How to Reshape Your Business Strategy to Survive 'The Great Resignation'

Despite the logical predictions about how the Covid-19 pandemic would negatively impact the economy across 2020 and 2021, many industries managed to sustain the hit and even grow sustainably.

S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Averages set record highs in August. Most industries mark growth over the course of the year, excluding highly affected segments such as airlines, restaurants, leisure and auto parts.

It seems that the vaccine’s efficacy will mitigate the possibilities of future lockdowns, and hiring is on the rise.

One broadly unexpected phenomenon is the global exodus of talent across organizations small and large. The pandemic led to an unprecedented shift in rethinking work-life balance, providing new possibilities for freelancers working from home, along with an influx of remote jobs through new businesses making the leap.

And while the onus is on shaping the work dynamics around retaining talent, the majority of the businesses suffered the consequences of parting ways with long-time employees.

Rebuilding core departments and catching up on institutional knowledge takes time. Here is what to do to reduce the tension across the organization  and externally  and survive through the next few months.

Discuss “The Great Resignation” with your team

The current shift in employment will leave a lot of your staff questioning the longevity of the company. Without a consistent message, you risk an upcoming trend of “abandoning the ship” unless you communicate the situation proactively.

While examining internal retention trends  and working closely with our portfolio of clients and partners  I realized that resignations are not limited to location, industry or business size. Four million people quit their job in April alone  the largest number over the past few decades.

Set up an internal meeting openly discussing the global phenomenon with your team. Assure them that the business is prepared  and it’s a transitional period for the world.

Disclose your hiring plans and your future roadmap, firmly explaining the next steps. Make sure your vision stays clear and you get the buy-in from key stakeholders within the company. If needed, schedule one-on-ones with managers and individual contributors who need to be actively involved in the process.

Understand it’s a calibration process

Studying the crowd dynamics reveals a lot about social influence and tendencies to blindly follow the new movement. 

Your talent is surrounded by people other than workplace colleagues  family members, friends, peers in other firms. Some of them are likely to quit their jobs and boast about new job opportunities, better possibilities, even escaping large communities and living as nomads or getting into woodwork or farming. 

While the sense of freedom sounds exhilarating, it represents an extreme  seeking a breath of fresh air after a long year of lockdowns and panic, which affected social dynamics, disarmed parents with kids staying at home and led many to question employment safety across brick and mortars. 

In the coming months, this process is bound to hit a plateau, with regular payroll taking precedence and team activities coming back to life.

Until then, take the time to understand the process and plan your strategy around it.

Communicate delays with clients and partners

If you are overwhelmed yet struggling to fill in key positions, the worst step you can take is forcing your team members to assimilate the responsibilities of former employees. 

Instead, rethink your existing workflow and plan for possible delays, considering the available resources on deck.

While your recruitment team may be lining up a series of interviews or you are busy establishing strategic partnerships for outsourcing and offloading work, account for possible delays in deliveries. Worst-case scenario, consider some downsizing or putting some less critical contracts or projects on hold for a few months.

Once you run the numbers and estimate the workload capacity, communicate this with your accounts and partners. Set up calls with your blue-chip clients or send a newsletter indicating possible delays with orders. Assure them it’s a temporary restructuring during the summer season.

This may be a great opportunity to negotiate some long-term contracts, set innovative preorder deals or even negotiate better terms for next year. Consider the cost of acquiring new talent and budget this into contractual forecasts and estimations.

Update your Q4 roadmap considering your resources

While existing plans may have been put in motion already, it’s time to rethink the available resources and revamp your plans accordingly.

Run a simple SWOT analysis across your organization, rediscovering the business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at the time. Losing key talent may leave you vulnerable with your current roadmap in mind, but being flexible when it comes to future plans may reveal new possibilities or ventures you can bootstrap internally. 

Stress your strong suits first and foremost  and double down in areas you can still invest your full potential in.

Take a step back

Managing a fast-paced business or projecting a certain profit margin year over year can be stressful with key people leaving the organization. If nothing else works, consider adjusting the numbers and transitioning to maintenance mode until the year’s end.

Growing a business is a marathon. It takes time and perseverance. Sometimes, injuries are bound to happen, and you need some bench time for recovery before you get ready for the next run. The pandemic has disarmed tens of millions of businesses around the world, and there is nothing shameful in postponing your growth plans for next year.

While key hires may no longer be on board, it’s time to take a step back and rethink the strategy for the next few months. Companies juggle with challenges  be it securing funding, closing strategic contracts, hiring top talent, promoting for management roles or innovating to stay ahead of their competition.

Make sure you understand the global trends and act accordingly. Risk management is integral for every entrepreneur out there  and this is what differentiates resilient leaders from newcomers. 

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