Last year, a record number of Americans left their jobs during the Great Resignation. Then in 2022, some employees who did stay began to coast through their workdays with little enthusiasm or effort. These “quiet quitters” have us scratching our heads: What will be the next workplace trend? And how can we future-proof our businesses to weather these challenges?
Instead of taking a reactionary approach, it’s our job as business leaders to create a supportive and fulfilling work environment where employees feel motivated to come to work every day and contribute.
So how do you get there? To create that ideal workplace blueprint, start by understanding exactly how employees are feeling.
Quiet quitting and workplace discontent: Where do we stand now?
The current pulse on workplace satisfaction and engagement is varied. Fast Company reports: “A recent ResumeBuilder survey found that while the vast majority of people (74%) go above and beyond at work, 26% admit they do the bare minimum—or less. Most of those folks reported feeling burned out.”
Younger employees report more overall stress and work-related burnout than older generations. Sixty-eight percent of Gen Z and younger millennials report feeling stress a lot of the time. (Gallup). Stress and burnout influence job performance and long-term career growth. What’s more, burnout is associated with physical health risks and poor personal relationships, which cause many employees to leave their jobs.
According to O.C. Tanner, nearly 1 in 3 employees don’t feel fulfilled at work, which makes them:
- 399% more likely to actively look for another job
- 47% less likely to put in a great deal of effort to help the organization succeed
- 71% less likely to promote the organization as a great place to work
Recent data supports what we already know: Employees want to feel engaged, satisfied, and valued at work. Now more than ever, striking a healthy balance between home/personal life and work is essential: Sixty-five percent of millennials rate greater work-life balance and better personal well-being as “very important” when considering a new job. (Gallup) Even more telling: Millennials’ desire for work-life balance is almost as significant as their desire for an increase in pay or benefits.
How to reduce workplace burnout and boost employee engagement.
Flipping the narrative on quiet quitting is creating a workplace where people are engaged and excited about the work they’re doing and the contributions they’re making. Here are a few ideas:
Prioritize employee happiness.
Studies show that happy employees tend to miss less work, perform better, and support company innovations. When employees are happy, company profits are much higher, and turnover is much lower.
Happy employees also tend to be more loyal and engaged in their work, which leads to more focused and mindful behaviors. Fast Company summarizes the employee engagement advantage like this: “Engagement is active. And when individuals are engaged, they invest their personal, cognitive, emotional, and physical energies into their work.”
While it’s ultimately a personal choice for employees to find happiness in their work, creating a supportive and engaging culture is fundamental to attracting and retaining the best talent—so be sure it’s on your radar.
Gauge workplace engagement & satisfaction.
As employers, it’s our charge to assess our workplace environment and culture and then make actionable changes to improve areas where we might fall short. There are many ways to gather that information: An employee survey, meeting with individuals or focus groups, or tapping into a third-party resource.
Microsoft offers an online tool: The Employee Engagement Assessment helps you to identify your company’s strengths and areas for improvement, then create a plan that supports your employees and business outcomes.
Make well-being part of your culture.
Gallup says that “when an organization makes wellness a priority of its culture and provides resources for employees to live healthier lives, employees, in turn, take better care of themselves, which benefits employers.” Gallup outlines these best-practice actions to improve employee well-being and reduce burnout:
- Make managers responsible for addressing burnout. One way to do this is to encourage managers to solicit employee feedback: Ask for their input often, be receptive to what they tell you, and ask follow-up questions. Then track goals and feedback over time and check in to see where things stand.
- Set role expectations and structure jobs to make work more manageable and engaging. Ensure that workload and time pressures are reasonable—but also be sure employees understand that extra time and effort are sometimes required to get the job done. We’ve all been there!
- Encourage teamwork and shared accountability. When people work together and support one another, the workload gets lighter, and challenges seem smaller.
- Design ideal environments that are as comfortable and inviting. Employees need spaces for gathering and getting away from the buzz—a lounge, breakroom, patio, etc.
- Make well-being part of your culture. At Shamrock, we organize regular group exercise opportunities and share weekly wellness tips through our Wellness Wednesdays program—simple and easy-to-implement efforts that reinforce the things that matter most to us.
A final thought about quiet quitting.
For those who choose to see challenges through a positive lens, the Great Resignation and quiet quitting create opportunities to be better. By prioritizing change, assessing your current workplace culture, and then taking actionable steps to improve, you’ll create a healthier, happier workplace that will motivate and inspire your team.