1.2 Catastrophic events
In early 2020, the World Health Organisation classed the COVID-19 outbreak as a disaster, one of the few catastrophic events in recent history to have affected the entire global population.
Although the issues surrounding COVID-19 may have significantly improved by the time you are completing this course, there may be other unexpected, catastrophic events that have a similar influence on our work lives, ranging from natural disasters to terrorist attacks and other infectious disease outbreaks. Resilient people, with a positive approach and a range of coping mechanisms are likely to do better in these circumstances than those without.
Kuntz (2020) collected data from 61 workers in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic, and identified the following common stressors:
- role stressors, including increased workload, job complexity and added time pressure
- perceived lack of managerial support and infrequent or ambiguous communication
- technology, e.g. needing to quickly learn new software with limited support
- feeling unsafe at work – relating to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and poor social distancing
- job insecurity
- teamwork issues, including poor team coordination and strained interactions
- customer incivility, such as being shouted at, insulted or ignored
- work-life conflict, particularly for those working from home.
From the perspective of an employer wanting to maximise the resilience of their staff, Kuntz (2020) also summarises the following as the most frequently cited resilience-promoting resources:
- teamwork quality
- a learning culture
- participation in decision-making
- role clarity
- ongoing feedback
- clear organisational communications
- peer and leadership support
- developmental opportunities.
Even if you are not the manager of a team, there will be points in this list that you could raise with your manager or investigate further in order to enhance your own resilience.
Regarding your own career resilience, whether you see a particular stressor as an ‘overwhelming threat, manageable challenge, or opportunity – offers a strong indication of individual resilience’ (Kuntz, 2020).
Depending on your country’s political system, government decisions can also have an unanticipated impact on your career resilience. You’ll explore that in more detail in the next section.