ROI of resilience – How to Get Senior Management Buy-in

Your essential guide to how helping people build resilience impacts the bottom line, bringing benefits both at a financial and human level.

Resilience is a source of business advantage and individual wellbeing, so it is crucial to understand how HR professionals can create genuine senior management buy-in to any intervention. Success lies in demonstrating a clear link to the overall business strategy, the value at an individual and organisational level and why you chose your approach and any partnerships.

This guide will help you by breaking everything you need into three steps and providing resources to evidence your recommendations. It is designed for HR professionals researching resilience providers or making a solid case to senior management considering investing in resilience training. Think of it as a checklist for success:

Why is leadership support important for resilience ?

Without the active support of key decision-makers, the task of building a genuinely resilient workplace is nearly impossible.

Successful resilience strategies start with the C-Suite championing resilient behaviour and skills across the entire company. As custodians of wellbeing, productivity and performance, they need to know how investing in robust resilience programmes adds value. They need clarity on how investing in resilience training can and does impact the bottom line. In short, the need to understand the ROI of resilience and how it relates to your business, rather than general facts and figures.

Step 1. How to link resilience to revenue and broader performance

Leading by example: changing the narrative

Some business leaders view resilience as a deficit, only required when people need to bounce back. They confuse resilience with mental toughness and the ability to keep pushing through adversity.

Instead, reverse their perspective to view resilience as an asset. Define resilience as the ability to adapt to change positively. In a work setting, this translates into your people having ‘the capacity to thrive, rather than just survive.’ Or at a very human level, how we think, feel and behave when facing obstacles and opportunities. Challenge your senior team to think about how change can be positive as well as negative. A sudden surge in new customers requires people to respond and adapt. It requires resilience.

Research shows that individual resilience is linked to the capacity to be proactive and creative at work, performance and engagement with their work and employer. It is not just about wellbeing and the ability to deal with stress.

Developing resilience will add value, productivity and fresh perspectives to their team and support their business goals.

Link investing in resilience training to other L&D initiatives

Any proposal to invest in resilience training is less likely to succeed if viewed as a stand-alone activity, so it’s worth exploring how it integrates and aligns with other L&D initiatives. Any programme provider should be able to highlight the direct integration into broader organisational interventions around talent, change, culture, leadership development and business continuity.

Demonstrate the link between resilience and business growth

Organisations investing in resilience training are seeking ways to create a more agile and employee-centric organisation. They realise that focusing on the human factors of thinking, feeling and relationships provide people with broader resources and tools to engage with their work and expand their skill set. It’s a philosophy that believes that when people have the skills and habits to perform and grow, the whole organisation benefits. It’s a philosophy that is backed up by research and evidence:

Various studies have demonstrated a direct link between training and performance. For example:

Research conducted by Bersin & Associates demonstrated that companies with a strong learning culture are 37% more productive than their peers that don’t value learning.

And this research issued by the CIPD reveals that high-performing learning organisations, on average, are seeing a 24% increase in productivity and performance as a result of learning done well.

This case study from our work with an international bank shows a 5% increase in engagement alongside a 7% increase in productivity. The Chief Operating Officer summed up the impact as:

” Putting our teams through the programme has been transformative and resulted in improved engagement levels across our business. We have seen a marked increase in employees telling us that they feel more able to deal with everyday stresses, both in the workplace & in their personal lives, as well as a rise in productivity & collaboration.”

– Chief Operating Officer

The project also achieved The External Learning Solution of the Year Award in The Learning & Performance Institute’s 2020 Learning Awards for both “business impact and “value for money”. According to the Learning & Performance Institute, the award is” the highest accolade you can receive in workplace learning and development.”

Learning Solution of the Year Award

Case studies

Discover more case studies of how we've helped organisations build performance, wellbeing and growth.

And this case study from our work with local government highlights over achievement in targets, a £500k financial saving in year one and a public sector award for transformation.

“Challenging targets were overachieved by 10% and we saw improvements in engagement levels, talent retention, employee satisfaction and wellbeing. This equates to a financial saving of over £500k per annum in tangible terms and we moved from the worst-performing Borough in London to second-best, achieving Beacon Status.” 

– Director of Business

These are the benefits we would highlight as central to any training programmes. Effective training not only improves profitability but should also bring a new factor into the workplace – something that was missing or untapped potential. For example, that could be increased agility or the ability to recover from setbacks without losing productivity, lowering churn, or increasing engagement. The bottom line is that senior management need to see and understand why investing in resilience training makes sense.  Allocating resources, possibly at a time of change and high workloads has to have a clear benefit and add more value than risk.

Step 2 - How to link resilience to increased efficiency

So far, we’ve examined the benefits of resilience training in terms of increased growth, but the equation for the ROI of resilience is not one-sided. It includes two inputs:

ROI of resilience = growth – expenses

Whilst resilience training is capable of having profound effects on growth, it can also reduce expenses. The most obvious and typical example of this is employee turnover.

Employee turnover is expensive for several reasons:

  • When someone leaves, so do the tacit knowledge they’ve built while working with you.
  • Client relationships and potential revenue streams get disrupted and slowed.
  • Internal projects get interrupted and delayed.
  • Their productivity and impact must be covered until a replacement is in the role.
  • The opportunity cost of organisational hours spent in advertising for, interviewing, onboarding and training their replacement.
  • You must wait for a replacement to earn enough experience to match the lost employee’s productivity.

Put into perspective just how expensive employee turnover is:

Some studies suggest that for employees under $25k, the cost to replace is 20% of salary. In the same survey for employees over £75k, that percentage can rise to a staggering 213%.

Other studies show that when employees believe they are invested in through training, they are 70% more likely to be loyal to their existing organisation. This data is particularly pertinent for Millenials, many of whom are now moving into more senior positions.

Gallup also tells us that 87% of Millenials say development opportunities are “very important” to them in their roles. Training opportunities are something employees actively seek.

Our clients generally agree that the cost of replacing sits between 50% and 100% of salary and benefits. Most interesting is the hidden attrition risk that we discover in our resilience training. On average we find that 12% of people agree that the programme stopped them from leaving the organisation when they were considering it.

This case study shows how we achieved a 35% year on year reduction in voluntary attrition in a group of one hundred leaders.

Explain the hefty costs of not taking presenteeism seriously

Presenteeism (lost productivity when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace) and leavism (working during holidays or time off) can damage individuals and organisational health. They can also be a sign of a toxic environment. Both behaviours can quickly leave people feeling fatigued, struggling with morale and impairing cognitive functioning.

When an employee shows up for work despite being injured, stressed, or ill, presenteeism can cost the employer in a few different ways:

  1. There is a productivity gap between employees struggling mentally, emotionally, socially and a healthy and happy one.
  2. A struggling and stressed employee is more prone to make mistakes and lose focus.
  3. There is also the possibility of an employee prolonging their illness or condition by attempting to work through it rather than resting or addressing it.
  4. A physically sick employee can spread it to other workers resulting in more presenteeism and absenteeism.


Simply put, presenteeism costs employers money. The UK government’s Thriving at Work report estimated that presenteeism costs employers in the UK between £17bn and £26bn every year. Organisations miss out on boosting their productivity by failing to prioritise their employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing.

The three key takeouts for senior leader buy-in to the ROI of resilience

  1. Resilience training is a transformative driver of growth and a people-focused way to reduce expenses.
  2. Developing resilience is an asset. From upskilling employees to helping them drive productivity and wellbeing to build an attractive and engaging culture, resilience training is a catalyst for change for many organisations.
  3. An experienced provider of resilience training will be able to evidence impact and ensure the real value of learning and development is seen and appreciated from the board room to the training room. 

Step 3 - Maximising ROI of resilience by focusing on the how and the who

When senior leadership have clarity around resilience and the value it adds to business, it is time to move from the what to the how and who.

In house vs outsourced learning & development

Investing in resilience training is a smart decision in itself, with plenty of methods to choose from how you implement and deliver training.

In-house development and delivery can seem like a cost-effective approach and for good reasons.

  • More control over the development process — In-house L&D involves developers who have a solid understanding of organisational needs and an employee interest in the final program outcome.
  • Update content conveniently — Amendments to content can be fast and easy with an in-house L&D team. Solution generation can be more efficient because developers know the challenges the organisation is facing first-hand.
  • Manage costs more effectively — L&D performed in-house is often already incorporated into the organisation’s budget.
  • The internet – Places like YouTube and Google deliver masses of information.
  • Your LMS – It’s easy to invest in a curated set of online videos with scripts written by subject matter experts.

In-house isn't the answer

When resilience training comes from the in-house L&D team, it may be cheaper but more costly. Here’s why:

Access to experts: Building resilience requires people to explore and understand their thinking, feelings and behaviour. It’s a task best left to people who do it daily with a track record of success.

Anything less leaves people knowing WHAT they should be doing but not HOW to do it. This disconnect between expectation and delivery creates dissatisfaction with learning & development as needs are highlighted by the business and not met by the solution’s perceived owners.

Lack of measurement: Developing resilience in your people should have a clear and tangible output. That output should link directly to a business outcome. For example, where would you see the outcome if you’ve identified a need to build resilience in your leaders when you’ve met that need? Failing to do that means less investment in the future and/or budgets prioritised to those functions able to measure and demonstrate business impact.

Reputation: In our experience, the Human Resources team aim to be crucial to business success rather than a mandatory cost. A trusted partner is involved in strategic decisions. Offering resilience programmes designed by a well-meaning in-house team works against that aspiration when they lack expertise and a clear ROI derived from the measurement of growth and business outcome.

Key takeaway:
Developing resilience training in-house is not the answer because what seems like the most cost-effective option in the short term can become costly in the midterm.

Getting the most from your investment with a training partner

Facilitator-led training is one of the most popular styles and for good reasons. Having an expert on hand drives the experience’s pace, adapts to the participants, and provides examples that resonate with the audience. Facilitator-led training can also be done online with the various available technology.

However, facilitator-led training does come with some downfalls:

  • If it’s only delivered in person, travel costs can quickly build and availability means scalability is expensive.
  • Content delivery relies on the facilitator, meaning that different departments may experience other content.

Online training, apps, and digital resources offer solutions to the challenges and shortcomings of expert-led delivery. Learning content and resources can be organised into libraries that allow individual learning journeys and technology to provide nudges, reminders, and prompts.

However, they can also come with some downfalls:

  • These solutions all rely on self-directed learning and motivation. Whilst this will appeal to some, creating space in busy diaries is too much of an obstacle for many.
  • Chasing, measuring, and usage can become the HR team’s responsibility, taking up valuable resources that could be spent elsewhere.
  • Many apps, whilst attractive, fail to deliver as they can’t compete for the many attentions people have on their mobile device.

When considering investing in your next learning initiative, consider how that training is delivered not just as a means to provide information but also to deliver a change and ROI.

For example, when we work with our clients, we design our programmes with a mixture of approaches based on their needs. Our experienced facilitator’s favour delivery face-to-face, both in the virtual and the real world, to ensure maximum learning impact. We leverage technology such as apps to support that delivery. Our content, if necessary, can be seamlessly delivered via your or our LMS, making an engaging experience for administrators and learners.

The key takeaway

Investing in resilience training helps people live better lives and impacts the bottom line. The right resilience programme brings benefits both at a financial and human level; clearly articulating them is the key to senior management buy-in. With the right partner to guide your implementation and ongoing strategy, you will see short-term and long-term results. Please get in touch if you’d like to chat through any of the points raised in this article.

Talk To Our Team

Think of it as a no-obligation first date where we’ll chat through your business goals, objectives and pain points to see how we can help.

This article was written by: 

Share this:  


More from our blog:


News: Award Win At The 2023 Personnel Today Awards

The Resilience Development Co. proudly secured the “Learning & Development Supplier of the Year” award at the esteemed 2023 Personnel Today Awards. Recognising the company’s exceptional performance, innovative approach, and distinguished client service.

Read More »