The Big Stay: Companies See Productivity Gains As Workers Stay in Their Jobs

The percentage of workers who quit their jobs in January 2024 is the lowest it has been since August of 2020. With layoffs increasing significantly, people may be concerned about leaving without something else being lined up - or they may genuinely be satisfied with their current jobs. Either way, job offers and employee engagement efforts need to be more compelling to keep the “Big Stay” trend going.

What the Big Stay Means for Employers

The last four years felt like a big game of musical chairs in the job market. The Great Resignation led to many long-term employees retiring and shorter-term employees jumping ship for other positions or opting out of the labor market entirely. Many businesses benefited from an uptick in productivity as a result of remote work and otherwise may have suffered productivity losses from having to train new hires and a hit to the bottom line. 

With the Great Resignation officially over at the end of 2023, employers have generally enjoyed a period of stability and productivity gains, even though most have stopped full-time remote work, which was offering a productivity bump. Lower quit rates are often a factor in higher productivity, and non-farm US businesses reported a 3.2% productivity bump by the end of 2023. Most medium to large-sized companies have slowed hiring. In response, employees have stopped leaving. Companies shouldn’t be complacent in thinking that this means their staff are engaged and satisfied - employees may just be nervous due to economic uncertainty.

Determining if Your Employees are Genuinely Happy or “Frozen in Place”

We’ve extensively covered how to deal with engagement variability and employee layoff anxiety. But how can you truly tell if your employee is happy where they are, especially if they’re hitting all of their metrics and completing projects as expected? A scared or anxious employee is just as likely to be an excellent performer as a happy employee, so it can be tough to tell. But, the difference for your company is massive - the scared employee will jump ship at the first sign of a better job, while the happy one will stay and continue to be productive. They are also more likely to boost morale and become better assets to the business. 

Understanding how engaged employees are in the business is best handled through individual employee relationships, but technology can help, too. Gaining insight into how an employee is feeling about their role can be as simple as asking. And if they ask for something, try to meet them halfway if you can’t give them everything right now. Higher salaries, professional development, and flexibility are high priorities for most employees in today’s job market. Some leaders may be willing to offer those benefits, while others may be apprehensive. If that tug-of-war exists in your business, try to find compromises to show your staff that they are valued. 

For example, if upper management is resistant to higher salaries, consider a bump if specific targets are met. That gives your employees something to work towards and addresses management concerns about the financial risk. If your team can make more money for the business, they can make more money for themselves. 

Specific timelines are important as well. “Maybe next year…” is a phrase that most staff hear as “you’re never getting this thing you asked for.” A timeline-oriented goal may be offering one more work-from-home day in the summer if the team meets specific goals by the end of the second quarter for instance.

Measuring Engagement and Activities with Non-Invasive Technology

An employee productivity monitoring solution such as Prodoscore can assist management in measuring specific types of staff activities, as well as overall engagement. Unlike more invasive solutions, Prodoscore integrates with core productivity applications to surface critical insights about how employees work. While a “scared” employee may produce just as much as a happy one, you can use Prodoscore for clues as to what kind of activities they are doing. 

For example, a sales rep who is less enthusiastic may be spending more time in a CRM versus making outbound calls - and you can see this type of activity without invasively tracking each keystroke. An unhappy employee may also collaborate less with colleagues. There are a number of micro-metrics that can help you understand what’s happening on a day-to-day individual basis to determine if an employee is in it for the right reasons. 

The key to converting an employee from “scared” to “happy” lies entirely in your treatment of them and establishing clear goals and rewards for reaching those goals. The bottom line is that someone in the “scared” category mostly won’t reveal that they are scared for fear of being viewed as pessimistic or weak. Managers have to be vigilant and watch for signs that an employee isn’t happy in their role, along with trying to give them what they want.

Prodoscore, our employee productivity management solution, can help you make data-driven decisions about your team. Contact us today for a demonstration!

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