With many stressors weighing on employees amid the current economic climate, it’s important for employers to recognize the ‘rage applying’ trend is rooted in workplace mental-health issues, says Paula Allen, global leader of research and client insights at Telus Health.
Employees’ hypersensitivity to stress can present itself through interpersonal communications, including expressions of anger and cynicism or apathy towards colleagues’ problems, she says, noting people’s fight-or-flight instinct leads to their lashing out or withdrawing, a process that tends to begin with ‘quiet quitting‘ and leads to ‘rage applying.’
The term rage applying stems from employees, particularly millennials or generation Zers, becoming so frustrated with their jobs that something triggers them to start applying for work elsewhere. And in this day and age, a potential new career is just a click away.
Cissy Pau, principal consultant at Clear HR Consulting Inc., says the current employment market is attractive for job seekers because there are more openings available than there are people to fill them. “You just click a button and . . . in half an hour, you can apply to 100 jobs.”
While the term is getting more attention lately, she says rage applying has always been a human resources issue, noting when people are dissatisfied at work, they tend to start looking for other opportunities. However, with the current wave of rage applying, there’s often a trigger — usually linked to a mental-health issue such as burnout — that causes workers to immediately look for a new role.
Employers can mitigate the impact of rage applying by ensuring their work environment is effectively attracting and retaining employees, says Pau. “If somebody is . . . rage applying . . . because they’re so . . . frustrated with their employer, [employers] need to find out why because they’re not the only ones.”
A focus on employee health and well-being is crucial to getting ahead of this mental-health issue, says Allen, noting employers that invest in tools and resources such as mental-health counselling and financial coaches or advisors are in a better position to help staff navigate these challenging times.
When employees feel they’re working in a psychologically safe environment and their employer has their best interests at heart, they’re less susceptible to outside stressors, she adds. “A mentally healthy environment [at work] can counter backlash. We’ve seen that in our data as well.”
Training frontline managers to recognize the signs of burnout in both in-person and virtual interactions can also reduce the contagious effects of turnover, says Allen. “Managers can be pivotal in helping situations. At the end of the day, [an employee’s] experience is going to be shaped by their manager.”
Pau agrees. “If you’ve got a rockstar that you think might be looking to leave, you need to find ways to keep them [and] change your management style to figure out what makes each of your employees tick . . . and [determine] what are their needs, wants, desires [and] unique interests [to] see how you as an employer can tap into that and meet them where they’re at.”