Q&A: The rise of Employee Resenteeism with Rashmi Utnal

Every week, we schedule our weekly 1:1 with our readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Drop an email to abhash.kumar@springworks.in

This week we’re in conversation with Rashmi Utnal, Head of People and Culture, Bzinga. We talk about how to navigate the newest workplace trend, Employee Resenteeism.

The interview is edited for length and clarity. All views are personal and not linked to any organisation.

Q - Resenteeism can be defined as the idea of staying in a job you’re fundamentally unhappy in, due to concerns of job security or a lack of better options. What do you think leads to employees feeling this way?

This can stem from the challenge employees face when their interests and knowledge skills do not align with the work they are doing at the organization. Various factors contribute to this sentiment, including employees feeling undervalued and redundant in their roles, and lack of opportunities for career growth. Additionally, the way managers and leadership treat their employees significantly impacts job satisfaction, making it difficult for employees to perform at their best.

Despite having the option to quit and seek better opportunities, employees today are choosing to continue to stay at their current jobs even if they are dissatisfied and unhappy. This is mainly due to the current state of the job market.

Q - Having a sense of purpose is becoming more important for employees. How do you think companies should address this to retain talent and prevent employee resentment?

The earlier generation often sought jobs primarily for financial reasons, and their expectations were limited compared to the current generation. However, the current generation, especially Gen Z, values career growth and learning opportunities more than just the financial benefits of a job.

Organizations need to address and adapt to these changing expectations. For instance, in startups with a significant Gen Z workforce, the absence of a defined career ladder led to employee resignations, as they sought clear growth prospects. Prioritizing career growth is vital for the new generation of employees, and organizations should incorporate it into their talent retention strategies.

Q - How does employee well-being play a role in combating Resenteeism and enhancing productivity at work?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought health concerns to the forefront, especially the impact on mental health with the transition to remote work and the impact on physical health with the potential decrease in physical activities.

I believe that employers should adopt a progressive approach when it comes to benefits today. Looking ahead five, or even ten years from now, it's essential to consider the long-term impact of the benefits we offer. Today employees appreciate policies and processes that prioritize overall well-being and not just the physical aspect. For instance, health insurance coverage should go beyond the basic requirements of hospitalization expenses and provide additional coverage such as mental health services and tele consultation services.

As someone working in HR, employees' well-being is always at the forefront of my mind when developing policies and processes. I try my best to create simple, fair and sustainable guidelines that support employees in their journey.

Q - How can employers tackle this rising trend of employee resenteeism?

Whether employees are quietly quitting, or increasingly becoming resentful towards their jobs, it is key to spot early signs of employee dissatisfaction. However, recognizing these signs is not always straightforward and requires continuous effort. It's not just a matter of evaluating employee performance and categorizing them into one of these buckets. Instead, it involves maintaining open and frequent communication with employees. These communication channels should encourage two-way dialogue, where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, expectations, and concerns about the organization.

To achieve this, HR, team leads, and managers need to engage in open conversations and conduct regular check-ins with employees. These interactions should take place in a supportive work environment that empowers employees to voice their opinions.

The goal here is to understand their perspectives and challenges, which can provide valuable insights into potential issues or areas of improvement for the organization. By fostering open dialogue and understanding employees' needs, employers can proactively address any issues and create a more positive and engaged workforce.

Q - How can employers establish a safe space for employees to share their thoughts, challenges and feedback?

This can be achieved by maintaining clear lines of communication between employers and employees while also providing continuous feedback. It's crucial to avoid limiting communication, such as giving feedback through other managers. Instead, direct conversations with the individuals concerned should be encouraged.

Creating a culture where open and direct communication is valued helps establish a supportive environment within the organization. Additionally, following up on communication is equally important. Feedback can be collected through surveys, but it shouldn't end there. Employers should respond to the feedback, analyze the areas of improvement, and develop plans to address them. Regular communication with employees about the actions being taken based on their feedback builds trust and reinforces the importance of employee opinions.

Fostering open communication, direct feedback, and consistent follow-up are key elements of creating a safety net within the organization. By implementing these practices, employers can address concerns early on and mitigate the factors contributing to resenteeism in the organization.

Q - What are the long-term business implications for organizations that neglect to consider employee experience and feedback in addressing issues of Resenteeism and Quiet Quitting?

There's a significant impact beyond just financial aspects when employees start to experience feelings of disengagement. When employees feel unappreciated or undervalued, it can lead to a decline in productivity, overall organizational performance, and of course, resentment towards the organization.

Employee resenteeism can lead to a negative brand reputation, impacting the organization's ability to attract and retain employees. The cost of hiring and training new employees to fill these gaps can be substantial.

Q - HR professionals are key players in employee engagement. How can they effectively navigate and address this trend of employee resenteeism?

To address resenteeism and quiet quitting, there are a few things that HR professionals can do:

  • Implement progressive policies and benefits: For instance, providing comprehensive health insurance that includes online doctor consultations and wellness workshops. Offering mental health support with access to professional counsellors is crucial as well.

  • Fostering open communication: Create a platform for employees to freely express their concerns, feedback, and ideas. Encourage a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their needs and challenges.

  • Create a performance review process that encourages regular feedback: Move away from annual performance reviews and instead, encourage managers to provide ongoing feedback and support to their team members.

As an HR leader, my focus is on creating a healthy work environment tailored to the specific needs of the organization and its employees. This involves implementing practices, policies, and benefits that support employee well-being and satisfaction. The foundation of this healthy environment lies in ensuring a safe and inclusive workplace where employees feel valued and supported in their work.

Do you work in HR? Email abhash.kumar@springworks.in and Let’s Talk!