Monday, September 25

Great Resignation: how to combat the knowledge drain effect

telecommuting big resignation

The Great Resignation. The Great Reorganization. The Great Abandon. By now we have all heard of this phenomenon or have experienced it firsthand. The pandemic has fostered a period of reflection that has led many employees, from any company and sector, to explore new possibilities and we are witnessing high levels of job change. Thus, according to data from the InfoJobs study on job abandonment in Spain, up to 23% of Spanish workers considered leaving their jobs in 2021, and 27% plan to do so in 2022.

For companies, one of the biggest threats of so many employee changes is not only the risk of losing talent and productivity, but also the valuable knowledge they take with them; knowledge that may have been developed over the years and that is essential for running daily operations, for making business decisions or for setting the path to follow in terms of innovation.

While the Big Resignation may stabilize at some point, it clearly doesn’t look like we’re going back to a low-turnover era.

While the Big Resignation may eventually level off, it clearly doesn’t look like we’re going back to a low-turnover era. So it’s time for companies to embrace this new workforce dynamic and its inevitable effects, including in the realm of corporate knowledge. Those who embrace this change, and are proactive in retaining and transferring knowledge, are the winners.

To develop effective strategies to enable the preservation, protection and sharing of knowledge, there are two key strategies:

  1. Create a culture that welcomes, encourages and rewards knowledge sharing. Although there are people who argue that highly competitive work environments enhance creativity and productivity, it is also true that they can implicitly encourage the accumulation of information. Collaborative environments not only motivate teams to perform better collectively, but also reward people for bringing to the surface and sharing valuable insights that might otherwise have remained hidden.
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Implementing a new company culture takes time, but companies can take advantage of this unique moment, known by some as “The Great Reset”, to accelerate the process of such change. Most companies are already embracing new ways to build community in the digital office, and how to recognize and support people when they’re not all together by leveraging collaboration tools to make remote work easier. These types of actions pave the way towards a collaborative culture of knowledge sharing, even with teleworking staff.

  1. Technology as a solution. Before the era of the Great Renunciation, employees used to leave their work tools and acquired information by signing a series of documents or reporting it. But now that turnover occurs on a large scale and in situations where there may be several employees leaving at once, it is not always possible to do these handovers in detail. Mass exits can also overwhelm new employees or those still with the company, who have to sift through information to decide what is useful and what isn’t.

Technology can go a long way toward empowering employees by giving them greater access to information, including information that belonged to their predecessors. There are currently many solutions (business content management systems, intranets, information archives, among others) that are very valid and useful for storing and organizing all information. But information does not equal knowledge. And to be truly useful, it has to be broken down, put into context, collated, and tested.

Employees need to be able to find exactly what they need at the right time, which is no easy feat in today’s world of work, where the tools we use — like Slack, Zoom, Google Workspace, or Microsoft Teams — are creating new nooks and crannies. That’s why the most effective tools will be those that can aggregate all workplace data into a central repository and allow for advanced searching. Machine learning can be very powerful in helping to understand the context of what is stored and providing the intelligence to know how relevant, up-to-date and accurate information is. These types of functionalities are what can convert an “information repository” into a “knowledge asset”.

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It takes more than plugging the drain

Preserving collective knowledge and allowing better access to it not only helps mitigate the knowledge-leakage effect of the “Great Renunciation,” it can also help retain current employees, which could slow down this cultural shift.

Greater access to knowledge helps people work smarter and more efficiently. It facilitates better decision-making, accelerating innovation and strengthening the commitment and work objectives of employees. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it can help restore human connection. At a time when many are looking to strengthen relationships with their peers, a culture of knowledge sharing can create space for collaboration and a sense of community, even when people are not together in the office. Those stable relationships are where the magic happens and where the value that extends to all areas of the business is born.

By Kelly Griswold, Onna Director of Operations

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