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Quiet Quitting-Are Your Employees Doing It?

(posted: October 31st, 2022)

You've probably seen references to the viral workplace trend called "Quiet Quitting".

What is 'quiet quitting' and should I be worried?

While the term is new, quiet quitting itself is not. It may be defined on a spectrum, but essentially quiet quitting means doing exactly what is required in your job, and no more. It's saying no to hustle culture.

For some, it entails defining firm boundaries between work and personal life, eschewing overtime for family time. For others, it is about coasting during work hours, doing just enough to get by. And, of course, those who just coast at the office have been around as long as office work has.

The term "quiet quitting' was coined by 20-somethings newer to the workforce, many of whom started their jobs during the pandemic, which added a layer of disconcerting effects, including even greater blurring of the boundaries between work and life. Quiet quitting then went viral as a TikTok hashtag.

One quiet quitter explained it this way in his popular TikTok video, "You’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life."

Are My People Quiet Quitting?

Probably some of them.

Across generations, U.S. employee engagement is falling, according to survey data from Gallup, but Gen Z and younger millennials, born in 1989 and after, reported the lowest engagement of all during the first quarter of 2022, at 31%.

So, what's wrong with a little "quiet quitting"? Don't we all want better balance in our work? Shouldn't we be able to go home (or disconnect) at 5pm and not continue working?

Yes, and yet, quiet quitting can be more damaging than outright quitting, because it puts a burden on other employees, and it is a form of disengagement, which can be contagious. It can also be hard to identify until it's already done damage to the morale of the organization.

It's worth noting that disengaged employees
cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity.

Its causes are similar to what causes burnout and to the causes that have driven "the Great Resignation", so if you have been following along with my recent articles you are well-positioned already to deal with your people quiet quitting.

Quiet quitting starts when your culture fails to deliver on employment promises.

While the rise of remote work has been blamed for the quiet quitting epidemic, there is more to it. Employees who are engaged and feel respected and like their work has purpose are the ones who are willing to go above and beyond their job description now and again.

But, as Harvard Business Review points out, employees are feeling less rewarded for that kind of behavior: "Employers are demanding additional effort from workers without investing enough in them in return." Indeed, remote work has exacerbated the "always-on" trend at work, and people are burned out.

But quiet quitting can be addressed!

3 Things You Can do to Stop Quiet Quitting

1) First, revisit and redefine each job's responsibilities. This lays the groundwork for managers and workers to focus on agreed-upon tasks.

2) Focus on improving engagement and motivation. How?

  • Managers need to meet one-on-one with their direct reports regularly. These meetings need to be intentional, and the manager needs to be present and attuned to the needs of the employee sitting before her.
  • Ask questions, and truly listen to what the answers are telling you. One question we suggest is simply, "What brings you joy?" to learn about your employees' passions and interests.
  • Take the time to understand what is important and to whom. Employees are not one-size-fits-all. Some are motivated by a desire to help, others like to feel they have a purpose as part of the big picture. There are some who are motivated by money. Others are motivated by recognition.
  • Banish "hustle culture". Create a culture that does not glorify working at all hours. For this to work, healthy culture should be more than lip-service.
  • Urgent vs important. Sometimes things really are urgent. But if your workplace has gotten urgent confused with things that are important but can wait, you are risking more quiet quitting.
  • Does your culture deliver, or disappoint? Your culture should be a priority every day, and this starts with your leaders and managers. They must model good work / life balance behaviors.

3) Provide development options. People want to learn and grow in their jobs. Give them those opportunities, both formally and informally.

Your best workplace is built on the relationships, trust, and motivation you create as leaders and managers. Improve your leaders' skills and approach, and you can stop or minimize the quiet quitters!

Challenge Yourself
  • What symptoms of quiet quitting have you been seeing in your workplace?
  • Which of the solutions, above, have you found work best?
  • What else have you tried? Did it work?
  • Please share your thoughts and additions in the comments below.

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1 Comment


Leave a comment


Really interesting data to consider!

Posted by Lani

(on Nov 3rd, 2022  6:44 PM)

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