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Business, Interrupted: The “Great Resignation” and Business Continuity

By Castellan Solutions:

It’s no secret that for years it’s been increasingly challenging to find skilled professionals to fill critical positions in business continuity, crisis management, cybersecurity, and operational resilience. But because of staffing challenges created from our changing workforce in the wake of the pandemic, it may have never been more challenging than right now.

That can be increasingly frustrating for those of us who do the work on a daily basis because even though it can be hard to keep the right people in the right positions, the work of resilience management professionals has never been more important or more necessary.

But as the great resignation of employees continues, what can your organization do to ensure you can maintain business continuity and operational resilience, no matter what employment challenges your team faces?

We talked about the value of employee contributions to continuity on a recent episode of Castellan’s podcast, “Business Interrupted,” asking Tara Davidson, Global Vice President of People at Castellan Solutions, to share her thoughts on how organizations can keep their people happy, attract new, qualified talent, and maintain business continuity as we navigate what our new workforces look like today.

The Great Discontent
When some organizations talk about business continuity and operational resilience, they often do so in the context of finances, tools, and resources. Often overlooked is the critical role human capital plays in organizational success.

Maybe that’s why, in part, we’ve seen nearly 12 million people leave their jobs since April 2021, with some 4.4 million leaving their jobs in September 2021 alone. Gallup is even calling this “Great Resignation” the “Great Discontent,” and in a recent poll discovered that some 48% of people are considering leaving their job in the next six months. Our new reality may be that this trend continues for some time. So, how do we adapt?

The People Factor for Operational Resilience
The pandemic has affected everyone, including what the modern workforce looks like and how we interact. Many employees who were once accustomed to work full-time on-site have adjusted to new remote roles, and many will likely choose to remain remote or in a hybrid capacity for the near-term.

This has challenged us to think about tools and resources, like the software and services to operate as business as usual, but what about those important connections, like chats in the hallway or in-person team meetings that help teams connect and communicate? How do we ensure work gets done, but also that people feel connected, can collaborate and can communicate effectively?

What we’re seeing is that for organizations that haven’t yet figured out how to do this well, there’s a lot of opportunity out there for employees to shift to other organizations.

The new reality is organizations must adapt to compete in this market. It’s no longer always business-first. Today, we’re seeing more employees pushing for—and demanding—a me-first responsive workplace. We’re no longer working in an employer’s market. It’s an employee-driven world.

Meeting Employees Where They’re At
Today, attracting and retaining skilled employees is about meeting employees where they’re at. How can your organization ensure you’re constantly making the work environment better? What are you doing to meet employee flexibility requests while ensuring your business processes are managed effectively?

Flexibility
Now that many employees have had a taste of work-from-home and have demonstrated success and productivity—and in many cases increased productivity—organizations may find it challenging to force their teams back into an office-only work environment.

And it’s not just about where employees work, it’s also about offering flexible models so employees can have some leeway into the flexibility of the hours they work, while managing family and other responsibilities.

Recognition
In some organizations, leaders and managers, even executives, struggle with meaningful employee recognition, even when they’re seeing their employees face-to-face every day. That gets increasingly challenging in remote or hybrid models. To remain attractive to existing and new talent, successful organizations will need to find ways to recognize employee contributions in a meaningful way.

One way to do this is to focus on outcomes, more than outputs. It’s no longer about how many hours an employee puts in, but what’s the result of those hours of work. Think that old adage, work smarter, not harder.

The Burnout Factor
While employers can work on building a quality, flexible work environment that recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions, we can’t lose sight of the burnout factor. Today, burnout can rear its head in many ways. The monotony of working from home. Trying to balance family responsibilities against work requirements in a remote world. Feeling “always on” to respond to work needs, while struggling to strike work-life balance.

One way to try to get a handle on potential burnout effects is taking a proactive approach with your employees instead of waiting until someone, frustrated, throws their hands up in the air, saying they’ve had enough.

Instead, encourage your managers and team leaders to routinely touch base with their team members. Are they asking the right questions to get a clear understanding of employee motivation and investment into their jobs?

That may also include building a rapport to gain an understanding of outside pressures and challenges and how they affect employee morale, as well as setting expectations about work-life balance. For example, just because your manager sends emails late at night, doesn’t mean you’re expected to respond right away.

The Value of Human Capital
Employees are an organization’s most important asset. While that’s always been true, our pandemic environment creates new challenges.

There are a number of factors we should consider when supporting our teams, which, in turn, can help contribute to enhanced performance, goal-meeting, and individual, team, and organizational success.

Some key points to consider:

  • Do your employees have the tools and resources needed to do their jobs?
  • Do they understand expectations?
  • Do they understand how their roles contribute to organizational goals?
  • If a team member needs additional support, for example through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), do they know how to access those services?
  • Is the organization doing a good job communicating how much employees are valued?
  • Are our managers from the top down communicating effectively—and soliciting and responding to feedback on a routine basis?

Another important component of this is building a good organizational culture, one that supports employees but also lives and breathes the organization’s mission and values.

In our remote world, “It’s going back to the fundamentals,” Davidson pointed out. “Culture is based on experiences you have, relationships you have with others, and the memories you make. All of those factor into the culture that you are trying to retain or build or improve.”

Would you like to hear more of our conversation with Tara Davidson to gain more insight on how your organization can help attract and retain skilled employees during the “great resignation?” Would you like to learn more about how to keep laser-focused on business continuity and operational resilience while facing staffing challenges? Check out episode 8: “Maintaining Business Continuity in the Great Resignation with Tara Davidson,” from Castellan or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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