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Loud quitting turns volume up on employee engagement challenge

July 27, 2023

Unless your workplace is a perfect zen paradise, it’s more than likely that you will experience points of friction during your day job.

These are the interactions, experiences and situations that trigger feelings of stress and frustration. In many cases, they will be accepted as part of the ebb and flow of normal working life, and they will quickly be forgotten about.

In some other cases, however, they can become a bigger cause for concern.

If a sense of discontent is left to fester and grow, for example, an individual can become increasingly disengaged. Worse still is when this disengagement leads to a breakdown in the relationship between employer and employee altogether, and the individual actively adopts an anti-company stance, working against the interests of the organisation and causing disruption from within.

This extreme scenario is what is meant by the term ‘loud quitting’, and it is a phenomenon investigated in the 2023 State of the Global Workplace report produced by research and insight firm Gallup. The company’s research suggests that almost on in five (18%) of employees across the world are either loudly quitting or actively disengaged from their role.

Pulling in the wrong direction

Loud quitters are defined as those working against their own employer’s goals, pulling in the opposite direction from engaged members of the team. As you might expect, the majority (61%) are in the process of searching for another job, and when they leave, they are more likely to do it in a dramatic and indiscreet fashion.

As such, these employees can be seen to pose a real risk to employers from both an operational and reputational perspective. At the same time, there are also implications for the wellbeing of the affected employee, with loud quitters almost twice as likely to say they feel “a lot of stress” on a daily basis when compared with an engaged employee.

Loud quitting is the latest in a line of buzzwords describing trends among the post-pandemic workforce. It follows on from ‘quiet quitting’, which surfaced in 2022 as a term for employees who are content to perform their role at the most perfunctory level, rejecting any expectation to go above and beyond for their employer in terms of their effort or working hours.

It is thought that ‘quiet quitting’ has its roots in the ‘lying flat’ movement observed among workers in China who made a point of rebelling against relentless long hours and extreme dedication to the corporate cause.

Remarkably, Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report suggests that nearly six in ten employees fit the description of a quiet quitter in that they are present in the physical sense but psychologically detached from their work. And, together with their loud quitting colleagues, they are thought to cost the global economy as much as $8.8 trillion.

Addressing the issue of engagement

While very different in their presentations, loud quitting and quiet quitting share a common symptom: lack of engagement on the part of the employee. Addressing this problem is not an easy task. Indeed, it is possible that some employees are so resolutely entrenched in their position that they are unwilling to reconnect at any meaningful level.

Of course, that is not the case for all ‘quitters’, and there are various approaches that employers can take in their efforts to reach out to the workforce.

As with all matters concerning engagement, good communication is key. On the one hand this means speaking to staff to let them know about the support mechanisms and resources that are available to them. On the other, it means listening – letting staff know there are people to talk to and platforms available for them to share their comments and concerns.

Prising these channels open makes it possible for employees to air their grievances and share the issues at the root of their frustration. This opens the door for further discussion and resolution, which can in turn lead to a sense of appreciation and the potential for rebuilding trust and respect.

Indeed, it’s possible to see ‘quitters’ of both types as ripe for converting into engaged employees if the source of their discontent can be discovered. Whether it’s a case of working through the frustrations of loud quitters or finding the means to motivate quiet quitters, investing time and energy into valued individuals can pay dividends in the long run in terms of improved loyalty, productivity and positivity among the team.


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