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Resilience Conference 2014

October 24, 2014

Media Statement


New research revealing low levels of resilience amongst many Australian organisations and predictions of more turbulent economic times ahead have sparked warnings that companies need to urgently boost their ability to survive and adapt.

South Australian organisational psychologist Kathryn McEwen, The Resilience Institute (Australia) managing director
 Stuart Taylor and New South Wales-based workplace mental health consultant Graeme Cowan – who will next month all be in Perth to present to the Institute of Management Consultants
2014 National Conference on Resilience – said public, private and non-profit organisations needed to re-think resilience.

Environments will continue to become more turbulent and demanding of employees and sustaining optimal performance will remain a challenge,” said Ms McEwen who recently returned from the UK where she addressed The Association for Business Psychology’s annual conference.

“Building resilience in your staff and your organisation is about much more than just being better able to manage stress and change – it’s 
a mechanism for future sustainability and there are many proactive strategies that can be employed to better position for coming challenges rather than waiting for them to happen.”  


Mr Taylor said recent research of more than 250 organisations, including 16,000 employees, conducted by The Resilience Institute, which was just now being made public, showed some organisations had developed strong resilience in dealing with emergencies, crises or setbacks.   


“But the concept of resilience goes well beyond ‘bounce back’ to ongoing innovation, to meet and creating new and relevant stakeholder needs, as well as sustainable high performance,” he said.


“According to this broader definition, our research reveals many large Australian organisations across a broad range of sectors show very low levels of resilience.


“The key message for companies is that resilience should be a need not a want because it gives you a competitive advantage and in times of volatility, that is clearly crucial.”

Mr Cowan said it was critical organisations acknowledged that building resilience wasn’t just about simply training staff.

“Leadership is critical in resilience,” he said.

“A recent Harvard research study of 19,000 employees worldwide found only one in four survey respondents believed their leaders model sustainable work practices but those leaders’ employees were 55 percent more engaged, 72 percent higher in health well being, 77 percent more satisfied at work, 1.15 times more likely to stay at the company and had more than twice the level of trust in their leaders.”

Ms McEwen and Mr Taylor agreed many organisations don’t yet fully understand the need to change their expectation of the way their staff work.

“Most workplaces still believe that for an employee to be a high performer they need to work at 100 percent intensity all of the time but that just breed burnout and disengagement and may promote mental health issues and staff turnover,” he said.

“Sustainable high performance happens by aiming for 80 percent intensity and resilient organisations build strong rejuvenation practices into the work culture.”

According to Ms McEwen, employees and teams were usually able to 'rise to the occasion' when needed but performing at high levels over extended periods came at a cost to wellbeing, retention and turnover.  


“Recovery time, as with athletes, is necessary but generally not considered,” she explained.


“Embedding work practices that promote resilience is critical, especially when the demands and workloads being placed on employees are rising.”


Mr Cowan said: “It is heartening to see the Institute of Management Consultants is hosting a first-of-its-kind conference where the focus is entirely on employee and organisational resilience because building it is one of the key capabilities for any workplace.”

The Conference is on November 13 & 14.

Please visit http://imcconference.com.au/ for details.



Natalie Caudle natalie@capturemedia.com.au, 0407 984 435