Adaptability and resilience at work

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The short-term impact of the pandemic was immediate and often severe. Millions of people lost their jobs or were furloughed, and with the pandemic rapidly accelerating the trend in remote working and ecommerce, millions more had to quickly adjust to working from home.

Those other workers who were deemed essential found a whole new way of working as social distancing and other protocols, such as masks and PPE, were brought in to reduce the spread of the virus.

According to Deloitte’s European Workforce Survey, 60% of workers across Europe claim to have had no major difficulty adapting to Covid-19–inflicted changes. However, that means that 40% could not make that claim, and organisations need to examine the response of their workforce to determine what coping mechanisms worked best and how they can build up the resilience and adaptability of each individual as we continue to face the pandemic’s ever-present and evolving threat.

As Camilla Weeks, head of student recruitment at KPMG in the UK, says: ‘Adaptability and resilience are hugely important skills, and strengths we certainly look out for as part of our talent selection process. These skills are critical to success in so many roles and align to the behaviours we look for in all our colleagues to exhibit, whether it be for those in early years of their career or for experienced senior hires. If anything, the pandemic has placed even greater focus on these skills.’

Weeks believes that adaptability is fuelled by curiosity, and it is something the firm encourages.

‘The opportunities available at our firm are vast, so for colleagues to develop both professionally and personally, we offer the tools and platform to [show curiosity],’ she says. ‘That still requires colleagues to push themselves forward on that journey, so being inquisitive, constantly seeking out new information or feedback and always striving to improve and develop are key indicators we take note of.’

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When it comes to resilience, Weeks says that a positive attitude is key.

‘We’ve all faced times when challenges must be overcome to achieve a certain goal,’ she says‘What’s important is how you ensure that you keep focused during such times of change, stress and instability. During our selection process, we look for candidates who demonstrate the ability to maintain a positive attitude when faced with obstacles and look for ways to overcome them. It also showcases a candidate who is aware of their emotions and are able to frame difficulties in a constructive manner.’

Five techniques help you build your resilience and improve your ability to adapt to difficult situations

Believe in yourself
Research has shown that self-esteem plays an important role in coping with stress and recovering from difficult events. Remind yourself of your strengths and achievements. Having confidence in your own ability to cope with the stresses of life can play an important part in resilience.

Create a strong personal and professional network
Social support is critical for health and wellbeing, so make sure you have caring and supporting people around you. Build up trusted relationships in the workplace, such as having a mentor, so that there are people you can confide in as and when challenges arise.

Embrace change
Change is a natural and constant part of life, but it can be scary and difficult. Accepting and embracing change allows you to adapt better to change and become more flexible. It allows you to learn new things that you normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do and, even if the change involves failure, a lot more can be learned from failure than success.

Be optimistic
Although sometimes easier said than done, maintaining a hopeful outlook is an important part of resiliency. Try to remind yourself that setbacks are temporary and that you have the skills and abilities to overcome the challenges you face.

Set and manage goals
Waiting for a problem to disappear simply makes matters worse. If you tackle it head on and start working on resolving the issue, you are immediately taking steps to improve the situation. Focus on progress and plan your next steps and, by actively working on the problem, you will feel more in control.

This article was first published in Student Accountant in December 2021

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