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Why the ‘Big Stay’ should not equal standing still for employees

Why the ‘Big Stay’ should not equal standing still for employees

A decreasing job market is leading to what the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has termed the ‘Big Stay’, according to its latest Labour Market Outlook.

This is where declining staff turnover and vacancies result in more employees opting to look for job stability and staying put in their current role. 

On the face of it, this may sound positive for employers, but firms also need to be mindful of an increased risk of their people becoming bored, disengaged or less productive, if they feel they are stuck in a rut. Effectively, staying put in a role should not mean standing still in terms of development- so what can businesses do to help keep employees motivated and moving forward in their careers?

Focus on education

The importance of access to continued learning should not be underestimated and research from LinkedIn showed that amongst the factors that would make people consider leaving their job, the ability to learn and grow was roughly twice as important as getting an increase in pay. 

Some roles have obvious qualification paths and employers can look at providing support along this route via subsidised exam fees and materials and offering study leave. This may sometimes be tied into an agreement to stay with the company for a certain period of time.

Dedicated training to upskill and empower line managers is another valuable growth area and should ideally look at both deepening their knowledge of the employment life cycle, in terms of understanding how to manage people from joining to leaving and all that happens in between, as well as build on softer skills, such as coaching and negotiating difficult conversations.

A period of declining staff turnover can also be the ideal time for firms to audit the knowledge and qualifications in their workforce and look at gap filling. For example, the demand for employees with sustainability expertise is growing, yet according to LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2023, seven in eight workers globally lack a single green skill, so providing relevant sustainability training or qualifications for individuals could support future personal and business growth.

Experience-based learning

Not all organisations have the ability to offer financial support towards professional qualifications, nor is everyone motivated by the prospect of further formal training and exams, so businesses can equally look at leveraging on-the-job experiences to help employees develop. A layered approach to learning also aids those who are going along the qualification route to explore the practical application of their knowledge in the real world.

Establishing key employees as subject matter experts or to lead an internal working group or committee are great ways to share knowledge and expose people to dealing with a wider range of colleagues and challenges. Coaching and mentoring can be really valuable here, offering a more senior colleague the chance to develop their skills and a more junior member of the team to benefit from their experience. 

It’s equally important to offer chances to grow knowledge of how the company works outside of an individual’s own role or department, so things like secondments, work shadowing or being involved in project-based work can be highly effective.

Knowledge sharing within a business also aids in reducing key-person dependency, helping to transfer silos of individual knowledge into collective knowledge pools across a business.

Sense of purpose

According to the Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey, having a strong sense of purpose and meaning has been shown to have significantly more bearing on job satisfaction than almost all other known factors. It’s vital therefore that employees can understand how their role contributes to key company goals and objectives and that senior leaders share regular progress updates, as well as offer the opportunity to celebrate key milestones. 

Firms with an annual appraisal process may also be better served by combining this with more meaningful quarterly progress reviews and regular one-to-ones, to create frequent touchpoints with managers on goals and progress and to recognise contributions and effort.

Community engagement and charity work programmes via the workplace can also enhance job satisfaction and provide a platform for employees to align their personal values with their professional lives and use skills and expertise for a purpose beyond profit.

By ensuring that employees can still feel like they are progressing in their careers, even when there are fewer opportunities to move up the corporate ladder, firms will help avoid people becoming disengaged and unmotivated. This is equally relevant for small businesses who typically have flatter structures in the first place, with limited scope for employees to move into a new role.

Rebecca Dixon is Head of HR at Progeny HR Consultancy and Advice


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