For organizations to succeed, employee engagement matters. Gallup data reveals a decline in employees who feel their employers care about their wellbeing and in engagement levels. Between 2020 to 2022, scores dropped from 36% to 32%—the lowest in a decade.
A disengaged employee isn’t always going to walk out the door. A more damaging possibility is that they’ll stay in their roles but perform to the least of their abilities rather than the most—a growing trend termed “quiet quitting”.
What Is Quiet Quitting—And Why Does it Matter?
Quiet quitting describes employees who are disconnected from their organization and their work. While still fulfilling their duties, they’re unlikely to go above and beyond or proactively seek out new tasks and projects.
Gallup research shows that over 50% of the US workforce meet the criteria for quiet quitters—they’re the ones who report being neither engaged nor actively disengaged at work.
Some signs of quiet quitting include:
- Reduced productivity
- A lack of drive and motivation
- Less emotional investment in their work
While quiet quitting is a new term, the concept isn’t. Organizations will lose talent if they don’t prioritize employee engagement, fail to understand people’s needs, and don’t encourage a healthy work-life balance.
There’s a difference between those who log off on time and maintain a healthy work-life balance and those who are consistently disinterested and lack purpose. If a company makes employees feel they can’t enjoy time off or should be going the extra mile regularly without recognition or reward, they stand on dangerous ground. No company should wholly depend on employees’ goodwill to meet goals.
How to Handle Employee Disengagement
It’s down to companies to create an environment that inspires employees to be their best. The first step to driving engagement is understanding what your people care about and then reflecting these priorities in your culture.
LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report shows that employees who rate their workplace culture highly are 25% more likely to be happy at work. Some of the top listed drivers of exceptional company culture include:
- Learning and development opportunities
- Organizational values and belonging
- Support for wellbeing
When you put your people first, value their contributions, and listen to their feedback you show your people you care. Through regular communication and feedback, it’s easy to turn insight into actionable change.
CREATE A CULTURE OF LEARNING | ‘Learning to Adapt: How to Put Learning and Development at the Heart of Your Company’s Culture’
Steps to Prevent Quiet Quitting
Once you’re aware of what’s driving engagement—or what’s driving it away—there are a number of simple ways to sound out your employees and make change:
1) Put Learning and Development at the Heart of Your Culture
Poorly thought-out perks and benefits will do little to engage your people and motivate them long-term. To keep people happy and productive, you’ve got to invest in them.
Employees should be encouraged to consider their long-term career goals and the skills they want to learn as early as onboarding so you can provide learning and development tailored to their needs. Give learners the chance to practice and review their skills through regular skills assessments and performance reviews. Show employees your organization values their growth by aligning learning and performance goals and give them the flexibility to learn when and where suits them best.
Leaders play an important role in promoting your culture and can reinforce it through regularly communicating the importance of training, sharing knowledge, and creating ongoing training opportunities.
RELATED READING | ‘How Learning and Performance Can Connect, Align, and Grow Your Organization’
2) Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Communicating and enforcing a healthy work-life balance is about establishing boundaries between personal and professional lives. Remind employees to log off at reasonable times, take vacation leave, and use sick days if needed. If your employees are in different locations, be mindful of time zones when they send messages and emails. Don’t expect replies to emails long after the working day is done.
Managers can reinforce work-life balance with realistic expectations of what employees should bring to the table and be available to discuss issues. They can also create meaningful change by starting conversations about health and wellbeing, fine-tuning their empathy and listening skills, and prioritizing social interactions and activities away from the office with their teams.
FIND OUT HOW TO CREATE AN EMPLOYEE WELLBEING STRATEGY | ‘How to Boost Employee Wellbeing in the Workplace’
3) Keep Conversations Flowing
One of the best ways to make your people feel heard is to start listening. Conversations about performance and status updates are crucial for success, but for employees to be engaged, they need to know that managers care. Regular one-on-ones provide the chance to build trust and discuss wellbeing and development needs. Managers understand employees better than most, so they’re well-placed to offer support and guidance when needed.
Anonymous engagement surveys are also a great way to understand how employees feel and to make actionable changes based on feedback.
MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION | ‘4 Ways to Create a Culture of Conversation for Your Organization’
4) Help Employees Realize Their Goals
McKinsey research finds that career development and advancement is one of the top-rated elements of employee experience. Over 60% left roles in the past because they weren’t offered opportunities to develop or reach their goals. Clear and actionable performance goals give employees a sense of purpose and help them see their impact. When employees have the chance to discuss their career ambitions and what they value most, you can help them achieve personal goals that align with organizational objectives.
Identify the skills employees need to achieve their goals and create personalized development plans to connect them with relevant training. You want your people to take charge of their training, but be sure to schedule manager one-on-ones, skills assessments, and performance reviews throughout the learning journey to maintain a supportive environment and keep them on track.
5) Recognize and Reward Hard Work
Don’t let hard work and dedication go unnoticed. When your organization recognizes and rewards great work and performance, it shows employees they’re valued. It’s also a great way to illustrate what success looks like.
Acknowledging their efforts doesn’t just mean through financial incentives or fun perks. You need to know what makes each employee feel appreciated and personalize communication and feedback to their needs. Some will appreciate a shoutout from a high-level leader during a company meeting, while others will prefer a quiet word of praise from a manager. However it’s done, recognition from peers, managers, and leaders creates loyalty.
6) Keep Workloads Manageable
Employees who face unmanageable workloads and take on too much can’t sustain the same level of productivity forever. Deloitte’s Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Surveyfinds that 46% of employees admit they feel stressed and burned out due to the intensity and demands of their work environment, and 44% cited burnout as a top reason for quitting. Managers should always be aware of this during task allocation, and no employee should feel overwhelmed regularly.
If employees feel overwhelmed, it’s time to make a change. Simple steps like scheduling reminders for administrative jobs and delivering tasks to the right people at the right time can make workloads more manageable. It’s also helpful to review skills regularly. This lessens the strain on your workforce as you can deploy talent in the most effective way possible and quickly spot and fill any skills gaps that could be hindering progress.
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How Can Bridge Help?
Bridge gives you the power to create employee experiences that matter. Design and deliver purpose-driven training and development courses to engage, inspire, and develop your employees’ skills. Drive engagement and performance through regular feedback, conversations, and goal alignment.