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  • Writer's pictureSarah Cromwell

Force people back to the office, yup that'll help UK quiet quitting, sadness and loneliness levels.

Updated: Jun 13

Gallup State of the Global Workplace 2024 dropped today and my prediction from the top 2 takeaways for the UK is…..not great….

We are No. 1 for the lowest regional percentage of engaged employees and the 2nd lowest regional percentage of employees experiencing daily sadness. In social media speak: UK is No. 1 for quiet quitting and No. 2 for sadness. Globally, sadly, one in five employees experiences daily loneliness, and Gallup estimates that low employee engagement costs the global economy US$8.9 trillion, or 9% of global GDP.

My prediction: A new drive to mandate people back into the office. Historically, British people are known for confidently walking into spaces where they don’t know anybody and striking up conversations with strangers... without being drunk or high (brief history: In the early 2000s and late 1990s, it was cocaine; in the 1980s, alcohol-fueled lunch meetings; and the Victorians left visiting cards to avoid meeting altogether). In 2024, English employees don’t have the cultural knowledge or an etiquette handbook for spending 7 hours in an office with unknown colleagues, and thanks to WFH, we don’t have to. However, Gallup's quiet quitting, sadness, and loneliness figures suggest that we might need to.

In the Gallup report, Mishna Content Management Director says: “You may think work and life outside of work may be separated, but I disagree. These are the same, occurring at the same time.” In the opening speech of The World of Work 2024 Live stream, Gallup’s CEO said, "Studies show that people stay at work for their work best friend.”

If businesses want to foster engagement inside work, they need to invest in training and events that teach skills or offer opportunities that benefit their employees outside of their work. Meaningful engagement is not, as my friend said, “sitting in stationary traffic for a work pizza party.” In the live stream, Karishma Patel Bulford highlighted, 'Connection cannot be the reason you get people back in the office because then you lose the value proposition of working from home.’

Businesses need to provide meaningful engagement and professional development opportunities that teach skills, bring employees closer to their own personal goals and the company's, and create community, friendship, and connection. Companies that invest in the full life of their employees, not just their work life, decrease quiet quitting, increase employee autonomy, create a sense of community, and “improve a host of organizational outcomes, including profit, retention rates, and customer service.”

A company can drag everyone back to the office, but the only community they'll build around the water cooler is one swapping job leads from other companies. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean the company won't try it.

The Gallup State of the Global Workplace 2024 can be found here:

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