First It Was Quiet Quitting, Now Workers Are Facing Off With Their Bosses | Kanebridge News
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First It Was Quiet Quitting, Now Workers Are Facing Off With Their Bosses

Employee frustrations impact productivity and worker retention, Gallup says

By LINDSAY ELLIS
Wed, Jun 14, 2023 7:30amGrey Clock 3 min

More and more Americans aren’t feeling great at work.

Half of workers aren’t engaged on the job, putting in minimal effort to get by, according to research by Gallup released Tuesday. Employee engagement in the U.S. declined for the second year in a row. There is also a growing share of the workforce that is disengaged, or resentful that their needs aren’t being met. In some cases, these workers are disgruntled over low pay and long hours, or they have lost trust in their employers.

“Employers are just not as in touch with employees,” said Jim Harter, chief workplace scientist at Gallup and lead author on the report. Some of the recent shift in attitude stems from workers having unclear expectations from their managers.

Workers’ frustrations have been building since 2021, after Gallup-measured U.S. worker-engagement levels hit their highest level on record in 2020. In the spring and summer of 2020, as Covid-19 spread and there was social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, executives at many companies had town halls and listening sessions with employees, communicating organisational mission and keeping workplace relationships strong.

This year, more companies are trying to bring workers back to offices as bosses fret about worker productivity and loyalty.

Gallup surveyed more than 60,000 people in the U.S. to compile the report, which has tracked Americans’ sentiment about their jobs since 2000, and says engaged workers are more productive and tend to stay at their jobs for longer.

“If you feel like your employer isn’t giving you what you need to do your work, you’re going to be much less loyal—and looking for other work,” said Harter.

The remote work divide

Gallup’s findings come amid backlash from workers, many of whom have recently stepped up protests against in-office requirements as companies change pandemic-era policies.

Workers at insurer Farmers Group called to unionise, and some pledged to quit after a new chief executive said he would require most workers to be in-office three days a week. Amazon.com workers demonstrated at lunch recently against a hybrid-work policy with three days in the office a week.

An employee’s relationship with a direct boss is more important to engagement than where people work, said Harter. One way to build these connections is for managers to have meaningful conversations with their employees, preferably at least once a week.

Working on trust

Many employees see shifts away from flexible schedules and remote work options as a signal that executives don’t trust them to do their jobs outside of the office. Others say benefits to remote work they experienced during the pandemic, including more time with family and cutting back commutes, are now critical to their happiness.

The employers making more in-office work a requirement are, in part, motivated by trying to bolster workers’ loyalty, which they correlate with longer retention, said Katy George, a senior partner and chief people officer at McKinsey & Co.

Kyle Pflueger, 34 years old, was hired in 2020 to work remotely as a product manager. He met his co-workers in person just a few times over the years and never felt fully connected to his work or colleagues, but as the breadwinner for his family, he needed the pay, retirement benefits and health insurance.

Pflueger left his full-time job this month to focus on his independent projects.

“I wasn’t feeling particularly happy with the work that I was doing,” he said. He now works full time for himself, building and maintaining websites for businesses.

Looking for less stress

Workers also said they were more stressed this year than last, according to Gallup’s survey. American workers are among the most stressed, tied with workers in Canada and parts of East Asia.

Workplace stressors include low salaries, long hours and a lack of opportunity for advancement, according to an October report from the U.S. Surgeon General. The report also warned that workplace stress can be bad for mental health, disrupt sleep and raise one’s vulnerability to infection.

Michele Spilberg Hart, who directs marketing for a Boston-area health nonprofit, said that she has told her staff to take time off when they aren’t feeling well mentally or physically. Their work isn’t life-or-death, and taking breaks can help people come back with more energy and better ideas, she said.

“They cannot do good work and be healthy if they’re not taking care of themselves first,” she said. “If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody else will.”



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