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Introduction to the transition

The employment landscape underwent a seismic shift known as the ‘Great Resignation’, marked by an unprecedented number of individuals voluntarily exiting their jobs. This phenomenon was driven by a quest for better work-life balance, higher pay, and more fulfilling roles, particularly as the pandemic reshaped our understanding of work. With over 50 million people partaking in this mass exodus during 2022, the tremors were felt across industries globally. However, as the dust settles, early signs indicate a movement toward a new phase, aptly termed the ‘Big Stay’. The pendulum swings, and as we transition into this new era, it’s imperative to understand the catalysts behind these shifts to better navigate the road ahead in the employment sphere.

As we explore the intricacies of this transition, we’re excited to announce the release of our Coffee Mornings episode this November, which will explore the ‘Big Stay’ era in depth. If this topic piques your interest, make sure to tune back. The episode will dissect key focus areas for employers from Learning and Development to enhancing company culture, all to ensure a smoother sail through the ‘Big Stay’. With insights on modern recognition methods and discussions on leveraging technology for employee development, it promises a rich exploration of evolving workplace dynamics.

The Great Resignation: A brief recap

The Great Resignation, often referred to as the ‘Big Quit’, emerged as a notable trend in 2021 and accelerated through 2022, where millions of employees across the globe voluntarily left their jobs. Fuelled by a desire for better work conditions, higher pay, and a better work-life balance, especially in the wake of the pandemic, this mass resignation challenged traditional employment models. It brought to light the evolving priorities of the workforce, thereby urging organisations to re-evaluate and adapt their employee engagement and retention strategies. This wave of resignations highlighted a pivotal moment of reflection and adaptation in the global employment arena.

Early indicators of change

The wave of the Great Resignation brought about significant disruptions in the labour market, but as we advance into 2023, various signs point towards a stabilisation in employment trends, marking the onset of what’s termed the ‘Big Stay’. Here are some early indicators of this change:

  1. Decline in resignation rates: Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a substantial decline in resignation rates since the peaks observed in late 2021 and 2022.
  2. Stabilisation in job openings and resignations: Observations suggest a plateau in both resignations and job openings, indicating a balance between available jobs and the supply of workers. This is seen as a sign that labour shortages are beginning to slowly abate.
  3. Shift in employee confidence: During the Great Resignation, over 50 million Americans left their jobs, driven by confidence in finding better pay or career opportunities elsewhere. The winding down of this trend may reflect a more stable or less opportunistic job market, possibly due to a saturation of available positions or an increase in employer incentives to retain staff.
  4. Economic challenges: Some regions are facing economic challenges like price inflation outpacing wage growth, which might deter individuals from quitting their jobs impulsively. Additionally, high voluntary quit rates have been problematic for firms, indicating a need for a more stable employment scenario.

These indicators suggest a movement towards a more stable employment environment, setting the stage for the ‘Big Stay’ era. The intricate dynamics of this transition will be explored in depth in our upcoming Coffee Mornings episode this November. If the changing tides of the employment landscape intrigue you, be sure to tune in for a detailed discussion on the implications for employers and the workforce alike.

Transitioning to the ‘Big Stay’

The term ‘Big Stay’ embodies a trend of employees choosing to stay in their current roles for longer durations, contrasting the wave of mass resignations witnessed during the Great Resignation era. As we delve into the UK perspective, various data points lend credence to this transition, albeit with a nuanced narrative.

Economic indicators: A return to stability

  1. Employment rate: The UK’s employment rate was estimated at 75.5% for May to July 2023, indicating a slight decrease compared to the preceding quarter. This decrease was mainly driven by a drop in full-time self-employment, showcasing a potential stabilisation in traditional employment sectors.
  2. Job applications trend: Interestingly, LinkedIn data revealed that the average number of job applications per job seeker increased by 17.6% between April 2022 and April 2023 across several European countries including the UK. This increase suggests a heightened job-seeking activity, albeit with a higher propensity towards securing positions within existing employment, aligning with the ‘Big Stay’ narrative.
  3. Temporary workers: The count of temporary workers in the UK as of July 2023 stood at just under 1.62 million, compared to just over 1.45 million in January, illustrating a potential preference for stable, long-term positions amidst a growing temporary workforce.
  4. Job postings: The UK has seen a decline in job postings, down by 21% from December 2022, which may reflect a decreased employer demand or a stabilisation in employee turnover, resonating with the ‘Big Stay’ notion.
  5. Sectoral loyalty: Some sectors like driving, software development, marketing, and accounting are witnessing higher levels of employee loyalty, contrary to retail, hospitality, manufacturing, sales, and customer service sectors where attrition rates remain high.

The ‘Big Stay’ narrative in the UK is nuanced, with varied implications across different sectors and employment types. As the dynamics of the job market continue to evolve, the ‘Big Stay’ sheds light on the emerging trends of employee retention and job stability, which are crucial for both employers and employees navigating the post-pandemic work landscape.

Organisational responses

Considering the transition from the “Great Resignation” to the “Big Stay” era, organisations in the UK are recalibrating their recruitment strategies and acclimatising to the broader implications in the job market landscape. Here are some of the key adaptations and responses showcased by organisations:

Adapting recruitment strategies

  1. Enhanced Employee Value Proposition (EVP): With the job market still witnessing a substantial level of competition for top talent, organisations are enhancing their EVP by offering more competitive salaries, flexible work arrangements, and robust learning and development opportunities. Companies are also recognising the importance of aligning individual and organisational goals to retain existing talent and attract new talent.
  1. Investment in Learning and Development (L&D): The emphasis on L&D is pronounced, with organisations investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives to bridge the skill gaps and prepare employees for the evolving job roles.
  1. Technology utilisation: The role of technology in supporting employee development and enhancing the recruitment process is being leveraged by organisations. For instance, recruitment agencies are anticipating revenue increases, with a significant number planning to augment their recruiter base, indicating a potential reliance on technology for efficient recruitment processes.
  1. Retention strategies: Retention strategies are being revamped to reduce the turnover rate. For instance, organisations are becoming aware of the significant pay growth differences between employees who stay and those who leave, adjusting compensation packages accordingly to retain key talent.

Broader implications for the job market

  1. Persistent competition: Despite some easing of the labour market conditions, the competition for talent is expected to remain fierce in certain sectors like information and communication, health and social care, and professional services, among others.
  1. Sector-specific challenges: Sector-specific challenges are prominent, with some sectors experiencing higher vacancy rates and others facing structural tightness in labour demand. These challenges necessitate long-term solutions and sector-specific strategies to address talent shortages.
  1. Long-term talent development: The necessity for long-term talent development strategies is underscored, with organisations required to initiate training and reskilling initiatives to meet future talent needs, especially in sectors like education, construction, and manufacturing that require more specialist skills.

The transition from the “Great Resignation” to the “Big Stay” era necessitates a comprehensive re-evaluation and adaptation of recruitment strategies by organisations. The focus has notably shifted towards enhancing the employee experience, investing in talent development, and leveraging technology to navigate the evolving job market dynamics in the UK.

Looking forward

The transition from the Great Resignation to the Big Stay is indicative of an evolving employment landscape. As we move forward into this new era, several trends and pathways emerge that could shape the future of employment in the UK. Here’s an exploration of what lies ahead:

Anticipating future trends

  1. Tight labour market: The UK labour market remains competitive with unfilled vacancies at historically high levels. Top talent continues to be a coveted asset across various sectors.
  1. Salary growth: Due to the tight labour market and the cost-of-living crisis, there’s been an uptick in salary growth, with average private sector regular pay growing at 7.2%. However, this increase doesn’t outpace the inflation rate, resulting in a real term pay decrease of over two percent.
  1. Recruitment and retention challenges: Attracting and retaining the right talent is expected to remain a challenge. In 2022, the UK faced unprecedented challenges in talent acquisition, and while the situation is set to ease somewhat in 2023, recruitment, retention, and pay pressures are not expected to abate evenly across sectors.
  1. Employment rate: The UK employment rate increased slightly to 75.7% between November 2022 and January 2023, indicating a positive trend in the labour market.

The path to sustainable employment

  1. Green jobs growth: Investments and proposals in sustainable development are positioning the UK for significant growth in green jobs over the next decade. This includes a variety of roles, from traditional green jobs like solar panel technicians to jobs in industries newly embracing sustainability like fashion and manufacturing.
  1. Public transport investments: Proposals like the one from the Trade Congress Union suggest a £20 billion per year investment to revamp public transit, which could create over 850,000 jobs in bus/tram operation, construction, manufacturing, and supply chain, supporting some 1.8 million existing and new jobs, and contributing to a £52 billion GDP growth.
  1. Transition to a ‘green economy’: The UK government has already committed to investing £30 million into green jobs and sustainable tech, aligning with broader goals like the ambitious Powering Up Britain plan aimed at boosting the country’s renewable energy sector.
  1. Skills for sustainable employment: The move towards a greener economy necessitates learning new green skills and making businesses more sustainable, as highlighted in the Future of Jobs Report 2023.

The prospective trends and the path towards sustainable employment emphasise a proactive approach by both individuals and organisations. Addressing the recruitment and retention challenges, investing in green jobs, and aligning with sustainability goals are crucial steps for navigating the evolving employment landscape in the UK.


Recap: The Journey from ‘Great Resignation’ to ‘Big Stay’

The narrative of employment has seen a profound shift from the Great Resignation, where millions sought new horizons for better work-life balance and fulfilling roles, to the emergent Big Stay era marked by stabilisation in job market dynamics. This transition encapsulates the evolving priorities of both employers and employees, striving for a more sustainable and mutually beneficial employment landscape.

A new chapter in employment dynamics

As we step into this new chapter, the emphasis is on adopting robust recruitment and retention strategies, embracing sustainability in the workforce, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and development. Our CEO, Sam, encapsulates this sentiment well, stating,

“The Big Stay era heralds a time of reflective action where both organisations and individuals have the opportunity to redefine the employment contract, aligning personal and organisational goals towards a common vision of sustainable growth.” – Sam Ingram, CEO Northreach

For a deeper understanding of the topic and actionable insights on how to navigate the Big Stay era effectively, don’t miss our upcoming episode of Coffee Mornings slated for release this November. It promises a rich discussion on evolving employment trends and strategies to foster a conducive work environment.

Moreover, if you have any job search queries or are seeking job placements, feel free to get in touch with us. Our team is equipped to guide you through the process effectively, ensuring a seamless transition into this new era of employment. Your journey toward a fulfilling career in the Big Stay era is just a conversation away.

With this reflection on past trends and a gaze toward the promising horizon, we invite you to join us in exploring the boundless opportunities the Big Stay era presents. The narrative of employment is unfolding with every passing day, and together, we can script a story of success, sustainability, and substantial growth.