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Unpredictability? Workplace difficulties? It all means growth

September 28, 2022 - 4 min read


The workplace is far more than a place for work. It’s a place to negotiate craftspersonship, test the limits of creativity, and find new frontiers. Anyone who has navigated an organization or company knows it’s not a static, clinical entity; it’s comprised of people, social dynamics, and a complex web of decision-making.

Our work lives are often just as complex as we are. They require us to bend, stretch, and grow. Luckily, science shows that with every difficulty we face at work, we expand. When we work through our issues as professionals, the evolution isn’t in vain.

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The more we deal with, the more we grow

People grow the most when they are stretched, and work is a place that stretches us immensely. Economic instability has meant layoffs, reorganizations, and a lack of clarity and transparency about what may be asked of employees to drive the organizational mission forward. Add to that the very real possibility of personal issues cropping up —injuries, illness, or other traumatic events —and the difficulties can be complex to navigate for any employee.

A common misperception exists about the correlation between the presence of difficulty and positive outcomes. When do people grow the most? When tides are shifting and change is rampant? Or in periods of relative consistency?

To find out, BetterUp computed the average growth across all the whole person model (WPM) dimensions and sub-dimensions for all members. After observing the top 30% and bottom 30% of members by their WPM growth and comparing the average number of work-life events (WLEs) between them, we discovered some interesting findings.




The top 30% of those in the growth group experienced 11% more work-life events (role changes, relocation, family challenges, etc.) than the bottom 30%. Essentially, the number of work-life events we experience is directly correlated to the growth we experience.

Moreover, we found that the more work-life events people experienced, the more they grew in growth and agency mindset, internal locus of control, self-efficacy, and emotional regulation. Our data shows that employees grow most in periods of extensive change.

Growth creates resilient employees

Put simply, growth is a by-product of resilience; a trait built over time, and by facing obstacles head-on. Experience itself teaches resilience — with every difficult situation we navigate, our resilience grows. BetterUp research found that members have grown their resilience by 17% throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, showing that when faced with challenges — especially significant ones — our resilience grows along with us.

People who show evidence of growth and resilience often display strong emotional well-being, commitment to achieving their goals, and view challenges or change as new opportunities. They also deal with setbacks with a positive attitude.

The bottom line? Whether one is relocating to another city for work or having a difficult conversation with a teammate, challenges and change can boost growth, especially when supplemented with support and guidance from a trusted coach. We become stronger and more resilient by staying the course.


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Published September 28, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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