Conscious quitting: The New HR Trend to Take Seriously?

Are the values and actions of your company aligned with those of your teams? If not, beware of the new concept of conscious quitting lurking around! Deciphering this emerging trend, especially among the younger generation.

We’ve known about quiet quitting, the phenomenon of doing only the bare minimum at work. Now, enter conscious quitting! The term originates from former Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

In a study published in February 2023, he revealed that a third (35%) of the 4,000 American and British employees surveyed had resigned at some point in their lives because their company’s values were not aligned with theirs. This figure rises to nearly half (48% in the UK and 44% in the US) for Generation Z or Millennials. Paul Polman refers to this as a “time bomb” for companies.

“Any CEO who thinks they’re going to win the war for talent by offering a little more money, a bit more remote work, and a gym membership will be disappointed. An era of conscious quitting is underway,” he warns.

The complexity of this trend lies in its multifactorial nature. Some employees may disagree with their company’s environmental practices, while others may be more sensitive to social measures or diversity and inclusion policies.

For example, 73% of Americans and up to 76% of Britons state that environmental protection is a must for accepting a job offer, while three-quarters of respondents believe that social equality is an absolute priority.

Moreover, this is as much about retaining teams as it is about attracting talent. According to Paul Polman’s report, over a third of employees surveyed would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that shares their values. Once again, the younger the respondents, the more significant this figure becomes.

In other words, the values and actions of companies are increasingly factoring into candidates’ considerations when choosing their next career adventure, alongside salary, benefits, or flexibility, for example.

Words and Deeds

Faced with this challenge, what can companies do? Questioning their workforce and gauging the values of their team seems to be the inevitable starting point. This is crucial to understanding their employees’ sensitivities, especially if such inquiries were not addressed during their hiring process.

According to a Willis Towers Watson survey conducted in 2021, 53% of North American companies surveyed have already implemented or are considering implementing employee engagement or listening activities to understand their views on climate issues.

But merely conducting this audit is not enough. It’s crucial to tangibly demonstrate action in response to these aspirations. This may involve reflecting on company policies and culture or making concrete commitments internally and within society.

The most challenging yet impactful aspect is undoubtedly incorporating these values into the company’s economic model to avoid merely paying lip service!

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