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Workplace Resilience Study | 2020


HBR: What Really Makes Us Resilient?

September 28, 2020 | read time icon 10 min

by Marcus Buckingham
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Harvard Business Review, September 29th, 2020.

What is this thing called resilience, and how can each of us cultivate it in our own lives?

To begin to answer these questions, my team at the ADP Research Institute undertook two field studies. The first focused on identifying the sources of resilience, pinpointing the best questions to measure it, and then playing out the specific prescriptions to increase resilience in yourself and those you lead and care about.

The second was a global study of resilience around world. We took the ten best resilience questions and asked them of twenty-five thousand working adults from twenty-five different countries. In each country we first constructed a sample stratified to reflect the demographic make-up of each country’s workforce,  and then in the month of July 2020 we posed these ten questions so as to calculate the percentage of workers in each country who were ‘Highly Resilient.’

My thesis going in was that those countries which had responded most effectively to the Covid-19 epidemic – as measured by number of deaths, cases, cases per million – would display the most resilient workforce.

I was wrong. The thesis didn’t hold up. Instead a very different pattern emerged, one that revealed not only how you can build resilience in your own life, but also why so many of our senior leaders are pursuing the wrong path in their attempts to increase resilience in those they lead.