The Great Resignation: How L&D Can Slow the Effects of the Workforce Exodus

With the Great Resignation underway, companies are scrambling to fill positions, maintain operations with their existing employees, and prepare for the potential long-term effects of the pandemic and an altered workplace.

While early into the pandemic, businesses laid off millions, the opposite is happening now: millions are quitting. Employees might be hesitant to return to the office due to increased health risks, while others are resigning to switch careers or pursue their passions.

Indeed, pandemic-fueled changes have forced employees to rethink their personal and professional priorities.

If millions of professionals across all industries have not returned to their jobs, what are organizations to do in the meantime? 

L&D is the most equipped team that can step in and lead organizations during this period of transition. Let’s take a look at how L&D leaders and their teams can slow the effects of this mass workforce exodus—or even slow the exodus in the first place.

Shifting priorities in the organization make it more challenging than ever to keep L&D aligned with business goals. If your L&D strategy is in need of an overhaul, download this L&D strategy toolkit for guidance.

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Onboarding

With mass resignations comes the need for mass hirings—when they occur. 

This process will place the burden on L&D to devise stronger onboarding for new employees at scale. Beyond the interview process, the first impression new hires receive when they join a company is in the onboarding process, so L&D assumes the responsibility of creating and delivering meaningful experiences for employees as they join the organization. 

Onboarding is more critical than ever. Research conducted by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.

The ability to engage employees faster also helps those employees become more productive faster.

Further to onboarding, of course, is offboarding: exit interviews conducted not by L&D but rather by the HR team to try and understand why the employee is leaving. L&D can work with HR to insert questions about onboarding, training, and skills development and support that can be delivered during the exit interview. While this information has always been valuable regardless of the employee’s situation or the business climate in general, it is imperative at the current time for organizations to better understand employees’ motivations and perceptions at work. 

Rather than rely on third-party research or the news media, companies can lean on L&D to help them collect this feedback to better understand not only what drives employees to leave but also what might have inspired them to stay.

Knowledge Management

As employees leave en masse, so does a large amount of their intellectual capital.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

L&D can be tasked with developing solutions and processes to stave off the outflow of knowledge capital when employees leave. 

While subject matter experts may have lent their expertise for the development of courses taken by dozens of employees, even smaller dimensions of “casual” knowledge can be captured via several platforms, and not those necessarily owned by L&D.

Working with the business units, L&D can take a leadership role in advising how to best retain the knowledge that employees are contributing to the organization, often on a daily basis. Whether stored in simple Word documents or Google Docs, in a knowledge management Wiki, or even formalized as a support tool in the LMS, L&D can create processes that business units can follow in order to retain and manage as much knowledge as possible.

Download this free eBook to understand the forces that are driving the need to overcome internal skills obsolescence so you can design an effective upskilling/reskilling program for your organization.

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Upskilling and Reskilling

If employees are considering leaving the company because they wish to change careers—one of the reasons cited above contributing to the Great Resignation—L&D can step in and help prevent this talent from exiting the organization.

In fact, there might be a role at the company for this employee to transition into once they have acquired these new skills.

For example, an accounting professional does not feel challenged and has decided that now is the perfect time to resign, take courses in analytics and machine learning, and transition to a career in the field of data science at another company. 

However, rather than resign, remain out of work, learn on their own, and then find another place of employment with these new skills, L&D can step in and help the employee reskill in data analytics, and help the employee find another role within the organization. 

At scale, internal upskilling and reskilling programs can help a company keep valuable employees by re-training them in disciplines they wish to pursue.

Final Thoughts

Training and skills development can be presented as one of the organization’s most important benefits for employees. 

This benefit—and the financial value associated with it—can be presented to job candidates during the recruiting and interview process. 

As employees are increasingly viewing particular positions less as a job and more as a conduit to acquiring knowledge and skills necessary for them to continue in their chosen professions, an organization’s training programs can serve as a valuable tool to attract and retain applicants.

Do you have a gameplan that’s built for tackling uncertainty? Check out this on-demand webinar recording: The New L&D Gameplan: How to Safeguard Against Uncertainty in Uncertain Times.

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