‘The Big Stay’ – it’s time to invest in employees, not to cut costs 

The Great Resignation is over. That’s according to the latest Labour Market Outlook report from the CIPD, as reported by Workplace Insight. But we could have told you this was simply a post-Covid correction in any case. Data from the report shows 55 percent  of employers are looking to maintain their current headcount, while analysis of turnover from the ONS Labour Force Survey points to lower staff attrition in 2024. Declining staff turnover is being dubbed The Big Stay.

It’s the type of trend that often triggers cost cutting. Freezing salaries, pausing promotions, adjusting bonuses, scaling back on staff perks and reducing training budgets become go-to tactics for managing the costs of static workforces.

Forward-thinking leaders and HR should avoid this approach and go against the grain. The Big Stay is the prime time for investing in people. Organisations can build intelligent, flexible and resilient teams as sources of value creation. Here’s three key areas to focus on.


1) Align talent and transfer skills

People are an organisation’s richest source of innovation, and long-serving, stable teams are ripe with valuable knowledge, insights and experience. They will have a deep understanding of customers, markets, practices and processes. There’s opportunity for leaders to leverage the familiarity of a less transient workforce to enhance collaboration.

Talent can be aligned to inspire creativity and problem solving. Teams can also be brought together to transfer skills and enhance capabilities from within. In many instances, existing workforces are an untapped asset for finding ways to improve productivity and effectiveness. Many employees will have hidden ideas, abilities and learnings that can be unlocked through training and development.


2) Upskill and create career paths

Low employee turnover creates the ideal circumstances for assessing current skills and determining future requirements. More informed and reliable decisions can be made about potential skills gaps and the actions required for upskilling, because leaders and HR have greater confidence about employee commitment.

Future leaders and managers can also be identified and nurtured. Coaching, mentoring and training can be deployed to grow the next generation of leadership. Long-term succession planning becomes more robust, while clearly defined career paths can be created to motivate and inspire employees. This further strengthens staff retention and minimises any comfort and complacency of people staying put.


3) Engage employees

A cooling labour market means employees start thinking less about the grass being greener elsewhere. They see fewer choices for themselves and there’s an argument to suggest this leads to people begrudgingly sticking with a job and performing below par. This is the pessimistic view.

The opposite, and more positive perspective, is that fewer people moves and job vacancies sharpens the mind. It prompts employees to think again about their roles and what they want from employers. It is an ideal time for leaders and HR to engage staff. Investing in giving employees a voice and listening to them will drive new ideas. It will also air concerns, stopping underlying problems from festering.


Less transient workforces present leaders with numerous advantages. Realising this and investing in talent will keep workforces fresh, motivated and performing at full potential. It will also help keep organisations well in front of those who see The Big Stay as a time to cut people management costs.

Image: Kragelj