Quiet quitting — a term that went viral thanks to TikToker Zaid Khan in a video romanticizing the work/life balance — refers to the idea of not outright quitting your job but quitting the idea of going above and beyond.
But to Workhuman CFO Scott Dussault, this idea is not new at all — “quiet quitting is just a new phrase for disengaged employees,” he told CFO Dive. Disengaged employees and lost productivity is almost a half a trillion dollar problem in the U.S. alone, according to data from the Workhuman and Gallup Employee Wellbeing Report released Thursday.
“There's been a renewed focus in enterprise organizations on the employee and there has been a focus where there hasn't been in the past on disengaged employees,” said Dussault, the finance chief at the human capital management SaaS provider.
There is a $322 billion cost associated with global turnover and lost productivity, according to the report that surveyed 12,000 employees. Moreover, organizations are losing $20 million for every 10,000 employees annually due to poor employee wellbeing and the drain that the issue has on performance.
Dussault outlined three tips on how the CFO should interpret this data and head off employee disengagement:
1. Build a strong CFO/CHRO partnership
“I'm partnered more now than ever with the chief human resources officer (CHRO),” said Dussault in an interview.
“Ten years ago, a lot of organizations’ budgets were allocated to the CIO and they were charged with cybersecurity issues, now you are seeing that shift being focused on the CHRO,” said Dussault. The shift really came after the pandemic, he said, “as employers are trying to understand how they can improve their culture and increase connectedness and engagement, and in turn, reduce turnover.”
To avoid employee disengagement, employers need to make sure they’re investing in employee engagement and collaboration with the CHRO is the key to doing that economically and effectively.
2. Give your workers what they really want: recognition
Employees that are being recognized at work are 10 times as likely to strongly agree that they belong in their organization. Conversely, employees who lack a strong sense of belonging are 12 times as likely to be disengaged and five times as likely to look for another job, the study found.
“These findings to me are not just soft findings that can improve culture, they're hard dollar findings that increase company bottom line,” said Dussault. “People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their companies, their managers and their experience,” he said.
Tactics to get folks back into the office after the pandemic such as free lunch is not the sort of strategy that always works when it comes to increased employee engagement, he said.
“What makes an employee happy at work is not snacks in the break room or free lunches or a massage therapist coming in on Wednesday, it is the acknowledgment of meaningful work,” said Dussault. “When you've got an employee who feels like their company doesn't care about their contributions, you can have all the cake and ice cream in that snack room and they're still going to leave,” he said.
The current macroeconomic climate has proven that we are in an employees market and a Pearl Meyer’s survey of corporate leadership earlier this year indicated that up to one-third of companies are feeling the pressure to pay more at the mid-year mark.
“Salary is undoubtedly an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping employees happy. When employees are fairly compensated, they’re often more engaged and have boosted morale. However, we should not look at salary as the end all and be all of employee compensation," said Dussault in an email to CFO Dive.
But, if employees were recognized the day before, they were four times more likely to come in the next day and feel like they're more connected and committed to their organization, the report said.
“A culture of recognition has a flywheel effect of retaining employees, and also attracting the right employees,” said Dussault. “It is more than just a pat on the back and an ‘atta boy,’” he said. “Recognition has to be authentic. It has to be personalized, and it has to be equitable.”
“It is pretty remarkable and exciting to see how recognition programs can impact these numbers and bring costs down,” said Dussault.
3. Make your employees your brand ambassadors
Employee recognition, employee engagement and reducing turnover and talent retention costs are all interconnected, said Dussault. “A strong culture is infectious,” he added.
CFOs and other financial decision-makers pointed to staffing, hiring and employee retention as the main challenges they’re facing when looking to grow their business, according to previous reporting from CFO Dive. When employees are satisfied with the work they are doing and where they are doing it, they attract new employees, said Dussault.
“When you build a program that's strategic, you'll start to see the benefits run wild — engagement, retention and so on, so it’s important.”