American workers are reluctant to quit their jobs, Ending the battle against remote work

Plus, the rise of loud quitting.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at some news stories from the last week and see what lessons we can learn.

1 . Americans are showing less willingness to switch jobs

During the pandemic, Americans changed jobs much more willingly than ever before, leading to the so-called Great Resignation. Now, it appears that that attitude is no longer as prevalent as it once was.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

The quits rate fell in each of the past three recessions. Quitting is a sign of unhappiness with a job, but also indicates confidence that the employee can find another position. When quits fall, workers may be worried about their prospects.

But Americans today are also sticking with their jobs for other reasons, including greater flexibility, better pay—or even that they are happy. That suggests that less quitting isn’t necessarily an indication of an economic downturn, and the expansion could have staying power when job openings still well exceed unemployment.

It’s interesting to see American workers sticking with their jobs, especially just a few years after the Great Resignation. The longer-term outlook, however, is unclear— is it really true that people are staying put because their current workplaces provide flexibility or better compensation? Seeing that further borne out by data could help inform workplace retention strategies going forward. Employers can then act on it by asking employees why they’re staying in their roles, as the ‘stay interview’ is a rising trend that assists employers in knowing what their employees want and how to provide it.

  1. Looking to an end of the battle against remote work

A mounting pressure to bring employees back to the office post-Labor Day has informed a prolonged, public discussion about the merits of remote work.

According to U.S. News and World Report, it might be time to stop pressing employees about returning to the office and rather an opportunity to embrace remote work for good:

Attendance requirements fail and aggravate. Despite sustained efforts to get people in more often, office attendance has been flat. Employees with rigid work schedules are substantially more likely to leave a job compared to those with flexibility, according to a Future Forum study released earlier this year. And these sentiments are not confined to the lower ranks. Most executives insist on some autonomy over where they work.

Many in leadership do not realize that when they enact a mandate they often trigger an innate response to oppose it. This reaction is a well-studied behavior referred to as psychological reactance. It is our resistance to something that threatens our behavioral freedoms, and it is observable in even the most trivial situations. Studies have found that it is so deep-seated that it taps into both our cognitive and emotional response systems.

These insights on attendance aren’t just a business case for allowing people to work from home, but one based on behavioral science as well. If a work situation is going well for someone, it’s sometimes best to go by the old adage — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’re seeing resistance to a return-to-office mandate, it might be time to do some looking into exactly why there’s pushback and how to remedy it.

  1. The rise of loud quitting

You’ve heard all about quiet quitting — now its bolder sibling has entered the room — loud quitting.

According to a report by Business Insider, one anonymous employee outlined their “loud quitting” strategy by pushing back against return-to-office (RTO) mandates.

I feel that the administration deliberately holds back information about significant company-wide decisions and can’t admit when they’re wrong or made mistakes. I’m actively against the RTO mandate since management cannot show why it’s beneficial for us to return. I can’t take any of our leadership team seriously, and I have no qualms about fighting their decisions — specifically with returning to the office.

Take heed, comms and HR pros: This is the last thing you want a potential return-to-office policy to make your employees do. A positive culture takes a lot of work to nurture and only a little bit of neglect to tear down. If you’re planning RTO, do so with thought and care in mind for those it affects. Otherwise, you might find yourself on the wrong end of the newest workplace trend.

  1. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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