In fast-paced work environments today, employees are often pushed to perform their best. However, this pressure and frustration can sometimes become overwhelming, leading to a phenomenon called “rage applying.” It is important to understand what rage applying means, why it happens and how employers can take actionable steps to reduce its occurrence and foster a healthier work environment.
What is Rage Applying?
Rage applying, sometimes called “rage quitting,” is a term used to describe explosively applying to jobs in a fevered attempt to flee a current employment situation. Though it may seem impulsive, it is often a culmination of long-standing issues. As Chief People Officer at Relay Payments Amy Zimmerman explains, one bad day at work is typically not enough to tip the scales. Rage applying is a more active way to respond to long-term dissatisfaction, “it’s a more aggressive evolution of what frustrated team members are doing following the “quiet quitting” phenomenon.1
Rage applying often occurs when an employee reaches their breaking point due to excessive workload, unresolved conflicts, lack of recognition, or toxic work culture.
Why Does Rage Applying Happen?
Understanding the underlying causes of rage quitting is essential for employers to address the issue effectively. The common reasons employees resort to this extreme action often include high-stress levels and burnout. Excessive demands, tight deadlines and unmanageable workloads lead to exhaustion and chronic stress. This erodes individual resilience and decision-making capacity and can lead to toxic job perceptions.
“[Rage applying] is a more aggressive evolution of what frustrated team members are doing following the “quiet quitting” phenomenon.”
– Amy Zimmerman, Chief People Officer at Relay Payments
It’s important to note that work-related pressure is only a part of employees’ stress. Many employees are now facing serious financial hardship as absorbent inflation works to erode the living wage. The necessities of housing, transportation and groceries are harder to manage. Student debt obligations can also exacerbate the pressure. When the boss adds one more thing to their overflowing plate, it becomes more than just frustration at work – it leads to blanketing the market with job applications.
What are the effects of Rage Applying?
Despite what social media would have gen z and millennials believe, rage applying is rarely a path to workplace utopia. HR experts explain that mindlessly applying to “easy apply” jobs on platforms like LinkedIn, with little consideration beyond higher pay, is unlikely to result in success. Ignoring essential factors such as job descriptions, company values, geography and cultural fit may lead the candidate to a worse situation than the one they are trying to escape. While mass job applications may increase the chances of landing an interview or an offer, it does not guarantee a better or less toxic job. The initial excitement wears off quickly, leaving the individual in a similar or even worse position.2
Workplace experts agree that it’s no picnic from the employer perspective either. When retention suffers, it impacts the organization. Employees driven away by frustration and the desire for escape can harm organizational performance and overall morale. Departing employees create a ripple effect, resulting in a loss of tenured knowledge and workforce, further affecting performance, and increasing pressure on the remaining employees. This negative feedback loop perpetuates the cycle of increased workload, low morale, poor performance and more pressure.
Reducing Rage Applying: What Employers Can Do
Fortunately, the turmoil created by rage applying is not a death spiral. Employers have the power to mitigate this issue through prevention strategies. Building a positive work environment is key to fostering contentment among employees. It is essential to identify and address toxicity within the workplace and implement policies that help solve problems before they damage morale, performance and retention. Some strategies that employers can adopt include:
- Cultivating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. When employees feel valued, respected, and heard, it helps foster fulfillment and lays the groundwork for resiliency. As studies show, resilience is the residue of attitude. Resilience is directly linked to maintaining balance and managing strong or difficult emotions, social support, and a sense of psychological safety and optimism.3
- Examining the benefits you offer to ensure they support mental wellbeing. Reviewing your organization’s offerings is essential to creating a culture that supports employee mental health. Consider offering supplemental benefits to help support mental wellbeing. Perhaps enhancing your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with virtual access to mental health providers or a mindfulness/meditation app.
- Offering financial planning assistance. Financial planning and employee discount programs designed for your employees can help them feel more supported and in control their financial destiny. This added support can often play a key role in reducing stress and improving employee mental health.
- Providing growth opportunities. Support employees’ professional growth by offering training, mentorship programs, and opportunities for advancement.4
The promise of securing additional compensation is part of the seductive appeal of rage applying. While rage-quitting employees are somewhat unlikely to secure a really high pay bump, it can be a compelling hope when faced with no clear opportunities or future. Helping employees see a path forward through advancement or total rewards can increase their commitment and reduce the likelihood of rage quitting.
Closing the Chapter on Rage Applying and Building a Sustainable Workforce
Rage applying, like most highly reactionary behaviors, can have severe consequences. It’s not a win. Not for employees or employers. Yet, by understanding the underlying causes and taking proactive measures to address them, employers can create a more positive and supportive work environment and reduce the occurrence of rage quitting.
Prioritizing employee wellbeing, fostering open communication and providing opportunities for growth and recognition are key steps toward building a thriving workplace where employees feel motivated, engaged and committed to their organization’s success. As is often the case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
To learn more about benefits options and ways that your organization can better support employee mental health and wellbeing, contact MJ today.CONTACT US TODAY
- Goh Chiew Tong. ‘Rage applying’ isn’t new — but is it effective? Here’s what workplace experts say.” com. May 2023. https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/25/is-rage-applying-the-new-quiet-quitting-heres-what-experts-say.html
- Francesca Di Meglio. “What is Rage Applying?” com. Feb 2023. https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/employee-engagement/articles/what-is-rage-applying-in-hr
- Rich Fernandez. “5 Ways to Boost Your Resilience at Work.” org. May 2023. https://hbr.org/2016/06/627-building-resilience-ic-5-ways-to-build-your-personal-resilience-at-work
- “What is ‘Rage Applying’ and How Does it Impact the Public Sector?” cpshr.us. May 2023. https://www.cpshr.us/resources/what-is-rage-applying-and-how-does-it-impact-the-public-sector