The Great Resignation offers even greater opportunities for senior managers

The Great resignation

It’s almost serendipitous that the word “resignation” means to both leave a job, and to accept the inevitable.

Countless words have already been written about The Great Resignation flowing through companies globally. In fact, we’ve already discussed another part of the equation in this megatrend, The Great Retirement.

But while The Great Resignation is inevitable, and the commentary has largely pushed a negative sentiment for businesses fearful of losing workers, the focus for small-to-medium enterprises should be on the opportunities it presents. Especially for businesses that focus on people and culture.

Research published in Harvard Business Review that delved into 9 million employee records from more than 4,000 companies shows two key findings: the majority of people resigning are mid-career, and specific industries such as health and technology will be more affected.

Despite the risk of losing your employees, the biggest opportunity here for senior managers is threefold:

  • To rise up and become a part owner of the business you work in
  • To acquire talent with deep knowledge and IP, potentially from your competitors
  • To overhaul your business culture to attract and keep talented workers

Be a part owner of the business you work in

Why resign when you can reshape your career?

Now is the time to approach business owners, seek out a succession plan, and then grasp the chance to be a part of it. It’s a smart move, and probably one of the great opportunities for senior managers over the next few years.

The Harvard research that shows mid-career workers are leaving their jobs in droves is particularly poignant, and presents a huge opportunity for a cohort made up of people aged 35 to 50 who are in middle and senior positions.

Many have been long-serving, deep-seated employees in businesses. And the research shows many are leaving because the pandemic has presented them a new way of working, and put their personal priorities into perspective.

The great Retirement (mentioned earlier) is the trend over the next few years where Baby Boomers who own profitable businesses will be looking to retire and sell the businesses they own. As a manager in a business owned by a retiring business owner, this presents an opportunity to become CEO and part owner, which is exactly what Dan Kramarzewski did. 

“I think it is a great opportunity,” says the chief executive of Smoke Alarm Testing Services (SATS), Daniel Kramarzewski.

“I think everyone, given the opportunity, if they’re in any level of management, should really be looking at some sort of equity stake in the business.”

Daniel worked as general manager at SATS before buying part of the business a few years ago. When the business was acquired by PieLAB, Daniel maintained an ownership stake and took over from the retiring founder as CEO. 

It’s a move he says senior managers would be crazy not to make during the next few years.

“When your goals and your own financial prosperity are tied to the same metrics as a business, you can take a more holistic approach to its success,” he says.

“As a part owner and a leader, you look past the current budget period or the current KPIs, and really look at the longer term thinking for the business.

“And with business owners retiring and looking to sell, I think it’s better to invest in the company you work in and grasp that opportunity. Because timing can be everything.”

At PieLAB we’ve helped senior managers access the capital and resources they need to buy part of the business in which they work, ensuring positive outcomes for all parties involved. The managers step up as part owners with PieLAB, and the current owners get an outcome of a good sale and even the chance to still be involved. 

How to approach owners to buy into or acquire their business

Daniel says when it comes to approaching an owner to discuss buying their business, timing is vital.

“You have to find the right opportunity in the business, be honest and open, and have the right timing,” he says. 

“I bought in when the business expanded into a new territory, which allowed me to really have a stake in the future of the company.

“When PieLAB acquired the business, I was able to keep a stake, step up into the CEO role and focus on growth from there with the resources PieLAB put around me. But it was all about timing, and the timing in the next year or so is really exciting for senior managers.”

“Working with PieLAB has been excellent. They’re very much into not running the business for you. They’re just there on the side as cheerleaders, making sure you have the resources you need. The connections you need. They have a lot of support mechanisms in place as far as people, resources and tools.”

Keeping and attracting talent with deep experience and knowledge

Yes, the next year might put you at risk of losing key personnel in your business. And we all know the financial impact that hiring and onboarding staff can have. It can be deflating culturally, and it slows growth. But your competitors and other businesses will be going through the same thing, and to not see that as an opportunity is a mistake.

With that mid-career group being some of the most mission-critical and IP-rich employees businesses will have, the timing is perfect for companies to meaningfully and authentically engage talented prospects looking for a work home that delivers more than a salary and a service or product.

Don’t forget, net migration is forecast to be in the negative until at least late 2022. The Great Resignation, if managed correctly, will be the talent acquisition chance of a lifetime for many business owners and managers. But apart from attractive salary offers and strong businesses, senior managers must address the elephant in the boardroom – culture.

Culture is vital

Our values at PieLAB talk about being inquisitive, remaining humble, being generous and having a get up and go mentality.

And if your values don’t reflect the values, wants and needs of this motivated cohort of careerists, you may see the opportunity squandered.

Because of the pandemic, in just two short years, work cultures have transformed. Remote working opportunities are no longer just optional. Safe, inclusive workplace settings can make or break a business’s reputation. Antiquated work practices that shun technology and innovation are laughed at. Honest, open, high performing and fun work relationships are embraced.

The culture game has changed, and staff will gladly join The Great Resignation rather than stay in an unaligned workplace.

The opportunity is for senior managers and business owners to articulate the values by which their business stands, and to live them in a way that makes the people who join your organisation want to stay, grow your business, and thrive while doing it.
But it can only work if the culture is strong, employee-focused, valued and embraced by everyone. And those are the facts we should all be resigned to.


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