The Great Repression

by Matt Poepsel, PhD

I predict that there’s going to be trouble on the horizon. Here’s why the economy all over the world has slowed. Hiring therefore is likely to slow down pretty dramatically. And as a result, many employees are going to start to many employers, I should say, are going to seize back the leverage that they’ve been lacking in the last several months. Some examples might include requiring employees to return to the office physically and sit in traffic and all the things that employees tend not to like to do. Another is wage freezes.

So where employees are being offered a premium to join a company, those who remain with the company may pay some sort of a loyalty tax as a result of not moving around. And as a result, some of those employees are going to soon face a new challenge. Here’s what it looks like. When a employee was frustrated, up until recently, the availability of potential new jobs and the even the opportunity to make a change provided some relief psychologically, right. But when those go away, and there’s something prevented, all of a sudden, we shift to this mentality of repression, you can see the restraint prevention and inhibition of a feeling or quality, the consequences of repression at work for employees are many.

One is withdrawal, maybe their employee engagement goes down, the lack of discretionary effort paid toward the job could increase toxicity, like just outright negativity at work, you will start to see friction between different units and teams and operating individuals, that’s going to cause all kinds of challenges. And then unfortunately, also employees are going to experience potentially decreased mental health as a result of the challenges of work. And all of these sort of changes without an outlet to go. And to explore the job market when those things go away. All of that has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s not going to go to very good places. Now the price of that is going to show up in our organizations.

This is a talent optimization framework, of course, and we know, wherever there is sub optimal employee experience or performance in this case, we’re talking about experience and performance. It shows up in a couple of key ways. One is Miss targets. So if we start to see goals and objectives and KPIs slip, that could be a result of this type of repression, and others execution risk, all those changes and great things that we hope to navigate our way out of the economic challenges will potentially suffer a little bit if our employees aren’t fully engaged and fully aligned and ready to go and then that people tax we talked about frustration, toxicity, negativity, these things show up with a lot of inefficiency and other challenges that I refer to collectively as a people tax.

So talent optimization is at a premium. It’s always in any condition, the right thing to do, it’s more important than ever, especially considering the changes that we’re seeing in the economy and potentially in the job market and the impact that it’s going to have on our people.