Hybrid and remote work ushered in a new era for the relationship between employers and employees. As workers reassessed their priorities and where work fits in, millions joined The Great Resignation. For employees who stayed, many opted for “quiet quitting”—a newly coined term for disengaging, or putting in the bare minimum at work.
The percentage of engaged workers was on the decline before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fallout from The Great Resignation and economic uncertainty has driven engagement levels to all-time lows. For example, a recent Adobe study found that employees—worried about the economy—are spending around two hours during each workday consuming news instead of getting tasks done. Disengaged employees can cost organizations millions of dollars in revenue due to lower productivity. According to a Gallup poll, each disengaged employee costs their employer $3,400 to $10,000.
Unfortunately, the tactics many companies are employing to address quiet quitting and declining productivity are backfiring. From mandating a return to the office to installing surveillance software, attempts to monitor employee productivity are more likely to damage morale and increase potential for turnover.
What is quiet quitting?
The term “quiet quitting” has been defined as doing exactly what you are paid to do, and no more. After years of so-called “hustle culture,” employees are setting firmer boundaries and refusing to pull long hours or go above and beyond for their jobs.
While setting boundaries is a positive step in the pursuit of work-life balance, disengagement and willingness to only do the bare minimum aren’t the hallmarks of a healthy workforce. Unfortunately, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the US workforce. Globally, only 22% of employees report feeling engaged at work.
So, how can companies stop quiet quitting and employees from doomscrolling on the job? We’ve outlined 3 simple steps to re-engage your workforce and improve both productivity and retention.
Employee engagement strategies to win back the quiet quitters
#1: Improve your approach to talent mapping for better alignment between employees and their jobs
Talent mapping is an exercise organizations conduct to understand what talent they need to reach long-term goals. While many companies think of talent mapping as a chance to strategize for external hiring, looking internally can help make sure that your current workforce is staying engaged and inspired. IBM found, for example, that a company loses 10 to 30% of its original capabilities every year due to turnover, new technology and changes in business.
Disengaged employees often don’t see a path forward for their career. Underperformers might be overwhelmed by certain tasks because they are underqualified for their role. High performers, on the other hand, might experience burnout as their managers increasingly lean on them to execute high priority projects. Other employees might simply be bored, and have turned outside their jobs for inspiration and excitement. For all groups, they aren’t enthusiastic about their future at the company.
Talent mapping can be used to better align employee skill sets with a firm’s needs, so you can combat these feelings of apathy. The first step is to get a sense of what skills, knowledge and experience you have hidden in your workforce. There are several tactics to help you identify where this hidden potential in your workforce might exist, including:
- Annual performance conversations where managers incorporate career planning into the meeting. Does this employee have experiences or skills from previous roles or hobbies that don’t directly apply to their current role? Do they aspire to learn or improve specific skills, or explore new areas of the business? Are they feeling overwhelmed to the point where more support is needed?
- 1:1 meetings between leadership and employees to understand the competency and skills gaps they’ve identified. Sometimes, those in the trenches day-to-day have the sharpest perspectives on what’s missing.
- Employee databases that outline employees’ areas of interest, skills and certifications and previous jobs.
- Surveys that uncover employee sentiment about career paths, learning and development and the organization’s performance.
Collecting employee feedback as you hone your talent development strategy will build trust in the long term while enabling you to take actionable steps toward filling competency gaps, whether through offering additional training and career development opportunities, or hiring fresh talent. One study found that companies that act on employee feedback are 11x more likely to have high retention.
#2: Offer career development opportunities to drive increased productivity and retention
When employees feel stuck, it’s natural that they feel disengaged. After you’ve gained a better sense of the direction your workforce needs to go, it’s time to offer more career development opportunities that can get employees excited to learn new skills, and reinvigorate their passion for their jobs.
In addition to compensation, employees expect their jobs to provide career development and other benefits for the work they do. According to a CNBC poll, almost half of the workforce wants more opportunities for professional development and upskilling. Nearly three in four (74%) employees are eager to learn new things outside of work hours to improve their job performance.
Based on the competency gaps you identified in talent mapping, as well as employees’ areas of interests, you can offer upskilling and reskilling opportunities to bring your organization closer to its long-term goals.
When you demonstrate to your employees that you are invested in their growth and future success, you’re more likely to get the same back from them. Research has shown that companies investing $1,500 or more per employee per year on training average 24% higher profit margins than companies who invest less. It’s clear that organizations who aren’t investing in developing their workforce are on a slippery slope.
#3: Commit to change with a long-term strategy, transparency and accountability
Changing your organization’s culture and improving engagement won’t happen overnight. It’s important to establish systems that will consistently reinforce your employee value proposition and collect feedback to measure success.
A few ways you might regularly provide updates to employees, and solicit their feedback include:
- Quarterly surveys that score employee engagement and identify areas of focus
- Quarterly town halls or all-hands meetings that discuss survey findings, and actions leadership is taking to address them
- Always-on talent mapping exercises between recruitment, HR and business unit leadership
- Office hours with executives that offer employees the chance to ask questions in a more intimate setting
- Regular lunch-and-learns for large groups of employees to learn about an initiative that the company is implementing, or to co-create better learning pathways as a team.
Unlock untapped potential by addressing the quiet quitting movement
The future of your workforce is in your hands. Shifting your mindset away from employee monitoring and surveillance toward building a culture of continuous learning and professional growth can lead to lasting results, and better organizational performance.
Are you interested in learning more about ways you can invest in your team through upskilling and re-skilling? Get in touch with us today to find out how.