Quiet quitting is real, so how should your business respond?
Industries across the world are seeing a “rebalancing” of the labor market as the surge of hirings caused by the pandemic begins to ease off, experts have warned.
A senior LinkedIn executive has revealed that between 2020 and 2021, the world saw a 40% increase in recruitment across all industries – however this growth has levelled off significantly between 2021 and 2022.
Speaking at a panel discussion entitled “Talent, Culture and Purpose” at Stack 2022, a developer conference organised by GovTech, Singapore’s digital transformation agency, Frank Koo, head of Asia, talent, and learning solutions at LinkedIn, noted that there was “a huge difference” in the job market between the two years.
“It’s a confusing time…the talent acquisition market for tech is refocusing,” Koo noted, “it’s really a rebalancing of the industry.”
Fears of a so-called “great resignation”, as workers across the globe left their jobs having reconsidered their priorities during the pandemic, have so far proved mixed, with some companies hit hard, and others seemingly unaffected.
Koo noted that for the technology industry in particular, there was a definite sense of community spirit, as people rallied around friends or contacts who had either left their jobs or had been let go, offering support, making LinkedIn connections, or even providing potential employment leads.
“There’s a huge community spirit of tech workers supporting tech people, leveraging tech,” Koo said, “and I’m hopeful this spirit will continue into the longer term as we together navigate the changing tech skills and economic cycles.”
The ever-changing nature of the job market has also had a knock-on effect for those searching for new jobs, fellow panel member Noah Pepper, former APAC head at Stripe and GovTech board member, noted, highlighting how people are increasingly re-assessing exactly what a job means to them.
“The most important thing, whether you’re in the hiring seat, or in the joining seat, is figuring out the alignment between what you want out of the work that you’re doing, and what makes that work meaningful to you,” Pepper noted.
“I think, as an organisation, you have to be paranoid about the incentive structure that you create, because humans are really, really good at sniffing out what the leaders care about…and if they care about people showing up in person, and that’s the main thing they’re paying attention to, folks will show up but they’re going to find ways to take back something else for themselves.”
“At the end of the day, all of us are building or viewing something because it really matters to somebody on their side,” Pepper added. “It could be a citizen, it could be a customer, a business or an individual, and we’re serving somebody, doing something for them that matters deeply to them, and if you get it wrong, there are going to be consequences…understanding who you’re serving and who your customer is is incredibly important and valuable, and it’s important throughout every level of the organization.”
The spectre of “quiet quitting”, where workers disillusioned with their jobs simply do the bare minimum needed to avoid being fired, has been talked about a lot in recent months, and Koo agrees that work needs to be done in order to make employment seem more engaging.
“We’re seeing that a lot of job seekers are asking not just, what they’re going to do, but why are they doing it,” he said.
“At an organizational level, its all about, are leaders providing the right environment and growth opportunities for people to want to bring their best selves to work and become the best?”
Koo highlighted what he called “discretionary effort” – namely, what a person chooses to contribute to the things that they do, and exactly how much effort they’re willing to put in. For him, the question for employers is how exactly do they encourage that willingness to up the effort, and how do companies work on how they help employees develop and grow.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that this is an issue that will be solved quickly, and will be different at literally every single business. But it’s clear that the initial recruitment process, selling your company to a potential employee, will play a vital role, as Koo notes, “I foresee that the partnership between the hirer, the employer, and the job seekers, is going to get closer.”
“It’s a billion-dollar question that all of us are struggling to answer – I wish I had a crystal ball to answer.”
By Mike Moore