The Concept of Resilience in Business


The broader business environment bears several risks and threats associated with losses. To survive these threats and mitigate losses from diverse risks, organizations have to develop resilience to ensure that they remain operational during hard times. Due to this, an adaptable business culture has become a conceptual core for many organizations today. There is a growing urge for institutions to foster a perseverant attitude in their workforce through training and safeguarding their well-being. Several businesses are investing much time and resources in attaining resilience since evidence reveals its correlation with improved performances.

Using a qualitative approach, this research explores existing literature on resilient business cultures to provide an informed perspective on this topic. In the first part, the paper introduces the concept of business resilience; it underscores the current organizational dynamics. In the literature review section, the research explores previous studies related to this topic, highlighting some of the methods adopted by prominent companies to reinforce this concept and a conclusion.

Resilience in Business

Survival, although primarily undermined, has always remained a significant concern for businesses. Organizations yearn to progress into the foreseeable future to recoup their investments and realize profits from long-term returns on investments. Among those critical factors influencing companies, survival underscores their ability to build a resilient attitude in their workers and retain a skilled and experienced workforce, which often largely depends on employee satisfaction. According to a survey by White (2013), only 35% of the workers believed they were fully involved in various company procedures, meaning that the other percentage recorded poor engagement levels, which consequently undermined productivity, creativity, and innovation.

The findings also pointed out that 38% of the sample workforce felt anxious and stressed regarding their future (White, 2013). Under 50% believed that the employer was sincerely concerned with their welfare (White, 2013). The report marked one of those negative business resilience indicators, especially in contemporary society, where uncertainty dominates businesses.

Significant pieces of evidence underscore a positive correlation between employee stress and increased workload levels, yielding adverse impacts on workers’ overall health. Yet, a worker’s wellness is valuable both at the individual and organizational level since wider perspectives point to a multi-level relationship between workers’ welfare, innovation, and employees’ resilience (Athota & Malik, 2019). As a result, the need to establish business resilience through employees’ well-being continually marks organizational spheres.

According to Athota and Malik (2019), resilient employees have the capacity to persevere and quickly recuperate from adverse situations, a trait that is crucial for business survival by ensuring continued operations. Resilience widely implies a worker’s ability to persevere through difficult moments in the organization and forge a positive attitude in such situations to ensure restoration of the earlier state (Sawalha et al., 2015). It is an indicator of the capability to take advantage of difficult situations and become better.

Problem Statement and Research Objective

Today’s business landscape is dynamic, marked by rapidly changing technology, volatile markets, increased consumer information, and greatly enhanced labor market mobility due to globalization. Currently, VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – dominates the business sphere (Holbeche, 2015). Business’s rapid dynamism is compelling organizations to retrospectively respond to survive competitive threats, mitigate risks, and realize substantial margins from competitive advantages. Efforts to attain the mentioned items have seen businesses continuously reconstruct their strategic models and reengineer their processes with agility to stay above the curve and diminish losses inherent with the market uncertainties.

The dire need for business survival today has underpinned organizational processes, highlighting workforce resilience as a critical tool for corporate survival. With regard to this, the objective of this research is two-fold. First, the study aims to present the significance of building a resilient culture in businesses by exploring previous literature evidence of successes realized from organizational resilience. Through this objective, the research will determine the urgency of companies in attaining resilience. Second, the survey aims to assess possible frameworks that have successfully guided companies’ realization of this concept and highlight the best alternatives that organizations looking to achieve resilience could pursue.

Research Questions

To achieve its first objective, the research will be guided by the following question that focuses on the paper inquiry:

  • Why are some businesses investing significant energy, time, and more money into building a resilient culture?

To meet its second objective, the research will be pinned around the following fundamentally guiding questions:

  • Why should an organization consider not to remove employees who are not as stressed, not as engaged or productive, and hire new ones?
  • How would an organization go about building resilience in its people and teams?
  • What attributes should a business look for, which relates to resilience in their personnel?

Significance of the Study

This study will instrumentally contribute to this topic in two dimensions. First, by exploring empirical evidence on the effectiveness of business resilience, it will add to the tones of evidence on this item, which is critical to business owners and management in attaining organizational sustainability. Second, by exploring literature evidence on business resilience, this research will offer a condensed new perspective on the topic by sifting the various alternatives pursued by organizations as presented in earlier literature and highlighting the best models. Overall, a study on business resilience is vital, especially today, when businesses are facing uncertainties.


To effectively attain the study’s objective and contribute to this topic significantly, the qualitative research method was employed. Previous studies conducted on this topic – business resilience – will be explored to construct a new, detailed, and reliable perspective on the subject. In-depth research for articles published on resilience in the workplace was carried out on the following databases: EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, Science Direct, and Web of Science. This search was performed on 22nd October 2020.

The search terms in all the databases mentioned above include resilience, organizational resilience, and resilient organizations or companies. No constraints were applied in regard to the type of article. The inclusion criteria included surveys published in English, research published between 2013 and 2020, and the evaluation of resilience was the main objective. The exclusion criteria included studies that did not provide an in-depth analysis of the concept, research not published between 2013 and 2020, and studies that evaluated the conceptualization as their secondary goal.

Review of Literature

Overview of a Resilient Culture

While it is crucial to distinguish and promote factors that encourage personal resilience, organizational development and public health perspectives underscore the significance of promoting resilience within the company and community as a whole. A resilient culture is one typified by an atmosphere or climate that promotes employee development, perceives crisis as an opportunity, and has high support levels. It refers to a workplace environment that does not only foster resilience and resistance, but also identifies these aspects as the core fabric of its culture. Often, resilience is difficult to see since it is not solid but subjective.

It is an intrinsic attribute of a company’s structure, nurtured and developed by establishing an influential organizational culture (Annarelli et al., 2020). According to Athota and Malik (2019), the primary indicators of resilience in a company are the workforce’s well-being and that resilient culture is characterized by certain critically indicative elements deemed significant in predicting its levels in the organization.

To measure the organizational health and resilience, the management or auditor needs to begin the procedure by evaluating the workforce’s attitude and engagement by assessing factors such as optimism, communication, commitment, and risk-taking nature of the organizational workforce. The outcomes of the aforementioned measures will help leaders ascertain the levels of resilience in the workplace.

A resilient organization is usually marked with persons informed of the corporate environment, anticipative of both external and internal dynamism and challenges, and prepared to respond to such issues with strategic innovativeness. On the contrary, a non-resilient business is usually marked with persons worried about future uncertainties and employees who are mentally withdrawn from the organization. These characteristics are typical because the workforce does not feel instrumental to the company or perceives that the organization is not concerned with their well-being.

Resilience Fosters Engagement and Retention

Investment in worker’s wellness and health at the workplace is instrumental in achieving business resilience. The work environment should support employee demands to instill a positive attitude and decrease aspects such as stress that may hinder worker involvement and performance. Therefore, at the center of establishing business resilience is the need to train employees on the approaches necessary in achieving individual and organizational goals. Consequently, it implies that this concept is attained through a continuous training model as opposed to an object that workers inherently possess. Thus, organizations foremost have to establish a framework to develop resilience in their workforce, which entails training and engaging employees to feel part of the institution.

The Human Resource has an instrumental function in enhancing the attainment of resilient business culture within the workforce. Establishing models to achieve resilience among employees does not entirely rest on having the right person in the right place, but it encapsulates methods to ensure people are at the right location and feel involved while executing their duties (Holbeche, 2015). To realize that, HR has the role of making sure that the available workforce understands the business culture instead of prioritizing an outside force’s solicitation.

Therefore, it implies that the organization trains its workforce to adopt a resilient attitude; hence at the center of resilience is retention. The latter remains a core item in realizing stability in organizations because of one main factor: finding a skilled workforce remains one of the biggest challenges for businesses today. A 2014 KMPG worldwide survey of chief executives revealed that the difficulty in finding skilled workers remained the second biggest challenge for business leaders (“Why the smartest businesses are investing,” 2020). Moreover, resilience is achievable over time and responsive to people’s experiences (Crane, 2017). It is a malleable process and not an entirely hereditary trait; thus, it can be learned in due course. Due to that, a resilient business culture should be retained since the available employees can learn such values with time.

Resilience Drives Performance

Resilience at the workplace is critical in establishing a positive work environment that constructs the base for individual and institutional performance (Lamb & Cogan, 2016). Innovation is a crucial ingredient in organizational growth and business performance, and the realization of it must focus on the individual worker level since personal factors such as attitude and leadership are influential in creativity (Athota & Malik, 2019). Perseverant employees are associated with improved productivity, innovation, lower turnover, and reduced healthcare costs (“Why the smartest businesses are investing,” 2020).

They are more engaged, exhibit improved communication, and are better teams’ person. Findings also revealed that workers with resilient attitudes are less likely to be affected by distressful business situations, are prone to remain engaged with their work, and more likely to implement actionable plans to counter these organizational challenges (Tangenes & Steen, 2017). They are also prone to support dynamism at work and refocus their efforts at the workplace.

Traditionally businesses that failed to build a resilient attitude in their workforce diminished, while those that incorporated change like Apple, Google, and Microsoft emerged as substantially innovative organizations (Athota & Malik, 2019). The central item in the mentioned companies’ creative success has been pinned mainly on their ability to create a positive and motivational work environment. As Shatte et al. (2017) opine, adaptability plays a central role in forging new strategies and tackling threats from within and outside the organization. Since perseverance constructs a healthy attitude that is anticipative in handling uncertainties and adverse dynamism in life, resilient persons are likely to recover faster from difficult life experiences than their counterparts.

Since organizational challenges create a disturbing environment, employees with poor attitudes and resilience are likely to be overwhelmed in such circumstances. As a result, they may be less engaged, more stressed, and less productive and creative and this consequently undermines productivity (Athota & Malik, 2019). On the contrary, resilient employees typically remain calm amidst adversity, manage personal and others’ emotions, stay engaged, and adopt adaptability measures during hard times. Through innovative responses and implementation of new strategic measures, resilient workers guarantee productivity and drive performance. According to Shatte et al. (2017), resilience plays a crucial role in minimizing aspects such as depression, absenteeism, low productivity by between ten and twenty percent. On the other hand, lack of resilience is primarily associated with adverse psychological outcomes and low productivity in both high- and low-strain employment surroundings.

Building a Resilient Culture

The development of a resilient attitude in organizations, arguably, involves a multiplicity of factors. To foster adaptability, companies require adequate resources which will consequently facilitate the availability of finances and positive relationships (Sawalha et al., 2015). Businesses also need to establish dimensions that will enhance their capacities to access and address the employees’ demands; it can be achieved through training and career advancement programs. In constructing a resilient business culture, the HR together with the talent management team must focus beyond stress management and counseling. Furthermore, employers need to develop and implement a business culture that encourages trust, accountability, and flexibility.

A resilient business culture underscores the importance of educating each employee on the significance of taking care of their mental, physical, and emotional health. According to a study by Huang et al. (2016), addressing the aforementioned needs is crucial in improving business performance; it typically plays a critical role in increasing productivity, retention, and engagement. The survey also concluded that a positive correlation exists between the following aspects: reinforcing a culture that aims to promote workers’ overall health and the attainment of positive corporate outcomes.

Effective leadership is also a crucial factor that has significant impacts on an organization’s culture. Resilient cultures typically begin with engaged managers or leaders who comprehend and support their employees. The lack of support from senior leaders often exposes a company to considerable risks, particularly workforce disengagement, which leads to a weak culture (“Why the smartest businesses,” 2020). The provision of harmonious horizontal and top-down communication channels serves an approach for creating a more robust connection or relationship between workers and their respective heads.

Resilient leadership activities act as a motivating catalyst that inspires others to demonstrate adaptability, adaptability, and the need to exceed their goals or expectations. It helps a company develop a resilience culture whereby adversity is perceived as an opportunity and support are continually present. According to Suryaningtyas et al. (2019), resilient managers can set the “tipping point” that modifies an entire firm’s culture. Resilient leaders should meet the following criteria: be committed to promoting other people’s success through collaboration, be information or data conduits – typically frontline administrators, and have credibility.

Transformational leadership is an example of a management style that can foster resilience in an organization. It triggers positive changes in followers, and through the magnitude of their personality and vision, the company heads can inspire employees to adjust their motivations, perceptions, and expectations to attain common objectives (Tangenes & Steen, 2017). The aforementioned administrative approach has four major components: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation. The latter underscores the conception that without innovation and creativity, it is impossible to achieve long-term success. Under this concept, a resilient director can encourage workers to explore new methods of executing different workplace tasks and unique learning opportunities.

Personal consideration incorporates providing encouragement and support to the workforce. Leaders are required to keep communication lines open to allow team members to share ideas overtly and recognize every employee directly as an approach aimed to encourage supportive relationships (Holbeche, 2015). Examples of individual consideration include advising, mentoring, and coaching; these strategies demand a fundamental understanding of workers’ motivations and needs. Inspirational motivation underscores the need for leaders to develop a clear vision and articulate it to its employees. Success under this element demands a significant level of charisma to transform influence or impact into action.

A resilient manager can create a teamwork atmosphere that encourages workers to engage actively in their specified duties to attain the overall vision of the company (Sawalha, 2015). This feature enables the workforce to implement real action to translate the vision into an actuality.

On the other hand, idealized influence, commonly referred to as ‘walking the talk,” emphasizes the need to be a good role model. Because followers respect and trust their supervisors, they tend to emulate them, internalize their ideas, and make it their own. Promoting a secure and safe working environment also represents a significant element that should be considered during the development of a resilient organization (White, 2013). Companies should also encourage transparency in all its operations, including communication.


The world is marked with several uncertainties, complexities, and volatility, especially in the business sphere. Such factors usually bear risks and pose threats to organizations’ survival. To remain operational, businesses need to endure difficult times and thrive. The development of an untethered business culture involves building workforce resilience. This approach depends mostly on the company’s leadership and safeguarding their well-being; it is also associated with improved employee and organizational performances. Therefore, the management must assess their firm’s resilience levels using critical indicators such as workers’ wellness to enhance their capacity to survive difficult moments. Resilience allows workers to adapt to new business situations, remain engaged at work, and create new strategies through innovation.


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