Resilience examples in the workplace (plus definition)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Resilience means having the capacity to recover after facing challenges and barriers. Resilience at work can include dealing successfully with stress, setbacks and disappointments. Being resilient can improve your performance and help you achieve success in a variety of professional circumstances. In this article, we define resilience and discuss some examples of resilience at work to help you understand how to overcome professional challenges.

What is resilience?

Resilience refers to your ability to recover and persevere after encountering a challenge or barrier. An important aspect of resilience is solving problems quickly, especially ones that arise on a daily basis. These small problems can compound if you don't resolve them in a timely manner, making resilience an important skill to develop.

Apart from being able to successfully handle stress or problems when they arise, resilience also involves emotional flexibility and management. Being emotionally resilient can help you learn from past mistakes by analysing them objectively applying what you've learned to future scenarios.

Resilience examples

Below are some resilience examples to help you understand methods of building your professional resilience:

Managing your emotions

Showing resilience can be challenging, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed during difficult situations. Learning how to control your emotions helps to improve your resilience. Taking a moment to calm down, performing breathing exercises or practising daily mediation can help you effectively manage your emotions.

Example: Susan is feeling upset about negative feedback from a recent project. She notices herself getting emotional and takes a break to calm down and rationalise the situation. She breaks down her next moves into manageable steps, such as trying a new way of working instead of complaining about old habits or routines to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Being flexible

Flexibility is a key element to showing resilience. Sometimes, that means being ready to take a new route or test a different approach if things aren't working out as you'd like them to. It can also mean adapting to unexpected changes without sacrificing the quality of your work. By taking initiative, reassessing the priority levels of your existing tasks and making changes to your schedule to accommodate additional responsibilities, you can build resilience to sudden and unexpected changes.

Example: Your colleague has deadlines approaching but is sick and can't complete them to the best of their ability. You can build resilience to this unexpected issue by asking if they'd like you to pick up some of their tasks and reorganising your schedule to accommodate for the additional workload.

Related: How to be flexible at work (with steps and tips)

Believing in yourself

Even when it feels like the odds are against you, it's possbile to build resilience by believing in your abbilities and finding motivation to complete your tasks. Finding motivation within yourself is important, but you can also seek support from family and friends. Remaining optimistic about your abilities can help build resilience as well as confidence, which may help you identify and accept opportunities that you otherwise wouldn't consider. Optimism about your circumstances is an important aspect of growing your resilience and could help you to develop skills, create a larger network of professional acquaintances and gain the confidence to accept new opportunities.

Example: Daniel graduated from university with a business degree, but had no job offers and little clarity on his professional aspirations. He decided to remain optimistic and believe in his ability to succeed, so he volunteered at a charity shop near his house, even though it wasn't what he originally pictured himself doing. Once there, he started to develop useful skills about running a business. Daniel applied these new skills to begin his own charity shop and became a successful business owner.

Making use of what you have

An important aspect of being resilient is focusing on the useful tools you have at your disposal. This can help you remain resourceful and seek solutions that may not be obvious. If you're not given all that you require to do your job or contribute to a certain project, consider maximising the resources already at your disposal. Being resourceful is an example of resilience that everyone can practice, no matter what position they hold within an organisation.

Example: If you're working on a team project and are working on a task you aren't well-versed in, find out what others on your team can teach you that can help you get up to speed. If there are still gaps in your knowledge, research via books or the internet.

Embracing change

Embracing change is one of the most fundamental elements of building resilience. If you can embrace change by viewing it as an opportunity to learn and grow, you are showing resilience and you can succeed. If you can remain positive through these changes (and use them to enhance your performance), then it says a lot about the kind of person you are.

Example: When Emma started her job at a publishing company, her responsibilities were to organise authors' calendars and book their flights. Six months later, she earned a promotion and is now responsible for mentoring new employees as well. She has embraced change by viewing it as an opportunity to learn new skills that can help further her career, rather than something threatening or negative.

Creating opportunities for yourself

When faced with challenges, always strive to be resilient by creating opportunities. You can learn more about yourself, strengthen your relationships and advance professionally. When you find opportunities within a difficult time, focus on moving forward rather than letting challenges hold you back. Remember that resilience isn't just about rebounding from failures, it's also about making sure you build positive experiences into your life.

Example: There was an employee who wanted a promotion, but there were no positions available in his department. He still wanted a chance to prove himself and continue moving up within his company. So instead of waiting for a new position to open, he started looking for ways that he could help fill any existing gaps in other departments. In time, he earned a promotion because his extra effort was helping the company save time and money.

Viewing criticism as a learning opportunity

People who demonstrate resilience are often skilled at taking rejection or criticism with grace. When something doesn't work out, they move on and try a different approach instead of ruminating on the negative feedback they may have received. If there weren't any failures, we wouldn't have success stories. So, if you feel like you haven't been able to recover from a rejection well enough, start thinking about what you can do differently next time around.

Example: Beth felt like she was a brilliant candidate for a job, but she didn't get the position. Instead of feeling embarrassed and avoiding the company, she decided to email her contact and ask what she could do better next time around. The feedback she received helped her improve her interview skills and land a new position.

Related: 7 ways to communicate effectively at work

What does resilience look like in the workplace?

The best resilience examples demonstrate how well someone copes with problems and changes. Even if you can't control what happens to you, there are several actions you can take at work that help build your resilience. You can see observe at work, even when it doesn't seem obvious. Understanding behaviours that may help you build resilience can inform your decisions when facing challenges or difficult tasks. Being resilient in the workplace includes:

  • not taking rejection personally

  • being self-aware

  • looking for opportunities

  • never giving up on yourself

  • having the ability to reason

  • preparing for a range of situations

  • continuing to learn and grow

  • embracing change

Related: 11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

Why is resilience important?

Resiliencey is important because it describes a type of strength that helps people overcome obstacles, tolerate frustration, or recover quickly from failure. Being resilient can be challenging, but it has many positive outcomes for employees and employers alike. Even with training and tools to help them succeed, challenges may be inevitable in the workplace. Whether it's losing an important account or receiving imperfect feedback during a performance review, how you react when things go wrong can make a measurable impression on your professional success, personal happiness and relationships in the workplace.


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