Not all members of the Great Resignation have packed their bags and left. Some are staying put but “resigning” mentally, taking the problem of presenteeism to a whole new level.
What’s causing this so-called “Hidden Resignation”? Burnout fueled by increasing work expectations and 24/7 access to projects, for one. Another is watching colleagues jump ship and make more money — while not receiving so much as a thank-you from the boss for sticking with her through thick and thin. No matter the source, this growing problem is a contagious feeling of being stuck and unmotivated.
No one knows how many workers are part of the Hidden Resignation. Is it more or less than the record 4.5 million professionals who quit their jobs in November 2021? That’s impossible to tell. One thing’s certain, though: If you feel disempowered, indifferent, or disengaged at work, your life outside of work will also feel less fulfilled.
To deal with these feelings, you have a few choices. You might even choose to do nothing, but that’s hardly a recipe for improvement. The most drastic choice would be to find a different position at a different company with a different boss. Making a move could be a boom or a bust. A more moderate option is to stick it out and try to energize your ennui at your current job by taking these steps:
1. Schedule microbreaks throughout the day.
Whether you work remotely or at the home office, permit yourself to enjoy frequent snippets of “me time.” Bob Marsh, chief revenue officer of design-forward tech company Bluewater, recommends plugging 15-minute breaks right into your calendar each day to do something unrelated to work. “Blocking off specific time for microbreaks will help you rebalance your work-life responsibilities,” Marsh explains. You might want to start with lunch, which he notes nearly a third of workers don’t stop to break for.
Will taking breaks make you more engaged? Most likely, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The study found that when employees took time away from their tasks to do something enjoyable, they experienced fewer physical issues such as backaches and headaches. And less pain will make you happier during the workday. And just as repetitive motion is bad for your body, depriving your mind of a change of pace is bad for your mentality.
You get bonus points if your preferred activity involves green spaces, such as taking a walk at a nearby park or biking around your neighborhood. A literature review from Behavioral Sciences suggests that being in earthy, natural surroundings helps decrease stress levels and improve cognitive performance.
2. Reinvent your personal brand.
It’s the age of digital everything, which makes your personal brand more essential than ever. Go through your social media pages. Google your name. Check out your LinkedIn profile. What do all these social touchpoints say about you? And, more importantly, are they still accurate? If not, it might be time to rebuild your personal brand. Doing so can give you a renewed sense of purpose at work, especially if your feelings of disengagement are related to the fact that you’ve undergone lots of recent growth and transformation.
Figure out what matters most to you as a launching point for your revitalized personal brand. When you have unearthed your true purpose and your authentic self, begin to add content to your social presence that dovetails with your ideals. This could mean starting a YouTube channel or blogging regularly as a thought leader for your own or another website.
Just be sure to remember your audience. Personal branding is not about being famous, it’s about being selectively famous. That means being visible, valuable and available to the people you seek to influence. Continue connecting with people online and offline who will appreciate and support your personal direction. In time, your brand will become the dynamic springboard for opportunities that revitalize your career and reignite your spark for work.
3. Seek out a mentor to guide your passion.
In a recent interview, Leslie Camino, senior director of global learning at Keysight Technologies, spoke about the importance of mentorship for all up-and-coming professionals: “Research shows that having a mentor increases your capability of promotions, particularly in women, and women of color, and people of color. You are able to increase your capability in certain areas of the job. We know the impact that it has on engagement, retention, employee growth.”
Why does mentoring matter so much, particularly when you’re struggling to get through each workday? A good mentor can also serve as a role model, with real-world advice for moving ahead without losing sight of your personal values. Having a mentor also makes you flex your communication muscles. As a result, you might find that you start to speak up — and perhaps even become your best advocate — in meetings and get more involved in work projects. At the same time, you’ll have someone to advise your next steps and keep you focused on your career.
If you’re having trouble finding a mentor within your current team, consider working with one of the many organizations that offer formalized mentor-mentee matchmaking. Once you get a mentor, remember one of the most important aspects of the experience: Mentoring should be a two-way street. Your mentor needs to get something out of the relationship, even if it’s just knowing that you intend to “pay it forward” later in life and help someone else find more passion in their work.
Disengagement is occurring all around us. But when you feel yourself being drawn into the ranks of the Hidden Resignation, you don’t have to succumb. With these three strategies in place, you can resist the slump and propel yourself to start soaring instead.