Everyone was quitting. Employers were struggling with retention and having to adapt with cutting-edge strategies, offerings and salaries to stay afloat. But the tides have changed. Now, the new future-of-work buzzword is a little less edgy than its predecessors: the Big Stay is all about, well, staying put.
The rate of Americans quitting their jobs is down “5% from the prior period, and more than double that from the same period a year ago,” according to the ADP Research Institute. In the report, Nela Richardson, Ph.D., comments that the “Big Quit” is turning into the “Big Stay,” pointing to job openings falling by 20% from when they peaked a year ago in March 2022.
One reason Richardson points to is that job switchers aren’t being rewarded with significant salary increases as they might have in the past. In addition, the labor shortage that was making it a job hunter’s market is easing up. Specifically, older Americans over 55 and younger Americans under 25 are working more than before, though still less than pandemic levels, while “labor-force participation for workers aged 25 to 54 are up slightly from where it was before the pandemic.”
In potentially the only aspect of the future of work to return to pre-pandemic “normal,” Richardson predicts just that will happen with job turnover and labor markets. “The Big Quit of 2022 could be easing into the Big Stay of 2023,” she wrote.
The ‘Big Stay’: Hunkering down and staying put
It’s been a volatile few years, inside and outside the office (in person or virtual). Australia-based marketing director Elice Max, the director of EMUCoupon, is one of those participating in the Big Stay. “Considering the condition of the job market, I would much rather stay put where I am, rather than enter the job market,” she says. “Although it’s been more than a year since the lockdown ended, in many countries the economy is still recovering. In such a landscape, leaving your secure job to dive into the job market is meaningless, unless you are prepared to take a hit to your income.”
She says that humans are hard-wired to “strive for greater heights,” but the job market is a deterrent. “I wanted to go for the big leagues and felt like I had enough experience to get hired at a fairly good position within a multinational [company]. However, once I realized the competition that arose in the job market, I realized that the salary standards I had set were not going to be met even if I got into one of the best companies out there, which is primarily why I chose to stay,” Max continues.
Maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side
As Max said, it can seem attractive to look for something better—higher paying, better environment, cooler industry, more upward mobility or many other goals. But resume and career coach Arissan Nicole says this isn’t always the case. She cautions employees that the grass is, in fact, not always greener on the other side.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying put for the long haul at a company or even in a specific role if the decision feels good to you,” she says. “If you currently have a job that doesn’t impact your life outside of work, you like your colleagues well enough and you don’t have issues with your company, why not stay? A lot of people don’t need an elusive ‘dream job’ to be happy, and working is not a priority for them; it is simply the means to pay the bills and do the things they love outside of work.” But, she specifies, if you are staying out of fear of not being hirable, it might be time to look for an exit strategy.
And, staying put isn’t an excuse to get too comfortable, as the tides can change. “For folks that are ready to hunker down, I still recommend keeping your resume up to date and track the different things you do and your accomplishments. It’s important not to get lulled into a false sense of security: As we see with the mass layoffs over the last year, the decision to stay is not always yours to make,” she says.
Redefining yourself outside your career
For some clients, the idea of always trying to jump to the next opportunity and level up isn’t the goal anymore, according to Tramelle Jones, San Antonio-based career coach and owner of TDJ Consulting. “There are employees who aren’t looking for career challenges—they just need stability and are happy to keep the wheels turning day after day. These employees may be focused on passion projects or building small businesses outside of work, while others have expensive hobbies they need a steady paycheck to support,” she says.
“The recurring theme is that these employees don’t define themselves by their profession. As many of us seek meaning in our lives, we understand that we’ll need to create that meaning outside the workplace,” Jones continues.
The must-try moves employers can make to convince employees to stay long-term
Some employees are naturally staying put, whether out of fear or comfort. But there are steps employers can take to ensure those employees want to stay if retention isn’t as good as it can be. Sarah Schmidt, Chicago-based executive vice president of Interdependence Public Relations, has a few tips for bosses ready to ensure employees are in it for the long haul:
- “We have a successful remote culture and flexibility among our teams. Our team members are working so closely together daily, that cross-country friendships have formed.”
- “Because team members are measured against their own performance, our firm doesn’t have a competitive hierarchy—team members aren’t competing with each other for the next rung on the ladder; performance is rewarded, period.”
- “A shift in the economy has forced us to be very ‘buttoned up’ with our time, our efficiencies and our clients. We’ve streamlined our functions and hired with precision. This keeps the work clear, balanced and profitable, something employees also welcome.”
- “We have created an on-camera culture. This has shaped how team members relate to one another and strengthened relationships, creating an enviable remote work culture.”
- “We give all our employees access to senior leaders. Regular updates from leaders, transparency on our programs and regular career growth conversations and programs keep employees connected to all levels of the organization. This in-depth relationship with us and the ability to clearly see a career path is a powerful incentive to build your role here at Interdependence.”
And a word from an employer who hasn’t lost an employee in four years
Sometimes, creating an environment employees want to stay in is about getting back to the basics of being a good leader. According to Anthony Begando, Tampa Bay-based CEO of ProCredEx, a platform for employee credentialing in highly regulated industries, “Treat people well. Do the right thing. Listen first. Deliver on promised value,” their company motto, applies to their employees, too. He adds, “Treat your people like family and not like numbers or assets. Be truthful and candid. Shower them with recognition when due. Remind them about how valuable they are regularly. Live up to your ethos everyday.”