How to Continue Growing Your Business During The Great Resignation of 2021

Aug 18, 2021
How to Continue Growing Your Business During The Great Resignation of 2021

While the global pandemic cannot stop a visionary leader from having big ideas, sometimes the big idea is how to maintain and grow your business in a challenging staffing environment. 


It seems most every restaurant, store, venue, facility you enter these days has a sign that says some version of “We are currently experiencing a staffing challenge”.  Most every call center, doctor’s office, customer service line you contact has a recording stating that they are experiencing longer than average waits … due to staffing.  It’s usually followed with something like “Please be patient with those workers who are doing their best to serve you”.  And there are competing stories on social media of customers showing grace to hardworking folks by leaving large tips and offering compliments and thanks, and those unfortunate situations where customers are losing their patience and behaving badly (to put it mildly).  These are symptoms of The Great Resignation of 2021.


I spent 7 years at Disney working in Workforce Management, at one point leading Workforce Management supporting an operation.  In that role, I had teams supporting all aspects of Workforce Management, including Workload, Staffing, Scheduling, Deployment, and Pay.  These functions were referred to (and represented visually) as the Labor Bridge.  I spent part of my time in Workforce Management in a global process improvement role.  In that role I was able to get a broader view and implement large scale efficiency improvements.


One of the keys to the Disney culture is the importance of balancing the Cast Experience, the Guest Experience and Business Results.  They refer to it as the three-legged stool.  While working in Workforce Management I was passionate about balancing 3 other priorities -- Recruiting, Utilization and Retention.  While functionally the Disney Workforce Management organization was structured around the steps of the Labor Bridge, I believe the strategy to ensure the right number of the right Cast in the right place at the right time could best be summarized using Recruiting, Utilization and Retention. 


These principles, which I formulated while working for a Workforce Management organization that supported 50K+ Cast Members at Disney, can apply to any organization.



  • Before you start recruiting people, get a really good understanding of how many people you need.  And what kind of people you need.  At one point while I was supporting Workforce Management for Sports & Recreation at Disney we were recruiting for a position at Water Parks that was pretty tough to fill.  By analyzing the workload and really asking ourselves “what does this person need to be able to do”, we were able to increase our hiring for an easier to fill role and decrease our need for a hard to fill role. 


  • When you are determining workload – be granular.  In a theme park example – it’s not just about what time the park opens applying to the whole park.  What time do merchandise locations open, do the food & beverage locations open at different times based on the meal periods they service?  Do locations in the back of the park open later than those in the front of the park?  Do locations in the front of the park stay open later than those in the back of the park? 


  • Hire for culture.  It’s more than just their resume.  Will the individual fit with the organization, fit with the team, fill a talent gap?  If you hire someone that does not fit the team – you could negatively impact productivity for the entire organization. 




  • Understand your processes.  If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.  Where is there re-work, duplication of efforts, hand-offs, idle time?    At one point I was leading a correspondence team where we had one group of Cast that read Guest’s letters and added them to our systems.  Then a separate group read the letter again to respond to the Guest.  Some of these letters were very (very) lengthy.  We changed our process to combine these steps and reduce duplication of work. 


  • Listen to your employees.  They will have some of the best ideas to improve efficiency.  They don’t want to be bored any more than you want them being unproductive and employees don’t want to deal with frustrated customers any more than the customer wants to be frustrated.  In that same correspondence team I had a Cast Member recommend a no cost internal process change that saved us 50% of what we were paying a vendor by improving the quality of the input we provided to the vendor. 


  • Look for waste.  While at Disney we studied locations where we had Cast with unproductive time, or Cast on short shifts.  We looked for locations that were busy in the morning, like breakfast at Resorts, and where we could potentially deploy Cast to a location that was busy in the afternoon, like lunch in a theme park. 




  • Take care of your team.  Don’t just have a competitive offer to get new employees.  Show some love to those that have stayed around to contribute to your success. 


  • It’s not just about pay.  Understand the employee journey.  Consider things like: schedules, parking, break time, break locations, transportation, perks.  And the most important driver of employee satisfaction – leadership, leadership, leadership.  How you treat people is the best way to retain employees. 


  • There is such a thing as good turnover.  If it’s not a good fit – let the employee go … whether they decide to walk away, or you have to performance manage them out.  A wrong fit employee can be toxic. 



While these examples are primarily based on my Disney experience - I am confident you can find parallels to your organization.  Whether you are a call center, a sales team, a retail establishment, a brick-and-mortar organization or an online operation – the same philosophies apply. 


Hiring new employees is not likely to get easier any time soon.  It’s incumbent upon you to not only recruit the right employees – but leverage the ones you have to make your organization most productive, while also taking care of those folks to keep them around.  Don’t be a victim of The Great Resignation of 2021


If you’re struggling to find the parallels, or you just need an objective expert to validate your suspicions – let’s jump on a call. Click here to schedule a free strategy session so that we can create a customized plan to survive and thrive through difficult times.


Let’s do this!


About Me:  I'm Heather Havey and my consulting business helps visionary leaders bring their big ideas to implemented reality.   I’m passionate about efficiency and business transformation, and I will empower you to accelerate the achievement of your big goals.   I offer customized, no-nonsense, real-world solutions designed to position you as the hero in the reinvention of your business.    


Check out options for how we may be able to work together at .  


And if you think you could benefit from having an expert partner with real-world, action-oriented change solutions that will absolutely work, let’s chat.  In your free strategy session we’ll get those ideas out of the clouds and onto the road to results.  Schedule a complimentary strategy session to talk about bringing your vision to life.


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