The back to work blues – to stay or go?

“Should I Stay, or Should I Go". The Clash sang it and is it the theme song ringing in many valued employees’ ears at this time of year.

Christmas seems a natural time to sit back, relax and think about the year going forward, and also a time to consider how you want your life to look moving into 2020.

As recruiters, we tend to see candidates at the point where they are considering a move, they come to us to help them work through the plus’s and minus’s to whether they should stay in their current role, or make a move.

In our experience, the 4 major drivers that make employees think about moving on from their current role are:


Lack of recognition and feeling that their contribution is not being valued is the leading reason why people think about moving on from a role. At its core, employee recognition is the open acknowledgment and expressed appreciation for employees’ contributions to their organization – your staff want to feel they are making a difference, and that their work is valued.

A simple conversation at the start of the year about their goals and how their role and skills will help the company achieve its business objectives can help an employee feel excited about the year ahead, and that they are being recognised for the job they do.

Total rewards

Total rewards as a key retention driver goes beyond base pay, bonuses, and compensation overall. It includes health benefits like insurance and financial benefits like retirement savings. For many companies, it also includes any gifts or bonuses received due to a recognition program. For many employees, their total rewards play an important part towards their overall job satisfaction, and ensuring that employee pay and benefits remain competitive, is key for staff retention.


As recruiters we know from our own experiences how critical managers are to the employee experience. An employee’s immediate supervisor directly influences many key drivers of engagement and retention such as development and recognition. If your manager doesn’t recognize your work, how can you trust them to support your career growth and success?

Leadership plays an important role in helping employees understand how their role and work fits within the overall strategy and business goals, and supports people to feel engaged and positive.

Clearly articulating the company’s vision, values and strategic direction to their teams is really important, and the start of the year is a great time to do this. This also provides transparency that makes people feel secure.

Learning, growth and development

Nobody wants to feel stuck. No matter how much education you provide, many people are not satisfied unless they can move to progressively more challenging jobs or projects.

Simply changing someone’s title from junior to senior does not make them feel more confident and capable. Often people look outside their current organisation because they are seeking new challenges and opportunities, and don’t feel that their current role is developing their skills.

Often, when people think about ‘job learning’, they think training, and that’s certainly a key part, whether in-class workshops or bite-sized videos on-demand. However, the majority of career development comes from on-the-job learning. It’s an organic way we share knowledge. Plus, it’s often the most effective way to learn in a real environment with a real task. Employees want to strengthen their skill sets to do better in their job, career, and sometimes just for the challenge and stimulation that keeps coming to work every day interesting.

As a manager, taking the time at the beginning of the year to talk with your team on stretch goals, and helping support them to join or lead a project that requires them to learn new skills is a great way of supporting their growth and development, and giving them a fresh challenge to help them remain with the company.

Wellness and work-life balance

Many people come back from their summer break and time with family determined to seek a better work/life balance. Supporting employees to more effectively juggle the out of work demands and lifestyle such as raising a family, exercise, and health and wellness goals, helps employees work more efficiently and manage their stress levels. Initiatives such as a four-day working week have been canvassed in the media recently, and offering flexible working arrangements is a good retention driver. Research from Owl Labs and TINYpulse showed companies that support remote work have 25% less staff turnover.

We are interested to hear your thoughts if you’ve noticed other drivers play a part in why you or your team stay or go?

- Wendy Chrisp

Sign up to receive job alerts

Sign up here