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I I don’t know about you, but I started reading angrily about Request for Anger. I did not silently bemoan my “quiet take off”. And if another email hits my inbox about “quiet hiring” or some other supposed trend, it goes straight to my junk folder.
After three years of pandemic-induced remote work, record numbers of resignations, mounting burnout, and now mass layoffs, I feel there needs to be a name for the stress, labor turnover, and disruption of the past few years. In fact, that may be why — not to mention the constant cycle of journalists, social media posts and PR people repeating and recirculating these terms — we won’t stop making up words about the business, Vox’s Rani Mulla wrote recently.
But talk to anyone who leads HR teams, and you’ll get a quick peep–and ear full–when you bring up any of them. People have always applied for new jobs—and yes, many at once—out of frustration with their current jobs. “Quiet Hiring” is repackaging internal mobility—which may seem like a wicked way to avoid bringing on new employees, but it can also help rehire underutilized people who might be laid off.
“Why [these terms] always have to be anagrams? Why do they have to be two words? “I think we like short connections,” Paul Rubinstein, Visier’s chief personnel officer, said in a recent interview. “None of them are really unique.”
Certainly, participation is less than it used to be. Employee engagement arbitrator Gallup released its latest numbers on Wednesday, and it’s seeing a further drop in the data. In 2021, employee engagement in the US saw its first annual decline in a decade, dropping from 36% of employees being “engaged” (which is defined as a measure of employee engagement and enthusiasm in their work) to 34% in 2021.
And that has continued through 2022, Gallup reported Wednesday, with only 32% of full- and part-time employees engaged. The percentage of employees who were “disengaged” increased by two percentage points from 2021. Younger workers, women, and people whose jobs could be done remotely but were required to be on site every day — no surprise there — saw the biggest drop in engagement.
But while the numbers have gotten worse – and they may be worse than they have been in a decade – it’s not like they weren’t here before. Gallup data shows that 32% remains above the line for the number of “engaged” workers between 2000 and 2013, with some years down in the mid-20s on a percentage basis.
“People have been checking it out and getting burnt out at various points in their careers forever — forever,” Amy Zimmerman, chief personnel officer for Relay Payments, told me recently. “It’s just the whole concept of engagement” – or disengagement.
The real question, of course, is which way the line will go from here. If a bad recession worsens people’s relationships with their jobs, and the line drops consistently below where participation has bounced over the past 20 years, perhaps something fundamental has changed, and merits a new term. If it stays the same, or the threat of a recession reminds people that doing the bare minimum may not help keep their jobs, I’m not sure.
In the meantime, let’s try to stop repeating these respectful terms. In a time of mass layoffs, ongoing gun violence, and mental health concerns, workers—and the people who lead them—have bigger issues to focus on. Yes, companies fill jobs with temporary workers or reassign people to the jobs they need most. People suffer from burnout and stay busy with their jobs. And workers are now tired—and always will be—of looking for other jobs when their current job isn’t finished. We don’t need a catchy name to talk about.
The new benefit for female CEOs: membership in this exclusive group
The CEO of the Women’s Network is launching a new offering aimed at corporate clients that will not only fast-track membership reviews of qualified female leaders for employers, but will also require companies to automatically foot the bill. The new service, called the head of the organization, could lead to growth in the Series B funded network — as long as employers don’t cut back on their spending on diversity commitments or leadership initiatives in the midst of an economic downturn. read more ForbesExclusive here.
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News from the world of work
Microsoft’s big bet on artificial intelligence: The maker of ChatGPT Open AI has secured a “game-changing” multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft, according to Bloomberg, as the tech giant adds to its commitment to a viral AI chatbot, which could have significant impacts on how we work.
Increased layoffs: Spotify cut 6% of jobs, and the cuts recently reached 3M, cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, Alphabet, and Wayfair. Technology stocks jumped as investors encouraged massive job cut announcements even as employees around the world grappled with a crisis over job security, a survey of 35,000 workers showed. Nearly 60,000 people were laid off in January alone as major companies ramped up cuts.
Consultant for the oval: According to multiple reports, Ron Klain, President Biden’s chief of staff, will be replaced by former Covid czar Jeff Zients. The former adviser will face the difficult task of navigating a divided Congress, mounting questions about Biden’s handling of classified documents, and advancing to the 2024 election.
Another founder passing the baton: Netflix’s Reed Hastings is stepping down as co-CEO of the streaming service after a difficult year as one of the few major tech company founders still in place leaves the top job.
Ardern’s shock resignation: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shocked the world when she announced her resignation, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do job justice in her leadership. The decision sparked a parade of commentary on women, driving and burnout — from how other women relate to the impact her connection to the pandemic might have on her career.
Expanding the semi-weekly book selection to include links, surveys, and other reads from around the web.
Deep work author f digital minimalism Calling Cal Newport talks with The New York Times About “slow productivity”, the context switching issue, and why working on a PC all day hasn’t really made workers more efficient.
Layoffs are really bad for companies, writes Bloomberg columnist Sarah Greene Carmichael, citing the surprisingly consistent research that shows downsides for employers — and people — who remain.
Jeff Pfeiffer, Professor, Stanford Business School – One of my favorite people to talk to about the mistakes companies make when managing people –Conversations with Stanford News On why so many tech workers were laid off, and the role of the “contagion” in expanding it.
Performance coach Stefan Falk released a new book on February 7, Intrinsic motivation: Learn to love your job and succeed like never beforewhich explores how becoming happier and more productive relies on finding inherent satisfaction in our work rather than external rewards.