The Top 10 Findings on Resilience and Engagement

From the ADP Research Institute, the 10 most intriguing discoveries from a global study of resilience and engagement.

Reading Time: 11 min 


The challenges of the past year have threatened people’s physical and psychological well-being, both personally and professionally. But if business leaders and their teams are able to better discern where they currently stand in terms of their own physical and mental health, they will be better able to determine which actions to take to survive and ultimately thrive through current and future challenges.

My colleagues and I at the ADP Research Institute recently finished conducting a global study of resilience and engagement, looking at levels of both across 25 countries in 2020. We surveyed a minimum of 1,000 people per country, for a total of over 26,000 participants. Our hope in conducting this research was twofold: first, to help leaders become more engaged and resilient in their own lives, despite the deeply unsettling events of the past year; and second, to identify ways that leaders can build engagement and resilience in their employees.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that we define engagement as the emotional state of mind that causes people to do their best work sustainably, and resilience as the capacity of an individual to withstand, bounce back from, and work through challenging circumstances or events. Our validated survey instrument enabled us to calculate which employees were fully engaged — highly committed and willing to give their all to their team and organization. Fully engaged employees are dedicated to an organization’s purpose, certain in their definition of excellence, confident in the support of their teammates, and excited by their organization’s future. In contrast, we designated those employees who were not fully engaged as “just coming to work.”

Similarly, through the 10 items that measure and predict resilience, we were able to identify highly resilient employees who demonstrated agency and the ability to compartmentalize, felt psychologically safe, and demonstrated trust in their leaders’ abilities to anticipate the future, communicate, and follow through on commitments.1 Those employees who were not highly resilient were designated as vulnerable. (See “The Relationship Between Engagement and Resilience” for more details on how engagement and resilience are correlated.)



1. You can see the eight engagement questions on p. 6 of ADP Research Institute’s “Global Workplace Study 2020.”

More Like This

Add a comment

You must to post a comment.

First time here? Sign up for a free account: Comment on articles and get access to many more articles.

Comments (5)
Things like engagement, resilience, trust, etc are inherently hard to measure.   While I tend to agree with the conclusions put forward, I was struck by the phrase, "Our validated survey instrument"  If the author's shared the specific of their validation process, I think the impact of this study could be much more valuable and more broadly accepted.
Thank you for this article. It is timely and on target. It speaks to an informal experiment I conducted over and over and over again in a business I ran during the pre-Simon-Sinek era: shareholder services call centers, contracting to Fortune 50 companies. 

Here is what I learned:

In teamwork, if you ask all team members to anonymously rank the level of trust they have for all other team members, again and again you find teams agreeing on who are the most trustworthy of both their peers and their superiors.   

Individuals ranked by teams as the most trustworthy are rarely those with the highest level of technical skill or the highest level of managerial authority. 

When it comes to "human skills," trust is everything. All other personal characteristics rank beneath it. Without a high level of trust, expression of empathy is seen as manipulation. 

In an attempt to turn the struggling business around, I used the high-trust indicator as a method of selecting leaders of 10-person teams, instead of the metrics drilled into me over previous decades: technical expertise and seniority.

The outcome? It works. 

Thank you for this article. It addresses a key issue in all team environments.
Jen Stevens
I am not sure if Engagement and Resilience are correlated. Engagement is environment dependent whereas Resilience is primarily a personality trait.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has published seminal works in this area.

As a leader though, the need is to focus on the 85% who are not fully engaged. Excluding (my guess) the 10-15% who are fully checked out,  attention needs to be given to the fat part of the bell curve to make sure there is no leftward flow.
This is one of the best articles I have read recently.  Among the many useful insights here, I like the definition of a fully engaged employee in para. 3.  That is an excellent standard.  The discussions on trust and teamwork are also very good.  And I believe that the relationship between resilience and the ability to compartmentalize is quite powerful.  Overall great discussion.
Stuart Roehrl
Narayan Kamath
I wonder how much of #10 "Resilience and engagement levels rise with your role" is becuase highly resilient and engaging people are the ones that usually rise to the top?