Workplace culture has changed dramatically in recent years, and with these changes has come a fresh batch of buzzwords. Popularized on social media and permeating organizations across the country, the workplace buzzwords that have gained popularity in 2023 can offer valuable insights into the current state of the workforce. Here are a few of the more common phrases and possible responses for employers to consider.
Bare minimum Mondays
Originating on TikTok, the “Bare Minimum Mondays” trend has quickly captured the attention of millions of employees seeking respite from ongoing occupational burnout. The movement promotes a gentle start to the workweek by encouraging individuals to undertake a scaled-down workload on Mondays. By signing on later in the morning, keeping their cameras off during meetings, or deliberately working at a slower pace, participants aim to prioritize self-care and mitigate work-related burnout at the beginning of the week.
It’s not hard to see why the trend has taken off among younger workers. According to a November 2022 Gallup poll, young employees report experiencing significantly more stress and work-related burnout than older generations. According to Gallup, a whopping 68% of Gen Z and younger millennials say they feel stressed “often,” compared to just 40% of baby boomers.
On the one hand, the inclination to “take it easy” on the first day of the workweek isn’t anything new—it’s natural for employees of all ages to experience a dip in productivity after two days away from work.
However, the viral spread of the “Bare Minimum Monday” trend among millennial and Gen Z workers raises some serious concerns about a broader issue: the increased prevalence of burnout, stress, and overwhelming work conditions.
What can employers do?
Bare Minimum Mondays are partially a manifestation of a burnout workforce. Therefore one critical antidote to burnout is having increased mental health support and better work-life balance across the board.
Offering flexible work arrangements, like the increasingly popular four-day workweek, or the option to work remotely at the beginning of the week, may help employees’ morale by giving them autonomy in how they start their week, or at least sparing them an early Monday morning commute.
If employees at your organization are showing signs of burnout, it may be time to consider adding an employer-sponsored Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to your organization’s employee benefits. By streamlining counseling and mental health services, EAPs provide a straightforward avenue for employers to extend support to their workforce, addressing a range of challenges including occupational stress, burnout, substance abuse, and other mental health concerns. If your organization already has an EAP, it may be useful to remind employees of what it is and that it is available to them.
Surveys suggest EAP programs can make a significant difference in bolstering employees’ wellness and work performance: a Federal Occupational Health study revealed that workplaces that incorporated EAPs experienced a 22.8% improvement in work presenteeism and an almost 70% decrease in absenteeism.
First things first; “quiet quitting” isn’t actually quitting—it’s more like an assertion of professional boundary-setting by an increasingly disengaged workforce. To put it simply, quiet quitting describes the phenomenon of employees consciously choosing to take it easy at work, distance themselves from the pressures of “hustle culture” and generally become less likely to go above and beyond for their employer. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the United States (US) workforce.
Employees who feel unvalued, unfairly compensated, or overworked may turn to quiet quitting in order to mentally disengage from the pressures and expectations of their job and focus more on other parts of their life. Some employees may simply stop trying to exceed expectations, while others may clock in late, not participate in meetings, or produce lower-quality work.
While “quiet quitters” have always been around in the workforce, the trend has, without a doubt, become more visible since the pandemic. That makes sense, considering that during the second quarter of 2022, the proportion of “actively disengaged” employees in the US increased to 18%, up from 13% in 2019.
What can employers do?
Employers need to understand that quiet quitting is most often a means for employees to protect their mental health. By acknowledging and addressing this reality, employers can foster a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being and supports their mental health needs.
According to Sprout Social, the top reasons why employees “quiet quit” are:
- Wage cuts or threats of layoff
- Unfair expectations outside of business
- No opportunities for raises or promotions
- New employees (with less experience) being paid more
- Having a poor relationship with their manager
- Having a negative opinion of their company’s culture.
If you notice your employees showing signs of “quiet quitting,” it’s time to take a hard look at your organization’s culture and management.
In 2023, workers have made it clear that they will walk away or disengage from workplaces that don’t actively demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being. If your organization can’t provide employees with competitive compensation and benefits packages, regular opportunities for advancement, an acceptable work-life balance, and a communicative workplace culture—don’t be surprised if your workforce begins to tune out entirely.
On the other side of quiet quitting is quiet hiring—where employers delegate additional tasks or job responsibilities to existing employees that go beyond their job descriptions. In doing so, employers seek to avoid the expenses and time commitments associated with recruiting and training new hires.
Since payroll costs are consistently the largest expense for organizations, employers often resort to “stealth hiring” as a strategy to expand their organization’s offerings without adding to their bottom line. In the face of an ongoing labor shortage, a potential recession, and millions of open positions in 2023—quiet hiring has become an appealing option for employers who want to fill roles while avoiding a drawn-out recruitment process. According to a February 2023 survey from global employment website Monster, 8 out of 10 workers have been “quiet hired” or coerced into taking on the responsibilities of a role separate from theirs either short-term or permanently.
Quiet hiring can go one of two ways: employees may feel excited and inspired by the opportunity to learn new skills and expand their contribution to their organization—or they’ll feel overwhelmed and frustrated by their organization’s management.
According to Monster’s survey, 41% of workers would view their company as disorganized and having an unclear vision if they were “quiet hired,” while more than a quarter (27%) of workers say they’d wonder whether their company was going out of business.
What employers can do?
The success of quiet hiring ultimately comes down to how the process is managed by employers.
To successfully integrate employees’ roles, employers can’t shy away from investing in proper training to ensure that employees are prepared to take on their expanded responsibilities. Moreover, if your organization is considering “quiet hiring,” it’s critical to identify members of your workforce who are already willing to go above and beyond, or who have already expressed interest in taking on more responsibility. Workplace leaders also need to be transparent and intentional about communicating changes to job roles, and give employees plenty of time to ask questions and give input before pushing them to take on more work.
Finally—it should go without saying that compensation is key. If you’re expanding your employee’s roles, their compensation needs to properly reflect that.
The Great Resignation
In the Spring of 2021, a peculiar phenomenon emerged: despite a recovering economy and a strong labor market, US workers began voluntarily quitting their jobs at an unprecedented rate. By November 2021, the quit rate in the US reached a 20-year high. By the end of the year, over 40 million Americans had left their employers to find new jobs that offered better pay, flexibility, and stability.
The pandemic dramatically changed the world, prompting employees across sectors to reassess their career and life priorities. Factors such as return-to-office mandates, enticing job offers from competing employers, and a quest for improved work-life balance have driven many workers to embrace the trend of job hopping, which refers to employees changing their employment more frequently in search of better opportunities.
While the labor market churn was triggered by the pandemic, elevated quit rates have continued into 2023.
What can employers do?
In 2023, the data is clear: employees who quit their jobs aren’t simply leaving the labor market—they’re taking job offers from competing employers who can offer better wages, more flexible work environments, and more opportunities for advancement.
Having the option to work remotely is mandatory for a majority of US employees—and employers who don’t offer flexible work arrangements risk losing their employees to those who can. Additionally, having a competitive compensation strategy, integrating career development programs, and prioritizing paid leave or child care subsidies can make the difference between employees hopping to the next job, or staying on board for the long run. You can read more on how employers can mitigate the Great Resignation here.
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The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.
(Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)