burnout. However, if your work inspires and motivates you, then we can speak of work engagement. It is this engagement, based on having the right competencies, that energises employees mentally and thus helps your organisation to become resilient.

Resilience in practice

The insights on flow, mental energy and resilience are in line with many existing HR methods. This allows HR Departments to work towards building a resilient organisation with the help of very tangible tools. To conclude, we provide you with three concrete approaches to help you get started.

Competence models and assessment centres

At Hudson, the competence models and assessment methodology that we have developed are focused on the idea that doing what you do best will give you energy and that more energy will allow you to better cope with difficult situations. This allows us to make a complete analysis of a candidate depending on the job he or she is applying for. However, rapid changes at work make it increasingly important for employees to be able to learn continuously within the organisation. Sustainable employability is therefore also linked to competence development. In particular, the agile mindset and skills of employees determine the extent to which a company can adapt and evolve in a world that is rapidly changing, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It is precisely for this reason that we focus, via our Agility Lab, on mapping and developing the agile skills of employees.

Coaching and competence management

Organisations must create a context that enables employees to be successful. But at the same time, employees must also take on the responsibility of working towards sustainable employability. Persistently questioning themselves and their competencies is essential in a world that is constantly evolving. They must continue to ask themselves questions such as ‘What’s going on with my skills?’, ‘Are there opportunities for the future?’ and ‘Am I happy at the workplace?’. Asking such questions will encourage employees to take targeted initiatives independently or together with the employer. Of course, this may also mean that they may look for other opportunities if their current job no longer provides the necessary satisfaction. That too is a form of resilience, which you can support in a very concrete way by offering employees goal-oriented assistance via coaching, competence management and development plans.

Personal connection

Culture is the most recognisable but least tangible element of a context that focuses on sustainable employability. That’s why, during interviews with candidates, it is important to also pay attention to the person’s value system. Ensure a proper alignment with the mission, vision, norms and values of the organisation. It is an indisputable fact that candidates and employees want to feel personally connected to the organisation they work for. This feeling of connectedness lays the foundation for greater self-confidence, motivation, productivity and resilience, paving the way for higher retention and sustainable employability.

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