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Will Mitchell


Director of Consulting

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Blog: Is there a link between staff resilience and engagement levels?


Resilience has been a hot topic for me lately and that trend isn’t slowing.

One of my colleagues recently attended the Division of Occupational Psychology’s Annual Conference where he presented a paper: Is an employee’s level of resilience related to their work engagement?
In this, Ali Shalfrooshan studied the relationship between individual resilience and work engagement with interesting results. Significant connections were found between the two aspects. The study raises the possibility that building an individual’s resilience may also help to improve their engagement.

In this changing environment an employee’s mindset in coping with change is increasingly becoming important for organisations to survive and thrive. However, despite the relationship between resilience and engagement being directly suggested in various HR models, there are no studies that we are aware of that directly examine the relationship between the two constructs.
A total of 561 participants took part in this study, where they were asked to complete two questionnaires: a Resilience Questionnaire and a State Engagement Questionnaire.
The Resilience Questionnaire measured eight components of resilience; Self-belief, Optimism, Purposeful Direction, Adaptability, Ingenuity, Challenge Orientation, Emotion Regulation and Support Seeking, while the Engagement Questionnaire comprised of four elements; Meaning, Enthusiasm, Absorption, and Identification. 
The results found significant links between all of the eight components of resilience and the four states of engagement. The relationship between the individual scales ranged from the lowest between Support Seeking and Absorption and the highest between Purposeful Direction and Meaning.
Overall the research demonstrated that resilient attitudes and behaviours appear to be significantly related to an individual’s level of engagement. Based on the analysis, five components of Resilience accounted for a third of the variance in state engagement. These results suggest that people with higher levels of engagement:
  • Have confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles and problems they encounter (Self-Belief)
  • Believe they will experience good outcomes in their life (Optimism)
  • Have clear goals they are committed to achieving (Purposeful Direction)
  • Enjoy challenging experiences and see these situations as opportunities to learn and develop (Challenge Orientation)
  • Are willing to ask others for support and have people they can go to (Support Seeking).
Identifying this link between resilience and employee engagement is just the first step. It is important now that organisations look at developing resilience within their workforce with models such as the experiential learning cycle mentioned in my previous blog post. Ignoring this issue could leave an organisation struggling in an already difficult market.

Will Mitchell is director of consulting at talent management consultancy, A&DC.

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Will Mitchell

Director of Consulting

Read more from Will Mitchell

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