We live in a time of disorder. We all feel the rumblings: an earthquake of societal and economic upheaval challenging institutions, governments, business, the environment. Longstanding conventions—laws, currencies, borders—meant to smooth over conflict and rise above cultural differences are being doubted and tested. And it’s not all at the abstract level of pandemics, economics and war. Even incivility in a grocery store can leave us shaken.

This is how chaos feels.

It’s difficult to wrap our heads around an exponential rate of change, to determine how we handle a long period of chaos. According to WEF Global Risk Report Data 41.8% of global leaders surveyed expect constant volatility with multiple surprises with a top 10 list of risks spanning social cohesion, deteriorating mental health and cybersecurity. Korn Ferry’s Briefings magazine cover headline, “Chaos Control” highlights the need for leaders to identify the issues and signals so they can take control of and act on the need to be highly agile and improvise solutions.

Ingenuity is the way to counter chaos.

When real earthquakes devastated Tokyo, people rebounded with new technology: seismic isolation systems for buildings, which decouple the foundations of skyscrapers from their upper stories. When the rumbling ends, the swaying buildings are still intact.

As business leaders, we need to decouple the shaky ground our workers feel from their ability to think, execute, and achieve. Chaos is immensely stressful. In the United States, anxiety is up 41%, stress is up 39%, feelings of social isolation and loneliness are up 28%. All of this, of course, carries into a person’s work life. According to Gallup’s 2021 Global Emotions Study, 41% of employees report experiencing constant worry throughout the day and 74% of employees say they’re extremely burned out.

For humans, the seismic isolation systems are psychological: skills and practices that help us think flexibly, separate real and unlikely risks, and stay calm in the face of challenge.

But here, too, technology can help us achieve change at scale. We can apply our immense AI capabilities to predict downward spirals from the individual level to entire populations. We can deploy highly personalized training at scale, not just for those people with mental illness but for everyone who has to react to the chaos—which is, in fact, all of us.

Wellbeing is a critical issue facing the workforce. 79% of Risk Managers are advising their organizations that workforce exhaustion and mental health challenges from sustained disruption are now serious business risks. The overwhelming sense of stress brought on by uncertainty and change, if left unmanaged, leads to work-life balance issues, change fatigue, higher turnover rates, and reduced productivity.

Here’s how to apply human ingenuity to the challenge:

Predict with Data

  • 54% of executives understand that deteriorating mental health will impact their businesses, and 43% realize that the impact could be catastrophic. While the acknowledgement is there, many struggle to understand the real-time status and trends of mental wellness in their organizations. Predictive People Analytics (PPA) data gathering and analysis can help organizations predict burnout, stress, performance, and wellbeing.

Prioritize Mental Well-being

  • Personalized digital training can address many of the issues before they have an impact.
  • Initiatives like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), resources for employees struggling with a range of mental health concerns, and virtual care options are essential to protecting employee wellbeing.
  • In addition to in-office support, employees also want more flexible working hours, sabbaticals, remote working, and financial wellbeing solutions.

Provide Flexibility

  • While the pandemic was a chaos trigger, it also brought new clarity to many people: they want flexibility, they believe they’re more productive when they work from home, and they don’t want to commute to work every morning. 38% of employees want flexibility and only 43% of employers offer it. If employers aren’t giving them what they want, they’ll leave — and it’s paying off. The hourly wages of these job switchers went up 4.3% compared to the 3.2% who stayed.
  • The pandemic has shifted employer-employee relationships and your team is looking to you to be more of a support system than in previous years. Building manager and team empathy serve as a core resilience skill. Prioritize virtual commute options. Consider offering educational campaigns on various mental health topics.

Chaos is exhausting. There are actions we must take now to turn risk into opportunity and chaos into resilience. It’s the moment for ingenuity.