Crisis-Immune Organizations Organizational Resilience in the COVID-19 Era

Michal Gilboa-Ater and Yotam Tron | CO-CEO'S in the Democratic Institute
האנשים של המכון הדמוקרטי
The COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Israel, and many citizens have begun their journey toward immunity! We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and perhaps an imminent return to normality. Thankfully, there are some positive trends, and COVID-19 may be gone very soon.
What is the link between the COVID-19 vaccines and organizational resilience?
Many managers and team leaders in the public, private, and civil sectors are asking themselves right now, “How can I influence my employees to become vaccinated without forcing them to do so?
As their manager or leader, can I – or should I – ask them to get the vaccine? Is this a legitimate request?”
In Israel and abroad, the COVID-19 vaccine has inspired great hopes and expectations because many people yearn to return to normal life. The vaccination rate is increasing every day. Many communities are encouraging the high-risk groups and the general population to get vaccinated in hopes that this will pave our way back to a plague-free life.
Whether managers should require their employees to get vaccinated is not a legal question but one steeped in social values. Could this request be justified?
On the one hand, the request may violate the employees’ civil rights.
But on the other hand, should employees be expected to feel solidarity with the organization? Do I care about my organization to the extent of wanting to get vaccinated to help it restore its pre-pandemic state?
המכון הדמוקרטי
The most crucial aspect in managing crises like COVID-19, which we addressed many times before and has been the focal point of many articles and studies, is the public’s trust.
The crisis severely damaged the public’s trust in politicians.
But did it hurt the public’s trust in organizations and various communities, too?

Surprisingly, organizational resilience is the solution to the managers’ problem.

What is organizational resilience?
Organizational resilience is a term used to measure an organization’s ability to recover quickly and effectively from unexpected crises. An organization’s resilience level is determined by its ability to foresee possible crises, predict the response of the employees, customers, and partners, and make quick and effective decisions about its future.
A study conducted by The Special Committee on Dealing with The Novel Coronavirus shows that public trust was damaged to a lesser extent in organizations that had forged organizational resilience before and during the COVID-19 crisis.
When employees identify with the organization’s motivations, organizational culture, goals, and long-term vision, they feel connected to the organization, which diminishes the gap and instills a sense of belonging. Thus, both parties can find creative solutions that internally motivate the employees to cherish, protect, and nurture the organization while maintaining a balance between individual liberty and the greater good.
How can one forge organizational resilience in the COVID-19 era?
Studies show that resilience develops in organizations and teams with specific attributes, such as a sense of psychological security, free individual expression, and the ability to offer constructive criticism comfortably. These attributes are manifested in three core principles:
A safe space
employees of the organization or municipality should feel that they have a designated space to express their opinions and individuality, even if they do not perfectly align with the organization’s decisions. Organizations can achieve this by ensuring that information is transparent and shared with the employees before it is shared with external parties. Employees must be able to express their thoughts and feelings and voice objections. An open and honest dialogue is key to a sense of connection and belonging.
פיתוח וחדשנות
A legitimate way to express oneself
An academic research conducted in 2015 found that a beneficial and effective way to forge organizational resilience is to cultivate personal relationships. The study found that one-on-one conversations with peers and dialogue throughout the entire chain of authority to be most efficient in achieving this. Structured and open dialogue in an organization or a community allows for a shared perception of complex situations and sows the seeds for possible creative solutions.
Local democracy
diminishing the gap and helping employees connect with the organization creates broader organizational resilience. Organizations can forge this resilience when employees develop a sense of belonging to a greater whole. One of the main and increasingly popular ways to achieve this state is through local democracy. The ability to speak one’s mind is nice to have, but it is not enough. Employees and citizens should feel like real partners in the decision-making process. Including them in this process diminishes the gap between the public and the organization, and as the gap becomes smaller, individuals gain more influence. This dynamic provides individuals with a vital mirror that conveys the impact of their actions.
How can we return to our pre-pandemic state as quickly as possible?
It is possible to help organizations, individuals, and teams to become crisis-immune and resilient through proper organization management, sufficient preparation, the ability to operate effectively while under crisis. This also requires public participation, establishing relationships through mirroring and dialogue, and utilizing cooperative decision-making processes.
חוסן ארגוני
We call upon organizations, authorities, and communities: seize the day! Invest resources and establish social infrastructures, a democratic culture, and local organizational democracy. Include your employees and citizens in the decision-making processes. Offer complete transparency, engage in dialogue, and create broad and effective organizational resilience.

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