What’s next for HR — after Quiet Quitting has gone completely silent?
Sure, the Quiet Quitters are still in your organization — and they might have checked out for a while — but many are ready to check back in and be engaged where they are now.
But they might not jump at the opportunities (at first, at least). Only about a third of employees are fully engaged at work right now, according to Gallup’s most recent ratings. And almost 20% are actively disengaged (they’re still on that Quiet Quitting side of the fence).
Rebound after Quiet Quitting
But employee engagement can rebound if you grab the opportunity and run with it.
“Organizations can improve job growth opportunities, on-the-job training, career path discussions and employee benefits,” says Abraham Gonzales-Pollick, VP of Client Development at Vensure Employer Services, “but really getting to the root of why people want to stay and strategizing action around that sentiment is a game changer if you do it sooner and frequently.”
Here are seven ways to re-engage employees:
1. Make them matter
Employees are more productive, work harder, stay at companies longer and are willing to pass up higher pay if they find meaning in their work, according to research from BetterUp Labs.
“People are at the center of a businesses’ success — they matter tremendously — but leaders can often fall short when it comes to fostering meaning and purpose in the context of work,” says Dr. Jacinta Jiménez, PsyD, Vice President of Coaching Innovation at BetterUp and author of The Burnout Fix.
One way to increase making them matter: Connect individual work with organizational impact. Regularly help employees see and understand how their everyday duties impact the company, colleagues and clients.
“This can look like maps to show individual contributors the impact of their work on different teams and key metrics, frequent ‘connecting the dots’ between team activities and organizational outcomes, coaching managers and individuals to identify the widest range of impact — from interpersonal impact with colleagues to professional growth to informal leadership accomplishments, and affirming impact as a regular component of performance reviews,” says Jiménez.
Quiet Quitters and those who are generally disengaged are likely checked out of everything. They went through the motions, choosing to forget their purpose and the company’s vision.
It’s likely time for a reset on all of that.
“Re-share the vision and goals that everyone should be working toward. Review the tools, resources and processes to get the jobs done,” says Gonzales-Pollick. “Go back to the drawing board and take a fresh look at employee engagement programs to ensure there are initiatives in place to communicate and demonstrate where employees are thriving or struggling.”
If you have it, look at your internal data about productivity and barriers to it.
“Get a pulse on what people know or understand about the key focus areas for the month,” says Gonzales-Pollick. “The goal here is to ensure employees feel valued, feel that they belong and feel like they are having an impact on the future of the organization.”
3. Amp up training
People who’ve been disengaged probably haven’t done much — or anything — to improve their skills, knowledge and career. Now’s the time to offer more learning opportunities so they can get back in the game.
“Numerous studies have shown the key to motivating employees is offering opportunities for learning and career growth,” says Gonzales-Pollick. “This can vary by organization and by person, so it’s vital that a feedback loop is created between management and employees to ensure there aren’t any gaps and that organizations are addressing what the employees are saying they need.”
But recognize: Some employees may not take advantage of learning opportunities. Forcing them to participate might lead to deeper disengagement. Still, make certain they understand that the lack of development can affect their careers.
Beyond mattering at work, disengaged employees probably need to know they’re appreciated. Appreciation and recognition come best from direct managers.
“Managers can ensure that co-workers regularly see and value an employee’s contributions,” says Jiménez. “Managers can look at existing norms within their organization and see where they can implement opportunities for recognition. This might be a company-wide email or a moment at the end of a meeting to call out colleagues who went above and beyond.”
The third part of mattering at work is achievement.
“It’s more private than recognition as it means that employees feel their work directly contributes to their organization’s success,” says Jiménez. “Employees build agency through achieving at work.”
Front line managers can help by providing and being a resource for success. “Actively listening, encouraging and being a sounding board are effective ways to help employees achieve on a regular basis,” says Jiménez.
6. Encourage some responsibility
You can’t spoon feed engagement to employees: To be fully engaged, they’ll need to take some responsibility.
If you don’t have a formal engagement assessment, ask employees to informally assess their own. If it’s low — or they just feel they want to get involved again — encourage them to heed this advice from Octavia Goredema, a career coach and the author of Prep, Push, Pivot: Essential Career Strategies for Underrepresented Women, in the Harvard Business Review:
- Refocus on your professional reputation
- Determine your career commitments by asking yourself, What do I want to be known for at work? (perhaps it’s enthusiasm, great communication skills, reliability or ability to work well under pressure)
- Decide if those are new skills you need to learn or old ones you need to fine-tune, and
- Commit to an action plan to bring these skills to life, focusing on small improvements, rather than sweeping changes.
7. Draw the line
“Keep in mind that there will be cases where employees who are disengaged may stay that way. Or some employees may not be the right fit for the future, no matter how strong the leader or manager is or the steps your organization takes to be inclusive and create a great workplace,” says Gonzales-Pollick.
That’s when it’s time to determine the best fit for the employee going forward.