How the Big Stay has Replaced the Great Resignation

 How the Big Stay has Replaced the Great ResignationThe “Big Stay,” a term coined by ADP chief economist Nela Richardson, describes the emerging trend of workers remaining in their current jobs for more extended periods of time. This trend sharply contrasts with the “Great Resignation,” which saw a record-breaking four million workers quit each month in 2021. So, what’s going on with these changes in employee behavior?

The Great Resignation

Triggered by the pandemic shutdowns and lockdowns, the Great Resignation was a period when many individuals reevaluated their priorities and work-life balance, sought better job opportunities, or pursued alternative career paths. ADP states, “The great resignation…was fueled by labor shortages, abundant job opportunities, and big pay increases for workers who quit one job to take another.” Perhaps, more significantly, the sudden acceptance of widespread work-from-home during the pandemic eliminated geographical constraints and increased job mobility.

The Great Resignation truly transformed the workplace. Cigna Healthcare said the pandemic “…opened up an important dialogue between employers and employees, notably around mental health and well-being, empathy, and environmental, social, and corporate governance.” Other significant changes that came from the Great Resignation included:

Increased flexibility:

As of 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work a hybrid model. The McKinsey Global Institute states, “Office attendance is still 30 percent lower than before the pandemic.”


McKinsey found that during the pandemic, a wave of households moved from major cities to the suburbs, a trend that was strongest in the United States. Many people moved because remote and hybrid work made them care less about how far from the office they lived.

Improved benefits and employee investments

In the wake of the pandemic, employers offered more to retain employees, and employees demanded more. This pressure improved employee benefits and led to a more concerted effort to invest in employee well-being and upskilling.

The Big Stay

In May 2023, Nela Richardson wrote, “All the data points to a slowdown in worker turnover as the job and labor markets slow-walk their way back to something approaching pre-pandemic trends. The Big Quit of 2022 could be easing into the Big Stay of 2023.” This prediction held through the end of 2023. Pre-pandemic, in July 2019, the number of quits was 3.6 million. By November 2021, the number of quits reached 4.5 million, the highest level ever recorded since data was first produced in December 2000. For comparison, the number of quits in November 2023 was 2.2 million — a decrease of 51% from November 2021.

The Big Stay is ultimately the result of fewer people quitting their jobs and fewer job openings — two data points influenced by a combination of economic and geopolitical circumstances that motivate companies to adopt cost-cutting strategies. The number of job openings reflects this. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while there were 11.2 million job openings in November 2021, two years later, in November 2023, there were only 8.9 million job openings — a decrease of approximately 20.5%.

The Big Stay denotes a significant shift from the Great Resignation; Workers opt to remain in their current positions longer. While the Great Resignation ushered in considerable workplace changes, shaping a new landscape, those record-breaking quit rates were unsustainable and inevitably leveled out. With more economic uncertainty, a better work-life balance, and more meaningful employment — employees’ motivation has shifted to prioritize job stability.

Only time will tell how the Big Stay pans out, how this shapes the world of work, and which pandemic-induced changes will remain with us in the future of work.

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