Gallup recently sounded the alarm on the employee engagement crisis. A survey revealed that nearly 60% of 120,000 of the world’s workers are quiet quitting or not engaging, and 18% are actively disengaged, which Gallup labeled as loud quitting.

This is a surprise to the public, but Human Resources professionals saw this coming. In the State of HR survey, they listed employee engagement as their number one priority and burnout as the biggest challenge. In 2022, employees had returned to pre-pandemic levels of engagement before media attention turned to quiet quitting. This was a phrase used to describe people setting boundaries with their employees, sticking to a fixed schedule, and meeting requirements of their job without going above and beyond.

What Is Loud Quitting?

In the early days of quiet quitting, many in HR rolled their eyes because this was nothing new and workers have a right to set boundaries. Not everyone has to be ambitious. Sometimes, it’s just about fulfilling basic duties to earn that paycheck.

Loud quitting is distinctly different. It’s akin to burning bridges, which HR Exchange Network does not recommend in any instance. Workers simply don’t know if their paths will ever cross with these employers, HR professionals, or colleagues again. It breeds a lack of trust and can mar one’s reputation. Gallup uses this definition to describe loud quitting:

“These employees take actions that directly harm the organization, undercutting its goals and opposing its leaders. At some point along the way, the trust between employee and employer was severely broken. Or the employee has been woefully mismatched to a role, causing constant crises.”

This is a serious charge. At a time when the world is grappling with an uncertain economy, and the World Bank warned that businesses may be facing a decade of decline without economic growth, this news is even more disturbing. After all, Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion and accounts for 9% of global GDP. Imagine how that plays out in one company.

How Should HR Respond?

Human Resources must pay close attention to employee engagement and experience. This is a challenging time for everyone. People are experiencing anxiety that lingers from the pandemic and is exacerbated by financial concerns. In addition, many companies, especially in the tech sector, are conducting layoffs, hiring freezes, budget cuts, and restructuring. This means those who are still employed are taking on more work, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed at best and burnout at worst.

Admit You Have a Problem

Human Resources must be attentive to what’s happening with employees. Using feedback surveys allows HR to hear from workers and recognize if there are problems. However, even without feedback surveys, HR professionals can use their eyes and ears to recognize if people are being overworked, having issues with managers and colleagues, or simply checking out.

Maintain Focus on Mental Health and Wellness

In the Gallup survey, 44% of workers said they experienced a lot of stress the previous day. The circumstances of work today by themselves are causing anxiety. Therefore, mental health and wellness benefits must remain a priority. Employees have come to expect companies to show their care and concern by providing them with the means to tend to their physical and mental health. When employers are asking people to do more with less, they should be prepared to help them deal with the consequences.

Keep an Eye on DEI Efforts

In the last year, diversity and inclusion programs have taken a hit. Employers laid off DEI leaders or cut resources. But DEI is vital to employee engagement. Providing people with that sense of belonging and making them feel heard and valued, which are all part of any decent DEI program, are essential to keeping people engaged.

Help Managers Be Better

Many in HR have said, “People quit managers, not jobs!” This mantra is often said because it is true. In fact, Gallup suggests that HR address this engagement crisis by focusing on top talent and giving them better managers. The fact is that HR has been asking much of managers these days.

In addition to ensure tasks get done, projects are completed, and results improve, they also must show empathy, help people with their wellness and well-being, and encourage a culture of inclusiveness. These are not easy tasks, and many never get training or help meeting these goals. Training managers on both hard and soft skills prepares them for the new expectations of employees and positions them to garner more engagement.

By Francesca DiMeglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

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