5 Starting Points for a Resilient Organizational Culture

History teaches us that crisis situations occur far more frequently than we anticipate. Business goals should not be “live to see another day”, but actually to resist and thrive during turbulent times. In the 21st century digitalization significantly enhances our ability to adapt to rapid and uncertain changes. Let’s examine this and see exactly how organizations can build a resilient culture with the help of digital transformation.

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Building a Resilient Organizational Culture

Defining the resilient organization

Resilience is not only a human personality trait. Groups, communities, organizations can also learn and develop a culture of resilience to ensure business success and continuity. So, what exactly is a resilient organization?

Most sources of information base their definition on the business capacity to anticipate, plan and respond to difficulties when they occur. If we look at the definition provided by Gartner in its latest report “2020 Strategic Road Map for Business Continuity Management” we see how resilient organizations are identified as flexible and sustainable to transformation:

Resilient organizations are those that rebound and prosper after business disruption, because they’re resistant to the impacts of disruption (through good risk management), as well as adaptive, elastic and sustainable in the face of disruption. Response, recovery, and contingency are the basis or resilience.

Gartner, “2020 Strategic Road Map for Business Continuity Management

Characteristics and importance of resilient culture

Today we work in increasingly turbulent and fast-changing markets. To succeed in this volatile and complex environment, organizations need to be more adaptive and agile, especially during crisis situations. One of the major setbacks for organizations that fail to do so is the increased level of stress within the workforce. It can lead to reduced employee performance, productivity, morale, and strain workplace relationships.

Furthermore, building organizational resilience is important because it demonstrates the ability to sustain competitive advantage over time. This is achieved by simultaneously driving excellent performance and effective innovation. By doing this, organizations will also show the adaptability of their business goals to turbulent changes in the market.

As we mentioned above the foundation of a resilient organization is its ability to respond, recover, and prepare a contingency plan in case of disruptions. Diving deeper, we can identify their main characteristics, which are also an excellent guideline for creating a business sustainability and continuity plan.

A resilient organization is able to:

  • Create and adapt structures – It has a precise, timely, and rebound decision-making process that allows the organization to operate with dispersed, but at the same time independent, physical and digital operation systems when confronting challenges.
  • Provide safety – Resilience helps organizations to manage and mitigate risks on a continuous basis in the midst of a change.
  • Manage the emotional effects – Undergoing continuous transformation and change is a perfect vector for high anxiety and stress levels in the workforce. By embedding resilience in the culture and demonstrating commitment to management at leadership level, organizations can ensure the health and stability of their employees.
  • Foster a diverse and empowered workforce – Once more, thanks to a strong leadership and resilient culture, organizations have the power to establish a well-connected, collaborative and creative workforce that works together to develop competitiveness and prosperity.
  • Learn, develop, and grow – A resilient organisation invests in both physical and digital infrastructures in order to make them more adaptive, elastic, and flexible in the long-run.



Building a resilient organization

We’ve seen what characterizes the resilient organization, but you might still be wondering: how can we build such a culture? Over the last couple of decades a great deal of research has taken place looking at complex adaptive and learning systems and how they can successfully accommodate changing environments.

In a research paper written by Dean Robb on “Building Resilient Organizations” he shares that the resilient organizations actively and consciously create performance and adaptation systems by linking them together on the foundation of company architecture, skills, and culture.

Building a resilient organization is a long change process. We want to give you a couple of ideas on how you can leverage your digital workplace to build a resilient organizational culture:


1. Effective leadership

One of the most important factors driving organizational culture is strong leadership. Resilient cultures begin with engaged leaders that understand and support employees. A lack of senior leadership support creates risks of a disengaged workforce and therefore weak company culture.

A way to create a stronger connection between leaders and employees is to provide harmonious top-down and horizontal communication. You can accomplish this through your digital workplace, for example by creating a dedicated Leadership corner (page, group, community, etc) within your intranet.

This place can be leveraged to share corporate information and at the same time, employees can directly interact with their managers. This will create a strong link between employees and leaders, no matter if they work in the same office or they are in a different time zone. Leaders of resilient cultures should take personal responsibility for engaging effectively their employees and during transitional periods, they need to make the difficult decisions to protect teams.


2. Transparency and communication

After obtaining the support from leaders, your organization should make sure that it promotes transparency and of course apply it to all internal communications. Resilient cultures understand that communication is a powerful tool to drive behavior in the organization and it creates open conversations around ethics and values.

Along with the leaders, any other stakeholders can take this approach and promote responsibility through open communication. Probably one of the most effective tools for transparent internal communication is the corporate intranet platform. It serves as a single point of truth, and all employees can rely and trust the information coming from it, especially during difficult and uncertain times.


Importance of Resilient Culture


3. Safe and secure work communities

The workplace can be a stressful and overwhelming place, especially when undergoing changes or disturbances. Employees are taught to separate work from personal lives, and to check their feelings at the door. However, taking a closer look at remote workers for instance, the thin line between family and work grows even thinner. Instead of encouraging employees to keep to themselves, build a more social and safe work environment.

Employees connect and collaborate within professional communities constantly, so why not give them a dedicated place to share their interests and create social connections with colleagues. There are various digital tools that can help HR and talent teams improve employee collaboration. You just have to choose the one that corresponds to your employee’s needs and can make them feel better in the workplace.


4. Innovation in knowledge management

Resilience is driven by performance and adoption. But how do we reach high-performance rates when we fail to adapt to innovations? Knowledge management is a very important pillar when building resilience, but organizations often fail to successfully integrate innovations. Results are difficult to measure, and organizations prefer to concentrate their efforts towards more tangible elements. But when the time for change comes, a crack in the foundations can block the whole transformation process.

Technology advancement provides numerous opportunities for designing agile and open knowledge management systems. Using cloud technologies, knowledge sharing is easier and reaches a wider employee base, and at the same time they can safely store knowledge for many generations to come. Consider investing in innovation that can facilitate change processes and prepare your business for turbulent times.


5. Complexity and accountability

A typical challenge that tests organizations’ resilience almost every day is globalization, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Today many businesses operate across multiple time zones, geographies, and departments. To run effectively at this level of organizational complexity, it is necessary to increase cooperation and information sharing, while establishing shared responsibilities across the whole team.

Equip your company with digital collaborative suites and tools that are built to assist international businesses looking to centralize efforts. Resilient cultures understand the benefits of shared responsibility and empowered teams. This can prepare employees for crisis situations by establishing a clear understanding and a strong sense of accountability.


To build a resilient culture takes time, but the rewards for any company are extensive. Results may not come as swiftly as the next challenge, but you should not forget that the most important thing is to learn how to adapt to any situation. And only then you can truly become a resilient and sustainable organization.


Asya Stamenova
Brand Content Writer


Business Continuity/Development Corporate Culture

Published on

May 15, 2020