How to stop learners ‘mentally resigning’

by L&D14 Jul 2016
‘Inner resignation’ is when staff members are physically present but have mentally resigned from the job.

They might have become unproductive, unmotivated and unengaged which can be detrimental to the business's bottom line.

However, inner resignations can be avoided by implementing employee recognition initiatives, personal development and training, and having a positive work environment, according to the specialist recruiter Robert Half.

This is important because their research has found 49% of Australian businesses have experienced inner resignation among staff.

Inner resignation tends to be more common in large companies with 54% saying they have seen it happen compared to 47% of SMEs.

In fact, only 38% of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and finance directors say their business is not impacted by inner resignation.
Nearly all (97%) finance leaders use a variety of strategies to prevent inner resignation. One in two (52%) businesses promote employee appreciation, rewards and recognition.

Moreover, just under two out of five (39%) businesses foster open lines of communication and provide feedback to make sure they are aware if employees are doubting their decision to stay at the company. 

Initiatives undertaken to avoid inner resignation
Employee appreciation, rewards and recognition 52%
Ensure job fits the employee 41%
Foster open communication and feedback 39%
Provide personal development and training 29%
Avoid passing on pressure to employees 28%
Promote top employees 18%
Run internal employee survey 15%

Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 300 Australian CFOs and finance directors (multiple answers allowed)

Inner resignation results in problems for both the employee and the employer, said David Jones, Senior Managing Director Robert Half Asia Pacific.

“Employees who have mentally resigned from the company will not be as productive and motivated as when they were first hired, and this will ultimately have a negative effect on a company’s bottom line,” he said.

“It is vital for business leaders to keep staff motivated and engaged in order to maintain workplace morale and productivity.

“It is an area where prevention is better than cure because once an employee has resigned emotionally, it is often too late to turn the tables. This highlights the need to address motivation concerns before they reach this point.”

Jones added that for employees the worst possible course of action is accepting inner resignation as part of the job.

“In such cases, employees need to find out what is causing their dissatisfaction and lack of motivation, and be prepared to address the issue with your manager or take action and move on to a new job,” said Jones.

Robert Half offers the following tips for both employers and employees to address inner resignation:

For employers
  • Foster a workplace where employees are able to express their views with confidence.
  • Provide constructive feedback.
  • Take an interest in your employees – and treat workplace complaints seriously.
  • Emphasise common goals.
  • Improve office culture by creating a positive work environment.
  • Ensure salaries are adequate. 
For employees
  • Set personal goals.
  • Challenge yourself.
  • Speak up if you have concerns.
  • Offer suggestions for positive change.
  • Let your employer know what motivates you.