IN THIS ARTICLE
Get expert insights straight to your inbox.
It seems that whenever there’s a hiccup in the economy or a blip in employment data, a new trend is declared. Not wanting to miss out on the buzz—or, more specifically, the clicks—pundits and media outlets alike pile on, and this new trend dominates the news cycles until the next new crisis du jour looms on the horizon. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Some recent examples:
First, we experienced “The Great Resignation.”
Next came the “Quiet Quitting” trend.
Both gave way to the “Quiet Hiring” phenomenon.
And now, according to an article published by Insider magazine, team leaders need to prepare for something called “The Big Stay.”
The article cites a handful of economists who contend that a trio of economic conditions—declining quit rates, declining job opening rates, and declining pay increases for job-hoppers—will lead to a rising tide of employees who are planning to hunker down and remain in their existing roles instead of looking for new opportunities in the still abundant job market.
If you’re a manager, executive, or HR pro, you’re probably getting a little tired of the “next big panic” emerging every couple of months.
You’re not alone.
Don’t get me wrong, events of the past few years have triggered some tectonic shifts in the world of work. The rise of work-from-home models, the need to integrate AI into daily workflows, and an increased emphasis on “skills, not degrees” have each left an indelible mark on the employment landscape. But before you jump headlong into making significant changes to your operating model based on this latest trend, let’s take a look at actual market conditions:
- The quit rate — a metric used to measure the number of employees who voluntarily leave their job – dropped from 2.9% in 2022 to 2.5% in 2023. That’s only a four-tenths of a percent drop and still represents some 3.85 million US workers who left their current role in search of greener pastures.
- Job openings declined from the previous month and fell short of market estimates, but there are still 9.59 million vacancies in the U.S., creating a ratio of open jobs to available workers of 1.6 to 1. This still represents a remarkable amount of opportunity for job seekers.
- Pay increases for job changers have experienced their slowest pace of growth since November 2021, but that still represents a 13.2% increase for changes vs. a 6.7% increase for job stayers – a +6.5% delta. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows an even rosier picture for job changers, where that delta swings to +7.6%.
Are these indicators trending slightly downward? Yes.
Does this mean you can breathe a sigh of relief? Absolutely not.
The past two years, against which these latest economic markers are measured, saw literal once-in-a-generation shifts in the labor market. As employees learned how to navigate life during and immediately after the pandemic, priorities shifted, and the role that work played in their day-to-day lives was redefined. Now that we’re settling into these new work rhythms, stabilization was bound to occur.
But no matter what happens within the broader economy or job market, you don’t have to jump through hoops in response. The fundamentals of building, maintaining, and growing successful teams are evergreen.
Here are three activities you should be doing in ANY labor market:
Continually invest in your teams
One of the most common pitfalls of team leaders is to expend a significant amount of time, energy, and effort recruiting the right person for a job, then failing to help that person keep his/her/their skills sharp once they’re in the role. In this scenario, the overall effectiveness of your team will erode, and that triggers a cascading set of negative outcomes. Team effectiveness will decline, high-performing team members will seek other employment options, and those “left behind” will absorb the overflow work and eventually burn out, joining their compatriots in search of better working conditions.
By contrast, providing your existing talent with an opportunity to acquire new skills will elevate the performance of the team as a whole and boost morale for all who take advantage of those programs. One of the most practical ways to “level up” your team is to help them learn how to interpret, understand, and act upon data. Springboard’s Data-Driven Strategic Thinking, for example, provides an excellent foundation and serves as a catalyst for acquiring additional data-centric skills… which leads us to our next best practice for strategic team leaders.
Create opportunities for growth
According to a recent Inc. magazine article, one of the most prominent causes of employee turnover is a lack of career development opportunities. Citing a study by scheduling platform provider Doodle, the article highlights that nearly 49% of all workers believe that they’re not getting enough training, coaching, or mentoring. Perhaps more troubling, 50% of workers surveyed said their careers “stalled or even regressed” during recent years. Now, add to the mix the increasingly pervasive use of Generative AI tools, and you have a perfect recipe for high attrition.
Simply stated, if you’re not creating opportunities for your employees – if you’re not deliberately and methodically showing employees how they can grow within the four walls of your business – they’ll flee to an employer who will. One of the ways Springboard helps team leaders to create growth opportunities is through our dedicated Career Track offerings. Our human-led approach to skills mastery includes coaches and mentors, enabling team members to gain additional insight and guidance from thought leaders. This adds another dimension to their own personal growth, and the portfolio projects they complete as part of the Springboard curricula ensure they are doing work that is meaningful and immediately applicable.
Mercilessly protect your brand
The one thing about reputations is, good or bad, they’re notoriously difficult to shake. This is true of your company’s brand in the marketplace in general, but it also stands true for your company’s brand as an employer and your personal brand as a team leader. Treat your team members well, invest in their ongoing growth and advancement, and they’ll become magnets for talent. Even if they ultimately change jobs, having positive things to say about the time they spent under your leadership will help recruiting and retention efforts.
Of course, there are times when preserving that brand can challenging. During times of layoffs or staff reductions, for example, making it a less-than-traumatic event for those involved is not easy. However, there are ways you can show support that’s both meaningful and tangible. Reskilling existing employees so they can more readily move from one part of your business to another is an excellent way to minimize the size of layoffs, and as a bonus, minimize the recruiting burden for those open roles as well. And for those employees who are impacted by a reduction in force, extending practical learning opportunities as part of a severance package can help take the sting out of an unplanned exit.
In good times and bad, whether the economy is in a boom or bust cycle, attending to the needs of your team is always good practice.
For more ways to help your team stay sharp, focused, and, most of all, loyal, check out our latest e-book.