The XYZed has scoured the internet for the most popular questions asked by self-starters – and now we’re answering them. We spoke with Dr Tim Bednall, a senior lecturer in management at Swinburne University of Technology, to determine why resilient employees are desirable to small business owners, and how you can find and procure the people you need.
Once you’re growing, and have decided on the roles you need to fill first, you need to make sure you’re picking people best suited to the challenging small business environment. Dr Bednall believes that resilience is particularly important when a self-starter is taking their first steps to success.
“In the case of small business,” he says, “there is less specialisation of functions, so often people working in small businesses will find themselves working across a range of different tasks.”
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Setting up for success
So, what does it mean for a potential employee to be resilient? Bednall’s chosen definition is: “the demonstration of positive adaptation in the face of significant adversity”, but he adds that some definitions of resilience highlight positive growth or improvement as a result of adversity.
Dr Bednall sees resilience as multifaceted. “At the level of the individual,” he says, ”some people are simply more naturally resilient than others.”
“Resilience partly comes from a person’s mindset, and from that point of view, you can train resilience by helping people to think about their negative experiences differently,” he says.
“A person is more resilient if they have a strong network of friends, supporters and colleagues. An employee’s ability to be resilient is also affected by their job and their work environment,” he adds.
Dr Bednall says that people become stressed and burnt out if the demands of their work exceed their resources to perform in their role – some jobs are intrinsically stressful, but many jobs feature unnecessary sources of stress.
He believes that in these situations, organisations need to first evaluate if they are imposing unnecessary stress on its employees, and how these circumstances can be improved.
Knowing who to choose
Dr Bednall sees the most desirable employees for small business as people who are versatile and willing to take on a range of new responsibilities, and who are comfortable with the uncertainty of success.
When asked what makes potential employees resilient, he suggests four defining factors:
- Naturally inherent character
- The use of strategies for reducing stress
- Good relationships, and
- Being in a supportive environment.
“There are a range of ways that employers can screen for resilient employees,” says Bednall.
First and foremost, he says you need to ensure that a candidate has the necessary knowledge, skills and capabilities to perform their role. He also suggests gauging a potential employee’s resilience by asking behavioural interview questions about how they have coped with adversity in the past.
“Another thing employers can do is to give a realistic job preview to candidates about what the role would be like,” he adds. “While it’s not a screening mechanism per se, it can enable candidates to opt out if they feel a role is unsuited to them.”
When you’re selecting the right people to join your business, Bednall suggests a range of methods to ensure their resilience is maintained.
“It means providing them with sufficient training to perform their job effectively, setting clear expectations about their role and setting achievable targets,” he says.“It also means providing a cooperative and respectful team environment, dealing with disagreements constructively, and cultivating supportive relationships.”
Growing a resilient team
When you’ve begun to bring additional people onboard, it’s important to give them the right environment to grow their own resilience, and build resilience as a team.
“A ‘surface’ level change is to provide programs to enhance the ability of employees to respond to stress, such as an Employee Assistance Program,” says Bednall.
Some organisations also provide workshops on topics such as mindfulness and stress coping strategies. These sorts of solutions work well, but they do not address the circumstances that produce stress, he says.
“A ‘deep’ level change is to fix the organisational systems that give rise to stress throughout the employee lifecycle,” says Bednall.
On top of attracting and selecting employees that are well-suited to a role, it’s also necessary to provide them with sufficient training to perform their job effectively, setting clear expectations about their role, and setting achievable targets.
It means providing a cooperative and respectful team environment, dealing with disagreements constructively, and cultivating supportive relationships. It can also mean customising jobs to suit employees’ capabilities and circumstances.
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