Meaningful and Routine Opportunities to Participate and Contribute

Research consistently identifies this characteristic as being part of the experience of persons who exhibit resilience.  An individual is more likely to be resilient if they have opportunities for meaningful involvement and responsibility beyond that which immediately effects their own welfare and personal needs (i.e., the have the opportunity to engage in altruistic acts) as well as having the opportunity to routinely participate and make a meaningful contribution to whatever familial, social or organisational structure in which they find themselves.  The latter, of course, will impact on their own welfare and attainment of personal needs.

This characteristic contributes to the development of pro-social bonding – the recognition that the world does not revolve around me and that I have a responsibility to ensure the welfare of others as well as my own welfare. It also enhances an individual’s sense of self-worth and self-efficacy – they know they have a contribution to make and that people want them to make it.  They and their contribution are valued.  It is important to note that this contribution and participation ought to be regular and meaningful if it is going to enhance an individual’s resilience and create a culture where participation and contribution by individuals becomes the norm.  These opportunities need to be more than token or sporadic.

In the community context this is expressed through practices and processes that facilitate a sense of involvement. Resilient communities have governance structures and processes that invite and facilitate individual and group involvement in decision making and implementation of resultant policies and procedures. Resilient communities have processes of consultation which seek and the expertise, needs, issues, concerns and opinions of various sections of that community.  People in resilient communities believe in the importance of the members of that community working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for individuals, groups and the community as a whole.  They are aware of their roles and responsibilities and have equitable access to the resources of the community to carry out those roles and responsibilities.

In the workplace context this is expressed through practices that facilitate this sense of involvement.  In resilient organisations, an individual’s role and responsibilities are greater than punching the clock and doing the bare minimum.  He or she is seen as an important asset of the organisation who has a valuable and useful perspective on their work and how the core objectives of the organisation can be achieved.  Resilient organisations encourage, recognise and value employees who participate and contribute to the life and core objectives of the organisation.

The advent of increased organisational involvement in the life of the wider community could be viewed as being a cynical and manipulative marketing ploy. The range and diversity of this type of investment in social capital is, I believe, another aspect of this human desire and need to participate and contribute beyond our own immediate interests and needs.  To recognise that we, or our organisation, are not the centre of the universe and that investment in social capital is a natural and necessary part of being human – a recognition that “no man is an island”.