The past year has given rise to a multitude of new terms used to describe different employee behaviours that have appeared since the pandemic, from ‘quiet constraint’ to ‘desk bombing’ and more. 

The need-to-know terms for business leaders in 2023

Now that the year is drawing to a close, and businesses are starting to prepare for the challenges that lay ahead in the new year, NerdWallet’s business finance expert, Connor Campbell, has put together a summary of recent terminology to help business leaders navigate the workplace climate going forward:

‘Desk bombing’

Similar to ‘photo bombing’, this term refers to colleagues showing up at your desk unexpectedly for a conversation that you weren’t prepared for. In a lot of cases, businesses are operating at least partially-remotely, meaning employees are spending less time physically around one another. 

In some cases, this may now be leading to employees taking their eagerness to socialise with colleagues a bit too far. Whilst this phenomenon is generally meant in a positive way, there is the potential for ‘desk bombing’ to cause an issue if co-workers are using this method to air out grievances.

Connor recommends this tip for business leaders to avoid ‘desk bombing’ becoming a HR issue:

Schedule time for socialisation

Employers could set aside time in the day for colleagues to have uninterrupted social time, particularly if employees are only in the workplace a few days per week or per month. This can be achieved through communal breaks. 

Having some compassion for employees that have spent a long time apart and are still spending extended periods of time away from one another due to working from home will go a long way in helping prevent them from losing focus during the day.

‘Quiet quitting’

Contrary to its worrying-sounding name, ‘quiet quitting’ actually refers to employees reducing the amount of extra work they do outside of their job parameters and pay-grade. Instead, employees taking part in this trend will stick to responsibilities set out in their job description.

Connor has recommended the following tip for business leaders to combat ‘quiet quitting’:

Arrange regular check-ins

It’s important for business owners to stay in regular contact with their employees, giving them the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have and set out their expectations. This will also give business leaders the opportunity to ask their staff any questions and receive feedback, helping to avoid a build up of resentment.

Business owners should be willing to be open to criticism, and comfortable answering any questions employees may have regarding pay, responsibilities, and workplace culture.

‘Loud leaving’

Potentially in direct response to the ‘quiet quitting’ movement, senior managers and business leaders began ‘loud leaving’ – making a point of leaving the office on time and encouraging employees to do the same, ensuring that they know there is no obligation for them to continue working late.

This movement has actually helped to create a healthier working environment for senior staff and regular employees alike, and it is actually encouraged for more business leaders to participate going forward.

Connor recommends that business leaders do the following:

Place more emphasis on tasks completed rather than desk-time

Business owners should aim to place more focus on employees achieving the tasks that have been set for them, rather than being overly concerned with the amount of hours that staff are spending physically in the office. There should be more of an emphasis on work-life-balance in which employees feel able to leave the office on-time without feeling that they’re ‘sneaking out’.

‘Job cuffing’

Following the trend of ‘cuffing season’ that emerged to describe short-term winter relationships, ‘job cuffing’ refers to employees settling quickly into new roles during the winter months before searching for new opportunities in the spring.

With the UK entering into another recession, being without a job isn’t a sensible option for most people, meaning they may be willing to remain in a position they’re unhappy with for the time being – with the intention to pursue a new job role in the spring, or potentially even the new year.

Connor has shared his insight into this phenomenon:

“The years following the pandemic have seen more employees discovering their personal and professional worth. This has resulted in less people being willing to settle for jobs they don’t feel valued in for the long-term. 

“Figures suggest just 17% of Brits love their job, with 54% disliking some aspects of their job. These unhappy employees might now be preparing to move on to bigger and better opportunities in the new year.

“In the current economic climate, being without employment isn’t really viable, so it makes sense that people may be settling for a job over the winter period that they have no intention of staying in long-term.”

‘Quiet constraint’

Similar to ‘quiet quitting’, wherein employees choose to do the minimum requirements for their job role and leave the office on-time, ‘quiet constraint’ sees employees withholding important information from their colleagues that could help others to do their job better. 

In a recent US Workplace Culture Report, 58% of employees admitted to holding onto knowledge or information that could benefit co-workers and not sharing it with them. There are theories that this could be linked to the rise of remote working causing a disconnect between co-workers and making them feel less inclined to help one another.

With more businesses operating in a hybrid working style, it’s more important than ever for colleagues to work together and for businesses to establish strong and functional teamwork. 

Connor has shared the following tip to help business leaders promote information-sharing in the workplace:

Take time for employee introductions

The importance of introducing new employees to their new colleagues is not something to take lightly about. Employees should be briefed about new-arrivals ahead of time, and should be given a run-down of their strengths and what they’ll be bringing to the already-existing team. This makes the new member of staff less of a rival, and more of a team-member.

‘Career cushioning’

With the UK entering a recession, there is an increased risk of redundancies. In response to this, many employees are starting to think ahead and prepare a ‘plan B’ in the event that they lose their job. This can be achieved through keeping networks warm on platforms such as LinkedIn, along with maintaining up-to-date CVs. 

Redundancies were at a record-high at the height of the 2020 pandemic, with 330,000 people losing their jobs. Recent estimates suggest there will be 500,000 redundancies during this current recession. 

Whilst there may be a tendency for business owners to assume this means that their staff are preparing to quit, it’s important to remember that, in most cases, this is a precautionary measure to ensure that they have a safety net if they are made redundant. 

Connor recommends that business leaders do the following:

Put measures in place to support staff with potential redundancies

No business owner likes to think about redundancies, but no business can say that they’re exempt with certainty. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you have adequate measures in place to support any staff that may need to be made redundant. 

This includes ensuring that the severance package your business offers is fair to your employees and will provide them with enough money to cover their living expenses whilst they seek new employment. Alongside this, you may want to consider providing employees with access to mental health support to help them cope with any sudden change and lifestyle disruption.

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