5 Reasons Adversity Is Your Workforce’ Greatest Gift

Adversity is defined by Dictionary.com as “a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress.” While no one enjoys experiencing adverse circumstances, adversity can play a significant role in personal growth and development by aiding in the generation of critical skills and knowledge. In this way, adversity can prove to be one of the greatest gifts for your workforce and learning to embrace it can result in several benefits for both your personnel and your company.

overcoming-adversity-Zig Ziglar

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a conscious knowledge of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires. Facing misfortune and calamity creates opportunities for workers to reflect on how they feel more often than when things tend to be more stable and less chaotic There is something about adversity that generally causes your people to become more in tune with how they feel, what they want, and what might be the driving force behind their actions or responses to a given situation. There is also time to examine what previously taken actions or decisions may have contributed to the current negative outcome or situation.

It is this process of reflection during uncertain situations like Coronavirus and the resultant recession that makes the practice of reflection become more natural and habitual. Eventually, it is something that can be implemented not just during times of adversity, but even during times of stability. It is through the process of continual reflection and subsequent improvement and adjustment that growth can be achieved and work performance improved (Future of Work, 2017).

2. Patience

Adversity plays a critical role in building patience. Typically, when we face adversity in life and at work it is not quick and in a hurry. Thus, going through hardships that tend to be prolonged teaches your entire workforce from Management to temporary workers how to endure during hardships that may not be quick to cease. We learn how to gain self-control over our emotions and responses as we wait for the adversity to pass. This helps develop patience so that we can navigate hardships in the future (Hurd, 2019).

3. Resilience

Resilience speaks to how well we are able to recover from the challenges and hardships that we face in life. As it turns out, facing and overcoming adversity helps to build resilience. A study of approximately 2000 workers monitored mental health and general well-being for a period of several years. Participants were monitored via online surveys and were asked to list troubling events such as divorce, loss of job, or natural disasters that occur before the survey began. They also reported on adverse events that happened during the survey period.

The results of the study showed that those who had previously endured hardships were happier afterward. Psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine noted that individuals who experienced challenges were given the opportunity to learn how to overcome adversity, which allowed them to develop coping strategies, identify support networks, and build the confidence needed to persevere and continue to work at a high level (WebMD, 2011).

4. Relationships

During times of adversity, workers often realize they need the support and assistance of peers and associates in order to make it through those tough times. While adversity can certainly put a strain on many relationships, people often find that adversity creates a foundation for workplace relationships to be strengthened as well.

When things are not going well teams typically have to come together to pool ideas, resources, strength, etc. as a means of helping them overcome the obstacle. This process forces members of your team to communicate, be vulnerable, be transparent, and offer support for others on their team in a way that ultimately enhances the nature and strength of the overall relationship and establishes shared goals and more streamlined work processes (Future of Work, 2017).

5. Knowledge

Facing challenges and adversity provides the chance for an individual employee to gain information and skills. When faced with hardship we often have to problem-solve as a means of overcoming adversity.

This means doing the work of identifying the problem(s), consulting the resources, analyze possible solutions, and select and implement options. This process not only helps your staff to  learn to address the issue at hand, but it also helps with the development of skills that can be applied to future work situations such as problem-solving skills, analytical skills, research skills, and others (Hurd, 2019).

Adversity is a gift because it helps team members to challenge and extend themselves beyond the limits they normally set. It is through adversity that they are able to develop the self-awareness, patience, resilience, knowledge, and strong relationships needed to help to continue to successfully navigate ups and downs in their workplace.


4 reasons to embrace adversity. (2017, June 21). Future Of Work. https://fowmedia.com/4-reasons-embrace-adversity/

Emotional well-being: The benefits of adversity. (2011, December 27). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/emotional-wellbeing-benefits-of-adversity

Hurd, S., & A.A. (2019, March 9). Why facing adversity in life can be good for you and how to get through hardships. Learning Mind. https://www.learning-mind.com/facing-adversity-in-life/comment-page-1/


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