Habits of Resilient Employees

The economy, the way people want to live and work, and a whole host of other factors (not to mention COVID!) are changing the way work gets done. Some employees are adapting right along with the changes, but many are having difficulties. Coping with today’s stresses on the job requires a different set of strategies and skills, which is why being a resilient employee is so important.

There can be numerous setbacks and unexpected changes in the workplace which require workers to recalibrate their career expectations. But what exactly are the habits of resilient employees? What reserves do they draw upon to stay on course and work through the changes that are thrown at them? Well, to begin with, resilient people do not give in to anger or despair when faced with a setback. Instead, they tap into a greater purpose to bounce back stronger than ever.

Resilient people have a good idea of the ‘big picture’. They do not look at the job, or career in terms of next week, next month, or even next year. They have a strong sense of purpose, and some are even so sure of their career journey that they have mapped their exit strategies. Now, this may not be possible, or even feasible in your particular circumstance. But having the vision to know what you want out of your career can be of enormous benefit to help you ride through tough patches. 

The general personality type of resilient employees can be summed as stoic. Stoicism may not seem the most dynamic or enviable character traits. But a stoic person, as described by Nassim Taleb, the scholar and risk-analyst, is someone who “…transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.” These are wise words, and one that should form a mantra for you if you are undergoing a massive seas-change in your work environment. 

Being authentic in your actions is also key to resilient employees. Resilient employees work in accordance with their values and strengths. So many employees expend a massive amount of energy trying to be what they think their boss or co-workers want them to be that they lose sight of who they are, and what their real strengths are. As they try to do everything perfectly, their authenticity fades away. So many employees are scared of showing any kind of weakness or vulnerability that when a real crisis arises, they simply have no tools to draw upon to cope with it properly. Vulnerability feels like weakness but looks like courage to everyone else. Putting yourself out there will give you the confidence to beat the odds, and that feels like freedom.

What are the habits of resilient employees?

What about the ‘Glass half full’ analogy? Isn’t that resilience? Forget it. Talk about optimism, and most people will think of that glass analogy. But what does having a glass half-full mean? Is it really optimism – or just denial? For some, it means never facing reality. They will not go to their doctor to check out a lump, because ‘everything will be okay’. Other avoiders believe that going for a health check would suggest they are not optimistic (and they know that successful people are always optimistic). One irrational optimist once said he does not take out insurance because that would suggest he was expecting to claim, ‘and that’s a pessimistic way to look at life’. For rational optimists, having a glass half-full suggests they believe that, generally speaking, life will work out okay. That general sense of optimism is healthy. Rational optimists do focus on the positive, but it does not stop them facing reality. It does not stop them being pessimistic from time-to-time.

Ultimately, it all boils down the three C’s of successful resilience.  


Take control of what you can control. Resilient employees develop a plan. In a crisis, yours might only be a plan for the day, but make it and put it into action. Develop a medium-term recovery plan. Be specific, even if you have to update the plan and the target dates later. Do something immediately to get your recovery plan underway. 


Resilient employees stay committed to the plan. They may change it as they go along, but they are always putting their plan into action. They are committed to their jobs too. They happily call on others for support and offer help to those who need it. Staying committed to your job is vital. Give colleagues a gift – the opportunity to help.


It is easy to say, but the hardest to do. See recovery as a challenge. See yourself as a survivor, not a victim. Work on that idea. 

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