A new workplace practice is emerging amid mass layoffs and employers are looking for ways to stop it before it starts.
By Zee Johnson
Yet another round of mass layoffs is making headlines, turning apprehensive workers to an increasingly popular practice—anxious applying.
“Anxious applying is when employees start reaching out to recruiters or potential employers about a new role, simply as a precautionary measure,” Paul Rubenstein, chief people officer at Visier explains. “They are often responding to the news about layoffs at other companies and worry that something might happen soon where they work.”
The act of workers lining up a new job opportunity with no immediate plan to quit a current role isn’t just stemming from unsatisfied employees; even those workers who say they like their jobs and are happy with their organizations are testing the waters, too. “They might be perfectly happy at work, but they want to cover all their bases,” Rubenstein says.
This year, it is expected that 96% of workers will look for a new job and even HR staffers are looking for other opportunities while on the clock. And while it’s no guarantee that those who are actively applying will accept a new role, these distractions are detrimental to employee engagement and productivity.
Rubenstein says leaders must act openly and sincerely to create an environment rooted in trust which ultimately helps combat anxious applying. “When we think about anxious applying, we’re really talking about the overall confidence that your employees have in your business,” he says. “Organizations that are transparent, even when it comes to a reduction in headcount, are in a far better position to combat this phenomenon than those that stay silent. This means filling in the blanks for employees to connect difficult short-term decisions with long-term growth and opportunity.”
He also details other ways that companies can tackle anxious applying before it spreads throughout the workforce.
- Be a source of trust. A recent Edelman Trust Report shows that employees are looking to their employers as a source of trust more than ever before, and it is the employer’s responsibility to maintain an environment where employees feel like they are respected with open dialogue.
- Utilize people data. Using data helps companies better understand where their risks lie. Once uncovered, leaders can implement things like stay interviews and personal conversations with at-risk employees to rectify any issues.
While no company is completely exempt from attrition, even if at minimal levels, Rubenstein believes communication is key to helping companies put an end to anxious applying. “At Visier, we maintain an open level of communication with our employees. We utilize our own software to empower our managers to better understand their teams, through things like ongoing sentiment surveys and burnout indicators,” he says. “It’s our hope that in cases where anxious applying may be occurring, we are proactively doing enough to ensure our most valued employees stay with the team.”