When Quitting Is Cool, There's An Employee Engagement Problem

Whiteboard GirlThere are stats left and right declaring how employee engagement is on a rapid decline across the board. Certain reports have even projected that nearly 2/3 of today's workforce is looking to jump ship from their current employers once the economy recovers a bit more. Statistics, studies and graphs can say all they want but viral pop culture phenomenons are a very good measure of the heartbeat of America.

Let's take the events of last week into consideration. Two epic resignations took place in a relatively short amount of time. First off was the "Whiteboard Girl." According to TheChive.com, a girl apparently resigns from her job using a series of over 30 photographs that she took with various messages etched on a whiteboard. In those messages, she calls out her boss for spending way too much time online playing Farmville and emails the series of photos to her entire office. Ultimately, the entire thing ended up being an elaborate publicity hoax for TheChive.com but still didn't prevent the elaborate "I QUIT!" from spreading rapid fire across the internet, gathering praise and applause and the occasional chuckle from millions of people.

Then there was the epic resignation that was a story that seemed like something someone would in fact fabricate but was 100% true. Disgruntled JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater has a difficult passenger push him over the mental edge. In a moment where he essentially snaps, Slater gets on the airplane's PA shouting a slur of obscenities, grabs two beers out of the cart, releases the emergency chute of the airplane and escapes the aircraft, only to hop on the airport tram to the parking lot and tear home. Slater was eventually arrested in his home...with a smile on his face. His escapade garnered a lot of positive attention, endless press coverage and a plethora of viral support (including Facebook pages in his honor popping up overnight). Rumor has it that Slater even has a potential reality show in the works.

Steve SlaterWe've heard these stories until we're numb, so I apologize for allowing them to resurface once again here. I tell them again to bring home a point. These two stories were hands down the biggest viral stories of that week. Both involved individuals quitting their jobs in grand fashion. The biggest kicker? The public (for the majority anyway) embraced them! For many, Steve Slater became a hero. A Twitter follower of ours even tweeted that he would've started a slow clap had he been on Slater's plane that morning at JFK.

When this many people applaud individuals quitting like this, that should tell us about the engagement factor in America. This most likely indicates that many of these fans can sympathize with these two resigners. Part of them wants to do what they did but won't. When the general public feels this way, it's a good indicator of the lack of employee engagement in the US. With the cost of re-hiring new talent not being cheap, retention is vital to many companies recovering from the economy.

Almost 2/3 of employees are looking to jump ship in the next year. When quitting becomes cool, there's an employee engagement problem.

Think employee engagement is a waste of money? Just ask Steve Slater.