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Resilience & Grit | Stay Conversations | Inequity

October 29, 2021 Misti Aaronson

The Dark Side of Resilience & Grit

Employees don’t want pep talks about having more “resilience” or “grit”.

Yet, you see the words all over job descriptions and hear them during performance reviews.

  • Resilience can be an admirable attribute that helps people weather life’s inevitable challenges.
  • Grit is a construct that is said to summon both passion and perseverance in service of a long-term goal.

Our first Inevitable: The Future of Work podcast episode with Angela Duckworth is as relevant today as it was when published in 2019. Duckworth is a researcher on grit and explores the difference between talent and grit. If you want to assess your own grit level, take her test here.


What can be the dark side to resilience and grit?

According to mental health journalist Tanmoy Goswami, the issue is when employers tout resilience as the answer to employee complaints – without addressing the deeper issues of their discontent.

Resilience is a forced response to distress and could be more useful when considering whole communities.

"Resilience is useless as long as it is narrowly focused on individuals. What we need are resilient communities, not individual workers dragged through the latest pop psychology fad," Goswami concludes. “Instead, we should build collective resilience - which means listening to people’s distress so that we can hear the alarm signals and address the issues. Resilience is a revolution.”



Have "Stay Conversations"


52% of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving.

Over half of exiting employees say that in the three months before they left, neither their manager nor any other leader spoke with them about their job satisfaction or future with the organization.

Let that sink in.

No one took the time, so these employees decided to seek new opportunities elsewhere.

Is it possible to keep your team engaged and on your payroll by having intentional conversations with them? Tricky question – but the short answer is yes.

“Stay Conversations” can have a big impact.

What’s a stay conversation? They are one-on-one conversations designed to learn more about the employee, including their passions, career goals, what they value in life, and what they need to be more successful. Essentially you’re showing that you care about them, want them on the team, and will support them however they need.

Many leaders aren’t having these critical conversations because they are: stressed about time, not sure how to do it, and don’t feel as though they can accommodate what’s most important to the employee.

Check out these stay questions as a place to start.

Have you already asked these questions? Take your employee (or yourself!) on this journey – called the Area of Destiny – one of the most helpful tools we’ve used at SHIFT. It helps people find the perfect intersection of skills and passion.

Free Fillable Worksheet

Looking for something even bigger and bolder? Take a page out of Sara Blakely’s book! In celebration of selling the shapewear brand for a cool $1.2 billion, Blakely surprised each of her Spanx employees with an elite trip to their dream destinations and an extra $10,000 for splurging while on their excursions.

I Love You Mom & Dad


Most recessions hit working men the hardest. Not this one.

Between February and December 2020, roughly 1% of American fathers left the labor force.

For women without children, there was a 1.5% decrease.

The group hit the hardest in the pandemic? Working mothersmore than 4% of mothers left the workforce.

We all likely can point to why women are leaving, but what’s the impact?

  • The emotional toll: Research reports that there’s a gender gap, with 53% of women reporting a negative impact on their mental health compared to 37% of men. That gap is even wider in mothers versus fathers.
  • Effects of increasing inequity: As parental responsibilities increased when schools closed, the burden on women increased significantly more than on men. Mothers are burnt out because they aren’t getting any separation from home duties while being at work, and when they’re home, working is difficult or impossible.
  • Loss of critical talent: We’ve lost highly valuable people in the workforce – which results in less innovation, less stable work environments, and a huge setback for women economically.

For employers: Reimagine and recreate the structure of work – including mental health support, flexibility in scheduling and workspace, and modernized practical benefits – with no repercussions for moms taking advantage of these offerings.

For dads: While we understand every family has its own unique construct, it’s important for you to realize that home responsibilities should no longer be based on gender. For all you awesome dads out there, check out this can’t-miss newsletter.

One of our favorites from last week: Fathers form ‘Dads on Duty’ group to help stop violence in Louisiana schools.

For working mothers: Communicate what you need and offer your talents to those employers that are willing to meet those needs. Create a tribe of others that understand your lived experience and find places of support! One of our favorite (and new!) podcasts is called the Working Mom Hour – hosted by some of our favorite people of all time. We promise you’ll take away more than you invest.



Missed our recent webinar on how to engage and retain top talent? Have no fear! Explore this recap blog post to get all the practical advice you need.

Key Takeaways

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TOPICS: Workplace Innovation, leadership, stories that shift