Is 'rage applying' a new trend for HR to worry about?

'Make sure you have the best managers and they understand what employees actually need to be engaged'

Is 'rage applying' a new trend for HR to worry about?

With all of the talk lately about how so many employees are disengaged from their current jobs, will “rage applying” become the latest trend to worry HR professionals?

The term was apparently coined by a person on TikTok, where someone talked about how much she hated her job, which led to applying decisively to a number of new jobs, eventually landing one that offered a $25,000 increase in salary.

Hence, “rage applying” came to be known as sending multiple resumes to a large number of open positions.

But is this something that will keep HR professionals up at night? Probably not, according to one HR expert.

“We’ve seen a lot of these trendy terms: ‘great resignation, rage apply,’ all these things, but, at the end of the day, it just comes back to how engaged is your workforce, and the engagement of your workforce is completely dependent on the skills and strengths of your people managers,” says Amanda Hudson, founder of A Modern Way to Work, an HR consultancy in Toronto.

Educate leaders

As with a lot of areas around employee engagement, success in this area comes down to how well-trained the people managers are in the organization, says Hudson.

“I would always advise clients ‘Instead of worrying about what employees are doing in terms of whether they resign or not — because you can’t really control that — what you can control is: what is the caliber of people you promoted into management? Are you focusing on employee engagement? Do your managers know what the markers of engagement actually are?’”

By ensuring these managers are fully able to recognize disengagement when it happens, the problem of mass exits can be avoided, she says.

“Those are things that you actually can control and it won’t matter what the trend is or whatever the next thing is — it won’t matter because your staff will be engaged.”

For younger workers, they are facing some of the toughest economic conditions in years, and it’s no surprise they are “rage applying,” writes  Jack Kelly, founder and CEO of The Compliance Search Group in New York, in Forbes magazine.

‘Actively disengaged’

While this may or may not be a trend, workplaces will always have a segment who are not fully interested in their current jobs, says Hudson.

“The bulk of people are in this neutral zone at work where they’re neither engaged nor disengaged. Only less than 30 per cent of people are actively engaged and then there’s always the 10 to 15 per cent of people who are actively disengaged at work and my guess is those people that are ‘rage applying’: it’s that active disengagement where you get that super negative emotion.”

While this cohort may make retention numbers suffer, having them walk out the door might actually be a silver lining for the organization, she says.

“Ultimately, if you have someone who is so angry and bitter at your workplace that they rage apply to 500 jobs, in some ways it’s doing you a favour: you don’t want actively disengaged people at your workplace, they tend to do way more harm than good. So I wouldn’t necessarily see it as a bad thing if someone was that angry that they’re looking to leave your organization.”

“Quiet firing” is another trend that has seen managers disengaging from underperforming employees, often resulting in them quitting — but managers should avoid treating employees in this manner, says an employment lawyer.

Un-strategic thinking

For employers, having a person on staff who sends out dozens of resumes might not be the best idea, according to Hudson.

“If you’re so angry at your job that you very un-strategically just apply anywhere, to 500 workplaces, and take whatever interviews you get, that tells me that in general, you’re not a super strategic thinker; you’re not thinking about ‘What in my workplace was I not happy with? What’s a better environment for me? What do I enjoy doing? How do I make the next strategic move in my job?’”

For HR, stick to the normal day-to-day tasks and workflow and rage applying won’t be a part of your workplace, she says.

“Focus on employee engagement, number one, and do that by training your people managers to make sure you have the best managers of all your competitors and they understand what employees actually need to be engaged — and you won’t have an issue.”

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