Article: Silent Epidemic: The rise of 'quiet quitting' in the workplace

Employee Engagement

Silent Epidemic: The rise of 'quiet quitting' in the workplace

There is a significant decline in workforce satisfaction, with organisations failing to meet their employees' needs, and putting at risk the progress achieved during the pandemic.
Silent Epidemic: The rise of 'quiet quitting' in the workplace

Over half of executives (51 per cent) in Singapore report they have been affected by “quiet quitting” over the last 12 months, with nearly two in five (41 per cent) employees have been, or currently are, quietly quitting, reveals a new report by staffing firm Kelly.

As employers around the world contend with the greatest workforce disruption in generations, there is a striking disconnect between senior executives and talent, indicates the 2023 Kelly Global Re:work Report, finding that most organisations are failing to meet the needs of employees and risk erasing progress made during the pandemic.

The report, titled The Three Pillars of Workforce Resilience, uncovers how businesses are struggling to scale, retain, and develop talent - resulting in lower performance, missed business opportunities, and more disengaged employees.

Key findings in Singapore include:

Employees are ready to move on - but not for the reasons executives think. Almost one in five (18 per cent) are very likely to leave their employer in the next 12 months because of poor work-life balance and perceived lack of career opportunities. Executives, however, believe resignations could be due to inadequate compensation.

Executives do recognise they are not doing enough to meet the needs of their workforce. Less than half (47 per cent) say they are doing more to support the wellbeing of employees compared with 12 months ago, while more than one third (35 per cent) report that they are failing to unlock the full potential of their workforce.

Many employees do not experience an inclusive workplace. Approximately two in five (39 per cent) of employees report they have experienced non-inclusive behaviours at their current employer. Surprisingly, 62 per cent of global talent surveyed who say they are planning to leave their roles within 12 months also report non-inclusive behaviour in their workplace. More than a third of employees (35 per cent) disagree that they work in a “psychologically safe  environment”.

DEI initiatives by corporations have plateaued and may be dropping off – a sign of DEI fatigue. Nearly half of executives (43 per cent) recognise that their DEI strategy does not adequately support underrepresented groups. Shockingly, only about one in five executives  (19 per cent) say their organisation has a clear route for reporting discrimination at work. Only 38 per cent of talent in Singapore say that leaders in their organisation model inclusive behaviours  at all times, while 37 per cent believe their employer does not support DEI enough.

Employees see the advantages of automation and are not opposed to this change. 73 per cent of employees say automation is positive for business performance with 41 per cent saying it has been positive for employees.

Despite these challenges, the report highlighted that some organisations are thriving by focusing on three crucial pillars: workforce agility; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); and workforce capability

The report provides a framework for organisations interested in following the lead of the  “Resilience Leaders”—those building workforce resilience and achieving increased employee productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue, and profits over the past 12 months.

The Resilience Leaders constitute 12 per cent of global executive survey respondents and they are focusing on the three pillars needed to build a resilient workforce:  

Implementing strategies to build workforce agility. Leading organisations are far more likely than “laggard” organisations to say they are effective at recruiting the contingent talent required to achieve their business objectives (63 per cent versus 30 per cent).  “Laggard” organisations are not building workforce resilience and are more likely to be experiencing decreased employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and profits over the past 12 months (6 per cent of the executive survey sample).

Automating repeatable tasks to free up talent for more meaningful work and upskilling opportunities. Workforce Resilience Leaders are ahead of the pack, with 61 per cent successfully automating aspects of their business to improve workforce resilience, versus 33 per cent of laggards.

Keeping their commitments to DEI. Leading firms are more likely than laggard organisations to be focused on building inclusion – by listening to employees’ views (62 per cent versus 33 per cent), providing a living wage (70 per cent versus 51 per cent), or offering flexible and hybrid work arrangements (55 per cent versus 40 per cent). This seems to be paying dividends: they are also more likely to report that employee satisfaction and wellbeing improved over the past year (62 per cent versus 41 per cent).

Prioritising talent development and training. Resilience Leaders are more likely than laggard organisations to have implemented accelerated training programmes to quickly upskill talent (75 per cent versus 55 per cent) and are also more likely to offer career development programmes that enable employees to gain experience in other areas of the business (72 per cent versus 56 per cent).

Tammy Browning, senior vice president of Kelly said employers are struggling to meet the changing needs of talent, and risk falling behind if they don’t bridge the growing divide related to workplace expectations.

“As organisations enter a post-pandemic era,  those that prioritise building a resilient workforce by focusing on the three pillars will be better  equipped to adapt to the future of work and thrive in changing market conditions.”

Emphasising the importance of creating a purposeful workplace, Peter Hamilton, vice president and managing director APAC at KellyOCG said, “We live in an increasingly fragmented world where concerns on economic recession around labour shortage, business confidence, and workforce fatigue are looming heavily on us. Despite this uncertainty, employees in Singapore are consciously looking for new growth opportunities and fresh environments that equip them with future-forward thinking. It’s therefore important for companies to encourage the evolution of a workplace that takes on a  purposeful meaning around the areas of agility, diversity, and wellbeing.”

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, Talent Management, Leadership

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