Jobs – Recruiting – Quiet Quitting – Productivity: Today’s Workplace Challenges

jobs, productivity, recruiting, job search, employee training, professional development, communication, soft skills

by Loralyn Mears, PhD

Before we look forward to 2023, let’s look backward.

The past three years have been fraught with disruptions. The world was turned upside down by the spikey little virus that will go down in infamy for changing just about everything in the world as we knew it. We saw record numbers of people exit stage left from their jobs with The Great Resignation: 48 million people quit in 2021, and another 46 million quit in 2022. Plus, approximately 4 million people are still quitting each month. Everyone (well, almost everyone) became accustomed to working from home in their yoga pants. So, it was hardly surprising to see employees lash out against their employers with mandates to return to the office.

People became noticeably unsettled. Mental health issues spiked where about one in five (19.6%) adults in the USA have been diagnosed with mental illness. Suicide rates continue to climb and is now the 12th leading cause of death in the USA: for every suicide completed, there are 20 attempts.

Toxic Workplace is Trending and That is Not Good

Russia launched a war of aggression in February 2022 against the Ukraine and put most of the free world on high alert. For nearly one year, analysts have been closely monitoring political tensions and nuclear activity. Not to mention the havoc wreaked on the world with inflation, supply chain interruptions, and an overall economic uncertainty.

Then there’s the matter of the growing disenchantment in the workplace. Violence in the workplace is nothing new, but it’s reached shocking levels. Human resource experts estimate that at least 25% of incidents go unreported which makes the 2 million incidents recorded each year in the USA all the more mind-blowing. MIT Sloan conducted a study last year and revealed that the #1 reason people quit is because of a toxic work culture. When you review the staggering number of people who left their jobs in 2021-2022, that equates to a whole lot of toxicity. Yikes!

Productivity Continues to Decline

Productivity took a nosedive in 2022. According to a Gallup poll conducted last year, nearly eight trillion ($7.8 T), and yes, that’s a “T,” is lost each year globally because employees are disengaged from their work. WHO estimates an addition $1 Trillion in losses due to poor mental health of employees, which is exacerbated in toxic work cultures. Just think of what the world could do if the estimated 12 billion annual “mental health days” where employees are no-shows for work were cut in half. Grammarly and the Harris Poll conducted an analysis which suggested that an additional $1.2 Trillion are lost annually by US businesses due to poor communication.

Let that sink in for a moment …

Workers want job satisfaction. And higher pay – of course. The average starting salary for a new graduate of a college or university program is currently about $55,000. But, with demand for talent being as high as it is, many new grads are reportedly earning $100,000 with their first job! There’s also a noteworthy shift regarding post-secondary education: it’s on the decline. After 2-3% annual increases in college enrolment rates, registration plummeted in 2020 and continues to decline year-over-year. The perception that a college degree is “all that” has changed dramatically. A college degree is no longer the defining requirement. Employers are increasingly seeking people with soft skills. Specifically, they are seeking candidates who have good leadership, communication skills, and interpersonal skills with the ability to learn new things. Active listening and social skills are also in demand. And let’s not forget the lost art of critical thinking!

Asking the Right Interview Questions vs AI

Companies that are getting ahead of the curve are offering interviewing training for their managers. They are teaching them which questions to ask in an interview. Suggested behavioral interview questions may help identify job candidates who will engage in “quiet quitting.” Sadly, professional development investments per employee have been declining since 2020 which flies in the face of the statistics. Hmmm … maybe they should rethink spending their money on employee training and development.

Artificial intelligence is omnipresent. In fact, some AI bot is probably monitoring how much of this article you’re reading right now. And, perhaps if you spend long enough here, it will start presenting you with similar articles in your feed. Indeed, a disturbing thought. However, this presumed activity pales in comparison to the potential of ChatGPT to change education. Say a few words and voilà – instant essay! It’s all great until the student using AI to score 102% on every course enters the workplace and then everyone shares in a WTF moment because the new hire has no clue how to do their job. Employee training is a critical countermeasure to get your new hires working effectively – even if they’re part of the 55% of people who lie on their resume.

So, where do we go from here? Employee training. Perhaps it’s the only path forward to get people on the same page and working together effectively and productively.





Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels:

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