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Is ‘Grumpy Staying’ a Symptom of Something Bigger?

Published by
07th November 2023

Buzzword lovers, rejoice. There’s a new phrase circulating the corporate social media sphere: grumpy staying.

If you are yet to come across it, ‘grumpy staying’ refers to an employee who remains in their current role while being openly frustrated, less productive, and visibly agitated with their working environment – but avoids doing anything to improve their situation or attitude. With the cost-of-living crisis still continuing, many workers do not feel at liberty to just up and leave their job, hence leading to a rise in this trend.

At first glance, this would sound like the diagnosis of a ‘bad apple’ employee. But if we dig a little deeper, it is highly likely that an employee isn’t just frustrated for no reason – even if they are reluctant to (or don’t know how to) communicate this.

What might be more productive for employers to do is view ‘grumpy staying’ as a symptom of a larger issue – by diagnosing it at its root, they will be able to remedy it and ensure that other employers do not spiral into these same feelings of frustration. So, what are some possible causes of ‘grumpy staying’?

  • Toxic work environment – this requires looking at the culture of the organization; is it inclusive? Is there constant conflict? Are there a number of complaints about bullying? Having HR conduct a culture audit is a great way of getting to the bottom of this.
  • Lack of career development – 75% of employees believe that it’s important that their employer invests in their personal development. If an employee feels that they don’t have a clear path for development because of a lack of developmental opportunities, this may be leading to them feeling stuck, and subsequently ‘grumpy staying’.
  • No work-life balance – in the modern working world, especially with the post-COVID carpe diem mindset – work-life balance has become a swaying factor for many employees’ contentedness at work. This is confirmed by Randstad’s 2023 report which found that 94% of employees believe work-life balance is important – so if they feel they are not being afforded it, this may lead to ‘grumpy staying’!
  • Personal issues – if, as a manager, you notice an employee acting out of character, this may be a sign that something is going on outside of the workplace. This would be a great opportunity to schedule a one-to-one and discuss how you have noticed a change and wanted to check-in, creating a space for an open dialogue where the employee will feel more comfortable being honest.

Of course, there are instances where someone is frustrated because they feel unfulfilled at work, and this can be tricker to approach as an employer. However, one strategy we have found for this is the idea of creating ‘squiggle room’ – that is, offering job crafting opportunities where suitable to foster innovation and allow an employee to bring some of their personal passions into their working life. This can be a great way of boosting morale and warding off the ‘grumpy staying’ attitude.

If you would like to discuss how we can help your company find the source of this ‘grumpy staying’ and prevent it from affecting productivity, please get in touch with us.

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