If you missed our webinar Resiliency Training for Non-Profit Teams on November 16, 2021, we’ve got your back—the recording is now live.
Non-profit organizations often have limited staff and need to work lean. Faced with scrutiny over administrative costs, staff need to do more with less. Budgetary pressures can pose significant challenges for employee retention, and those staff members who do remain often experience high levels of stress. According to a recent Qualtrics study, mental health issues have doubled in the last nine months in organizations.
With high rates of burnout and attrition at organizations, staff often find it hard to dig in and discover their own resiliency. Our founder, Leah Chang CEO and Lead Instructional Designer & Learning Strategist Leah Chang sat down with Debbie Pearmain, Senior HR Consultant and Coach, to host this 49-minute webinar on skill building for resiliency.
Here are the learning objectives we covered in the session:
What is resiliency?
The modern definition for resiliency is “Advancing despite adversity.” It’s the capacity to bounce back from tough situations and to become even stronger as a result. When people are resilient, they are able to stay positive and focus on what they need to do.
The dandelion is a great example of resiliency. Sure, most of us aren’t big fans of dandelions on our lawn, but you have to admit, they sure are tough. And they keep coming back!
What are signs of resiliency?
What does resiliency look like, sound like and feel like? Many phrases nicely sum up the concept of resiliency:
Not only are resilient people persistent and gritty; they also tend to be optimistic. They tend to smile. They appreciate everything that happens, even if it’s challenging, and especially if they can learn from it. They enjoy problem solving. If they feel stuck, they find a way to climb out of their rut. They don’t let themselves be defined by setbacks. And at the end of the day, they feel gratitude.
Another key characteristic of resilient people is empathy. When you have resiliency, you have compassion for yourself and others. Resilient people recognize other people’s efforts and appreciate them.
On the flipside, people who lack resiliency may struggle at work and in their personal lives. You may have observed signs in your employees such as:
The 6 domains of resiliency
Looking at your team, which domains do you think are strongest? Which could use improvement?
Why this matters, and the role of VUCA
Our world is a VUCA world! In other words, it’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
Change happens quickly and unpredictably. We need to be agile to stay aware of trends and issues, as well as complex cause-and-effect relationships and the confusion that results. And we have to get comfortable with ambiguity, whether it comes from misunderstandings, new information or fast-changing conditions.
Key skills for dealing with this VUCA world are:
How can non-profits support resiliency?
It starts with skill development. Organizations can invest in their employees’ resiliency by providing them support systems and giving them the tools to thrive. They can cultivate a healthy workplace culture, embrace a vision/values statement, develop policies that enhance wellbeing, and recognize employees both when they’re doing well and when they’re struggling.
For some organizations, training may be the answer. Learning consultants look at analytics and to determine how an organization can build capacity over time.
Instructional designers use a framework called Bloom’s Taxonomy to measure organizational learning. At the lowest level of the taxonomy, learning tasks are simple (e.g., remembering.) Going up the taxonomy, learning gets more complex and demanding. Learners understand, then apply what they’ve learned; from there they analyze, evaluate, and create solutions of their own.
Where does resiliency fit in the taxonomy? It’s at the highest level: extremely complex. This means it takes time to build; it’s not a one-time event. Learning professionals can support organizations with a program to build resiliency for individuals and the organization as a whole.
Keys to learning resiliency
A provincial organization rolled out resiliency training to 350 employees. It set up consistent language, job aids, operational events, and leader/team meetings. The roll-out was successful, but something was missing – coaching.
Coaching (peer-to-peer, external, between leaders) can be a key element in an organization’s journey toward resiliency.
Additional tips for building resiliency
Summary: Training for resiliency in non-profit teams
A key message for organizations is that it’s important to seek out experts who specialize in supporting non-profits. Leaders are often working flat-out, and it’s hard to do this off the side of a desk. Finding the right supports can make the difference between struggling to keep employees engaged and present – and having a resilient team.
What we learned from designing theinclusiveworkplace.ca
In recent years, it’s come to the forefront in instructional design requirements, and it’s not just a trend. Web accessibility and online learning are legislated—and we take this work very seriously.
From November 2020 to May 2021, Leah Chang Learning was hired by Inclusion Canada and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association (CASDA). We were tasked to produce a website and design learning materials for a new resource hub. The hub would support employees and businesses impacted by COVID-19. Five months later, the Inclusive Workplace went live!
TheInclusiveWorkplace.ca | lemilieudetravailinclusif.ca was made possible by a federal grant and the collaboration of Inclusion Canada and CASDA. The Leah Chang Learning team designed the materials for the knowledge hub: a suite of learning materials aimed at three audiences:
Our contributions to the project:
One key element of our project strengthened the design process and made the resources more effective for users overall. This was the ongoing involvement of self-advocates on the autism spectrum or with an intellectual disability. Not only did self-advocates participate in user experience interviews and provide feedback on the website build —they also provided real stories, participated in mock job interviews, and reviewed the learning content, interactivity and functionality, along with the look and feel of all our deliverables. Their feedback was indispensable! Thanks to their input, we were able to maximize accessibility and relevance. We were grateful for and humbled by their contributions.
Our biggest takeaways:
1. “Nothing about us without us.”
We didn’t do this project for people with disabilities; we did it with them, and it couldn’t have been otherwise.
2. Universal design helps everyone.
Every project should be viewed through a universal design lens. By designing barrier-free resources and materials, we ensure that the greatest possible number of people can understand, access and benefit from them, regardless of age or ability.
3. Plain language is best.
You can convey complex information and ideas without using complex phrases and jargon. Materials that are easy to read, understand and use are beneficial for everyone, regardless of their reading level. And most importantly, they’re inclusive.
If you haven’t checked out The Inclusive Workplace, be sure to visit and share the link! Pour nos ami(e)s francophones et francophiles : le site ainsi que les ressources éducatives sont entièrement disponibles en Français.
We’re proud of our team for rising to the challenge of this project, which was accomplished in a short time frame (5 months). We worked with multiple contributors in both French and English, across Canada. This project had a profound impact on how the Leah Chang Learning team works, and it raised the stakes for our approach to accessible learning design.
Our team continues to learn about designing accessible online learning. We’re currently drafting an accessibility strategy for our instructional design approach. This includes publishing an accessibility statement and asking our network to hold us accountable to our three year accessibility plan.
Instructional designers, learning leaders, and learning technologists: Stay tuned for exciting professional development opportunities to learn more about accessible learning design! We’ll be sharing our learnings with our peers and instructional design teams across North America soon.
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Or contact us if you have questions on instructional design.
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Leah Chang is a learning consultant with 17+ years of experience designing online and classroom learning. In her spare time she goes on self-propelled travel adventures and tries to grow vegetables.