Stay Afloat: 7 Steps to Continuity in the Great Resignation

Lindsey Bly
August 18, 2021
min read
September 19, 2023
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More than a dozen leaders offer practical tips on how they're keeping their company running smoothly during the Great Resignation.
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“The pandemic has reshaped our thoughts on risk,” said LinkedIn’s Hello Monday podcast host Jessi Hempel in a recent episode. For both the employees who leave and the organizations left scrambling to carry on business as usual after, the Great Resignation has created some unforeseen risks and consequences that many are just now putting together.

And with over 4 million people quitting their jobs in the month of April alone, it’s clear that companies need to get (and stay) prepared if they’re going to survive this strange interlude, which doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon.

Keep reading to discover some actionable tips we sourced from productivity experts that will ensure business continuity during and after the Great Resignation.

What is the Great Resignation?

The term was coined by Management professor Anthony Klotz and represents the period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic where people are leaving their jobs at a concerning rate.

The reasons why vary. From reshaping their personal goals for the future to starting new careers to shifting mindsets around commuting and quality of life while working from home, employees have lots of reasons for needing to make a change.

The Microsoft Work Trend Index put a number to the phenomenon: 41 percent of U.S. employees are expected to at least consider leaving their employer in 2021.

How to survive the Great Resignation

We’ve interviewed more than a dozen company Presidents, founders, and CEOs on what they’ve been doing to keep their business running smoothly despite all of the chaos. They offered practical tips that cover every area you need to increase productivity and help your team come out the other side better than ever.

From acing the onboarding process to improving culture through soft skills, these actionable steps will help you survive the Great Resignation no matter which order you do them in.

Step 1: Project manage employee exits

Strong project management is the backbone of any company transition. Juggling resignations with hiring and maintaining all active projects is a lot at one time. In addition to reassigning tasks, managers can make the most of the departing employee’s time before they officially leave during offboarding.

First things first: get the full picture of what they have been working on and what they were planning. Ask them where they think they can delegate tasks and what absolutely must be done by them before their departure. Get feedback from management on what else you may need to ask of this employee before they go.

Schedule out their final events just like you would any other project. This includes wrapping up tasks, meeting with HR, and transferring knowledge to the next hire.

Step 2: Ask for referrals

In a recent email exchange with Scribe, Matt Spiegel of Lawmatics shared his tips for surviving the Great Resignation and coming out more successful than before. “One of the most practical tips that I can give for dealing with employees who quit during the pandemic would be to ask for referrals for potential replacements,” said Spiegel.

“As a CEO who values career growth, I would definitely understand if an employee wants to quit because they no longer feel like their job is aligning with their professional goals. I do not want to clip my employees' wings and so I am okay with them resigning, as long as they give ample notice and refer me to an equally competent person who can be their replacement. By doing this, I am avoiding the problem of having 'holes' in my workforce that may affect my company's productivity gains.”

If they don’t have any referrals off the top of their head, ask them if they’d be willing to share the job description on their personal LinkedIn just in case someone in their network is looking.

Step 3: Get feedback

Although getting feedback from an employee as they exit is commonly done, it is especially important now. Businesses across every industry are being impacted and are now competing for employees. If you want to attract and retain top talent, you’ll have to work quickly to apply the feedback so that your brand will become even more desirable to candidates.

To collect the information, allow them to contribute to an anonymous survey on or after their last day. Work with HR to include questions that will better understand how to support the rest of your staff.

You can also extend this step to the rest of your team. In an interview with Scribe, Trivia Games Co-Founder Sam Richards offered insight on exactly how they capture and utilize employee survey data.

“We started using pulse surveys to understand the morale of our team,” says Richards. “When crafted properly, the survey will yield results that provide insights to what our employees are frustrated with, areas we can improve our leadership, and how to build a stronger culture. We were able to make some pivots that helped us improve morale by 38%, a KPI we monitor regularly.”

In addition to surveys, employers can also look to real-life transitioning employees at other companies for guidance. ABC’s Good Morning Texas recently featured copywriter and actor Kristen Van Nest as an example of one such employee.

On the Paid Vocation podcast, Van Nest shared her own experience of changing careers and explained that the best strategy is to keep your current job while building up the skillset needed for the next one.

For employers, this means there are opportunities to both support employees before they leave and ensure they stay on at least a little bit longer before they absolutely need to be replaced. Creating an environment where open communication is celebrated, offering skill-building opportunities in other departments, and making mentorship a core component and not a perk of working with your company are all great ways to do so.

It’s also wise to monitor feedback left on job and company review sites such as Glassdoor. Look at actionable takeaways from comments on what can be improved for each department. Potential candidates will often check these before their interviews and may end up canceling if they see something they don’t like.

Step 4: Communicate with staff

For those on your team who stay, watching a few people walk at the door around the same time can decrease morale at best and get them thinking about leaving too at worst. That’s why it’s so important to handle the transition with care. In a recent email with Scribe, Natural Patch Company Founder Michael Jankie offered the following tips:

  • Acknowledge departures: “Don't let one or two resignations grow into a deluge,” says Jankie. “A resignation shouldn't be office gossip, but the subject of a team meeting, where a superior demonstrates flexibility and empathy—without any wrath. As you all know, X left their position last week because [insert concise reason], and we are going to stay in touch as they move ahead with their career and wish them the best for new opportunities.”
  • Work together: Don't dump the resignee's workload on other employees,” warns Jankie. “That will only aggravate the problem. Instead, brainstorm as a team how to manage the status quo until a replacement is hired—and find a replacement quickly.”
  • Offer alternatives: Look for ways to mitigate losing anyone else from the team by offering something of value that will improve their productivity despite the upheaval. For example, Jankie says, “if you know that working remotely has substantially improved an employee's life, then don't wait for them to resign. Negotiate a flexible solution like remote work plus daily 10-minute check-ins combined with video team meetings and an agreed-upon schedule for visiting a physical office in person, perhaps one day or afternoon a week.”

Step 5: Create a hiring strategy

Ask yourself and your team why your employees are jumping ship and what you can do to improve your workplace for the next person who fills their shoes.

For example, you might decide to hire generalists and support them with training and documentation that will allow them to specialize for your specific company quickly. “When your team is made up of experts in their field,” Marketing VP of Expert Opportunities, Mitch Harad, tells Scribe, “you instantly lose that expertise when they leave. In contrast, when your team is made up of individuals with transferable skills, you’re able to plug the gaps even when skilled employees pack up and head to (what they think is) greener pastures.”

Step 6: Develop soft skills

The pandemic has shown us that creating a positive work environment is just as important as compensation. Without it, employees begin to feel their quality of life diminishing and start to look elsewhere for a better fit. We collected some of the top soft skills your management team should formally workshop as you continue to transition and hire new members.

Here is some expert advice from CEOs and founders who personally shared their insights with Scribe:

  • Create motivation: Tony Grenier, CEO of Instrument Global, said “go back to the reason why you were there” to keep yourself and others motivated. Bringing up your personal why statement in future interviews will also help with hiring team members who feel aligned with the company’s mission and culture.
  • Communicate expectations: Hypernia Founder Matthew Paxton shared “One way I like to keep productivity up in the workplace is to remind people that not every day can be perfectly productive. That might seem counteractive, but acknowledging the fact that everyone has their off days actually helps a lot in boosting people's energy and creativity when it comes to their work.”
  • Show empathy: Richard Mews, CEO of Sell with Richard, believes “every business should be aware that their workers are having a difficult time as a result of the pandemic's disturbance in their life. Employers should try to understand their workers' emotions and views, and then use that knowledge to guide their actions when making work-policy choices. Employees are more dedicated to their job when they realize that their bosses are interested not just about their productivity at work, but also about their well-being.”
  • Set the tone: Ebony Chappell, Co-Founder and CMO of FormsPal, said “it is critical to create a friendly atmosphere since it will influence the whole staff's attitude.” Chappell added, “Employers should attempt to keep an eye on how their employees are feeling.”
  • Be supportive: One of the many reasons why employees quit is the narcissistic behavior of the employer and the lack of adequate support. CEO Dr. Michael Kay Newman said, “When individuals are coping with difficulties at work, they often seek assistance from others. Employers must be supportive of their workers through these difficult times. If their workers have issues or fears, they should be ready to address those concerns by providing whatever assistance the business can.”

    “If you are not clear about what you expect from your team, then it will be difficult to maintain a cohesive and productive work environment. By communicating your expectations, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal. This can help to avoid misunderstandings and conflict, and ultimately make the transition smoother for everyone involved.” said Mike Jackowski, Managing Director of Veautie.

Step 7: Capture knowledge before it walks out your door

In a conversation with Scribe, Olivia Tan of CocoFax said that she sees employers unintentionally frustrating and inhibiting new employees most often by failing to capture knowledge before employees leave. According to Tan, the problem “lies in poor onboarding for new staff.”

“It might not even be that we don’t have the appropriate tools, it’s more that we don’t do a good job of intentionally equipping our staff, especially new staff,” shares Tan. “You can make sure that staff members have their basic needs met by ensuring they are adequately equipped and trained when they begin.”

In a separate conversation with Scribe, President and CEO of Professional Alternatives Chris Myers agreed with Tan’s point of view.

“Dealing with people quitting, especially during a pandemic can be challenging,” said Myers. “But just like any other situation, it’s critical to minimize disruptions to the business and maintain a professional environment, while working to provide a smooth transition. One way you can do this is by working with the employee or employees leaving and working out a plan of departure, which will allow a proper pass off between the two parties.”

Which begs the question: When employees leave, how do we make sure they don’t walk out the door with all of their valuable knowledge on processes and procedures that only someone who has been doing their job would know?

When employees put in their notice for leave, they have a million things to do in a short amount of time.

Chances are they have another opportunity lined up, so between the stress of unfinished business and how low stakes the situation is since they are leaving anyway, it’s no wonder why many things tend to slip between the cracks.

So despite their best efforts, they may not adequately capture and share how they do their jobs. Automating that process not only makes it more efficient, but it also ensures high-quality information and coverage for all processes.

One of the most efficient and detailed solutions is to use Scribe. Scribe makes the process of transferring knowledge simple. By automating the process of creating a visually appealing step-by-step guide for virtually any process or SOP, Scribe users can save time they would normally spend explaining and re-explaining key job functions.

Not only is this process faster and more efficient than text or even video tutorials, but it’s also more intuitive. The departing employee can demonstrate through screen capture exactly what they do. After, their work will automatically be converted into an easy-to-use, reference-able how to guide based on the recording.

From there, they are able to quickly customize the guide and share it with the new employee using a simple hyperlink. What used to take days to transfer and often required significant back and forth now takes a fraction of that time and provides a highly visual reference your team can look back on for years to come.

Invest in solutions that make employee exits and onboarding seamless

When an employee leaves, it’s important for executives to understand why it happened, what they can do to improve, and how they can best set up their next employee for success. Losing valuable knowledge during an employee transition is not only a waste of resources but it can also have a ripple effect on other teams and projects.

Businesses that take a proactive approach to the Great Resignation are more likely to succeed. Using tools like Scribe can optimize the process by making it easier for anyone to capture, revise, and share all of their job-related knowledge in two weeks or less. One employee leaving opens up an opportunity for improved onboarding with your next employee.

Need help transitioning your team but don’t know how to do it without interrupting progress? See how easy it is to create and share step-by-step guides in seconds with Scribe for free!

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