‘Rage Applying’ Shows Workplace Deficits That Need to Be Addressed

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Everyone is looking for a new job. Keep your employees from wanting to.

The workplace has had its share of transformative trends over the last few years, from remote work and RTO (return to office) to the Great Resignation and quiet quitting. But the latest trend that many seem to be discussing is “rage applying”, made popular by viral TikTok videos from disgruntled employees who feel overlooked, undervalued or overworked and seek retribution by mass applying to open roles with higher pay and better perks. While this phenomenon isn’t new, the label for it and popularity among young workers is.

But this new trend of rage applying points to long-existing challenges many face in the workplace. If we do not create a workplace culture where the well-being of employees is prioritized then we are going to see levels of dissatisfaction increasing and trends such as these taking hold of our employees. If you have employees who are rage applying or similarly disgruntled, then they are doing so not because it’s trending on social media, but because there are inherent issues in your workplace culture.

There is unrest in the workforce right now. Younger generations are facing economic barriers and financial hardship not seen in decades driven by the rising cost of living, sky high cost of housing, and an economic recession. If you combine this with people feeling undervalued, unsupported, and unhappy in their jobs, it’s easy to see why they’re looking for any way to fix it. As the labor market tightens, business leaders need to look at ways to support younger employees more junior in their careers. According to Monster, 96% of today’s U.S. workforce is or will be looking for a new job in 2023, so here are some tips for business leaders to help support the ever-changing workforce:

Prioritize the well-being and recognition of your workforce

According to our research, 85% of employers feel they actively listen to the needs of employees, but only 51% of employees agree. Job satisfaction and recognition are inextricably linked. Recognition typically takes the form of a promotion, bonus or simply vocalizing someone’s hard work to the larger organization. In a challenging economic climate a perk that perhaps matters more than ever is flexibility, something more and more employees are demanding. High performers are working more hours and are even more productive than last year, but 53% are also burnt out. The good news is that these employees reported they would be more likely to stay at a company that provides high-quality resources for them to care for their mental health. While it may be difficult to reward employees monetarily during today’s economic uncertainty, as business leaders, we have a responsibility to first and foremost make sure our employees feel supported and appreciated and then provide them room to progress so if they decide to quit it’s for the right reasons and not in a heat of the moment.

Empowering managers to serve as advocates

A recent study found 82% of employees would quit their job because of a bad manager. In the same study, employees reported that they wanted their manager to care about their career progress and be honest about growth opportunities.

But bad managers aren’t necessarily the ones to blame. Studies show that managers are experiencing more burnout than ever before. This level of stress can impede on their work, making it harder to dedicate the necessary time to invest in junior employees, foster their professional growth, give proper feedback and most importantly, create an environment of trust and open dialogue. As business leaders, we need to recognize the success of our business depends on the success of our employees. And the success of our employees depends on the time and resources their managers have to invest in them.

If there is strain at the managerial level, company leaders need to step in and act immediately. Assess the situation to see what’s causing the disconnect between the employee and manager and how that can be rectified. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure the manager has enough time to coach employees on top of their day-to-day work.

Addressing the belonging disconnect

When an employee feels seen and heard, they are empowered to do better work. Deloitte found when employees feel a sense of belonging it can lead to a 56% increase in job performance.

Research also shows a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to belonging. While two in three employees report feeling connected, supported, and seen at work, when employers were asked the same question, they significantly overstated how their employees feel by at least 20% on every metric. For example, only 59% of employees reported feeling seen by their company and colleagues for their unique contributions to work, while 85% of employers said their employees felt seen.

This disconnect indicates businesses aren’t attuned to their employees. To have a successful business, leaders need to make sure they understand the needs of their employees and address the shortcomings. Otherwise, their employees may feel the need to “rage apply” to feel seen and heard.

While the trend of rage applying may not last long, it uncovers an underlying issue that all business leaders need to address. We need to do better. We need to support our employees the best way we can and give them the room to grow and more importantly recognize them for the positive impact they are making on the business. And if we don’t, employees will take action and leave, spurred on by frustration and rage.