How to Avoid “Languishing and Leaving”

Keep employees engaged to avoid losing good people

As we move into the second half of 2021, there is a dominant sense of “blah” permeating the workplace. If you (or your employees) are showing signs of this, you aren’t alone. Coined “languishing,” this sense of stagnation and joylessness is a direct result of the fatigue that set in around the pandemic — and then the push to bring people back into workplace environments that try to pretend nothing has changed. This is a recipe for disaster — one which is already playing out with companies reporting record numbers of resignations, as well as furloughed workers declining to return at all.

There are a few articles that have touched on this phenomenon, including The New York Times article by Adam Grant titled “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing”; another on titled “Everyone is Quitting Their Job” by Jordan Weissman; and finally “Are all your colleagues quitting? As remote work erodes company culture, more employees find it easier to leave” by Navio Kwok appeared in The Globe and Mail. What do all these have in common? They are all attempts to quantify this massive global shift in how people think about work, balance, and what they want their daily lives to consist of moving forward.

The question, then, is what can your organization do to combat this “languishing and leaving” mentality and keep your team intact, motivated, and excited to continue to do their jobs?

Just Who is Leaving?

With some surveys and reports suggesting that as many as 41% of workers are considering leaving their jobs this year, the question remains: who are they, and what is the real reason they are considering moving on?

  • Low-paid employees that were considered “essential,” such as those in fast food or grocery environments, are simply burned out from the extreme hours and extraordinary conditions many were forced to endure.
  • Many have re-evaluated their priorities, and entrepreneurship is on the rise, with many choosing to leave full-time positions to try and strike out on their own, where they can set their own hours and prioritize the people and activities that mean the most to them.
  • Digital exhaustion is another contributing factor for many office workers — the constant onslaught of emails, online meetings, video chats, etc., have many workers feeling ready for a break from the daily digital grind.
  • Career advancement is another reason many are leaving, both because they feel like they lack opportunities in their current roles and because they see opportunity with so many positions opening up across almost every industry. The reality is that people will stay in their position regardless of how they feel about it if the economy is bad or if there is a lot of uncertainty, which certainly sums up the last 18 months. But as the world slowly begins to reopen, there will be a pent-up demand for change.
  • The “YOLO” mentality of “you only live once” is also a contributing factor. With a year of not many expenses, many have built up a financial cushion that is allowing them to throw the proverbial caution to the wind and seek out a new adventure, whether that be changing careers completely or trying something entirely different for a while.
  • For minority employees, the way the organization has reacted to many of the other issues that plagued 2020 and have continued into 2021 is also a factor for why they might want to leave. If they feel their voice isn’t being heard or that their company is dismissing racial injustice, that might be the final push they need to start searching for greener pastures.
  • Finally, many workers are finding it difficult to transition back to full-time office work, having spent 18+ months working from home. The flexibility of remote work, the ability to spend more time with friends and family, and not having long commutes to contend with all contribute to the desire to find work that will recognize that the world has changed and will continue to plan accordingly, rather than insist everyone return and pretend nothing at all is different.

Remote Work vs. Company Culture

There is no denying that a clash has started — on the one hand, one survey by Morning Consult found that 39% of employees said they’d consider leaving their jobs rather than give up remote work. But, on the other hand, many experts are warning that this exodus to remote work is eroding company cultures and camaraderie, creating silos of individuals working, rather than cohesive teams.

The key moving forward for organizations is flexibility: give workers a choice of remote work, office work, or a hybrid of the two. Giving employees options and allowing them some control over their situation is a great way to demonstrate that the organization values them and wants to ensure they have the best environment possible to get their job done.

However, don’t discount the power of personal connections. In the absence of everyone coming together every day in one location, organizations will need to get a bit more creative. This is where TeamBonding comes into play.

TeamBonding Helps Build Engagement and Culture

No matter if your employees remain fully remote, fully in the office, or a hybrid of the two, planning events that bring people together, facilitate peer-to-peer interaction, and create opportunities for networking and conversations will help bridge the gap. It will create opportunities for connections that we have all been missing for the last year and a half and remind people why they love what they do and who they do it for. Happy, motivated, engaged employees aren’t going to be languishing on the sidelines waiting for a better offer to come along.

Here is a look at just a few of the options to consider to bring your team together again and get everyone back on the same page:

  • In It to Win It— Continuously one of the most popular options, this event is inspired by the TV game show and pits small teams against each other to complete short, 60-second challenges. It is fun, friendly competition that encourages employees to work together to solve problems quickly, form bonds with their fellow teammates, and get excited about sharing the experience.
  • Corporate Survivor — Who hasn’t seen the TV show? Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. Now you can bring this energetic event to your team, dividing them into “tribes” and pitting them against each other to win challenges. You will see your team working closer together, forging lasting bonds, and laughing together as a group.
  • Charity Bike Build — For those looking for an event that doesn’t just bring your own team together but has them working toward a great cause, this is the perfect event to choose. TeamBonding partners with organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Clubs in your local area and has your team helping assemble bikes for children, typically ages 5-9, who have never had the opportunity to have one before. It is a great way to bring your team together, and it benefits a great cause at the same time.
  • Beat the Box — For this event, your staff is broken up into smaller teams, and each one is given a box with 4 cases inside, each with an escape room-style challenge they have to solve to open the next one and progress. The challenges have to be solved in order, and teams are competing against other teams and racing the clock. Since 2014, more than 50,000 people have accepted the challenge to “beat the box,” making it one of the world’s most successful team-building concepts. Now you can bring this proven team-building event to your own organization.


And these are just a few options — not to mention the long list of virtual and hybrid events that will let you connect with team members who can’t participate in person. No matter what type of TeamBonding event you choose, don’t overlook the power of helping foster these very human connections. If you get employees engaged again and help them once more feel like part of the whole, rather than an island drifting alone, you will have far less languishing, which means far less leaving.

Anna Webber

Team Contributor


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