In this insight, we look at what ‘quiet quitting’ is, what its causes are, together with what could be done to prevent it.
Quiet quitting is a term commonly associated with employment where it refers to how workers decide to only do the job they’re being paid to without taking on extra duties or participating in extracurricular work or work activities. I.e., quiet quitters do little or nothing outside the basics of the job description, specifically, doing the bare minimum needed to still get paid. It could also be described as a pandemic-induced burnout resulting in a disengagement.
Quiet quitting from social media (e.g. Twitter) refers to more lurking and less tweeting, i.e. not giving more to a platform than you can expect to get back.
Some of the reasons for what many now believe to be the employment trend of quiet quitting (after it trended on TikTok) include:
- The need to re-establish work-life boundaries and get a better work/life balance. Many people appear to have had a realisation that life may be more important than they recognised or appreciated before the pandemic, i.e. the realisation that there’s more to life than just work.
- Managers in a post-pandemic world still applying old principles and techniques leading to dissatisfaction and disconnection, particularly among the young, e.g. millennials and Gen Z.
- The higher levels of stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic leading to the magnification of the unhealthy aspects of some work environments.
- A high workload and a perceived lack of empathy from employers.
- Employees feeling disenfranchised and feeling that they can’t be themselves and that they need to change themselves or suppress part of themselves to fit in, e.g. within inequitable work environments.
- Poor compensation, a lack of management support, and an apparent disregard for work and personal life boundaries in a workplace.
- Changing expectations and poor communication or conflict resolution.
Does Quiet Quitting Lead To Real Quitting?
While quiet quitting really refers to actually staying in a job but doing the minimum, in early 2021 just after the pandemic, a trend known as the Great Resignation/the Big Quit/the Great Reshuffle happened. This referred to employees voluntarily resigning from their jobs en-masse.
Some reasons for this may have been similar to the reasons for quiet quitting, e.g. a shift in priorities precipitated by the pandemic leading to pursuit of a ‘dream job’ or resentments about their employers not treating them well during the pandemic.
It should also be remembered that when the pandemic and its restrictions first took hold, many workers simply lost their jobs and had no choice.
What Can Done To Stop Quiet Quitting?
Some ways that the quiet quitting challenge could be addressed include:
- Being prepared to manage the younger generations of workers differently and offering more flexible workplace options.
- Giving employees the chance to prioritise their work with perhaps just a one-on-one at the beginning of the week to help overcome overload at work.
- Having realistic expectations of (and goals for) workers – particularly younger workers.
- Ensuring that increases in workload are kept short-term.
- Managers leading by example, being less rigid, and letting employees know that it’s OK to be away from the office sometimes.
- Managers showing gratitude and empathy and letting workers know they’re valued.
- Keeping pay competitive with market rates and compensating employees well for extra effort or results.
- Making stepping up optional and making sure employees’ boundaries are not overstepped by co-workers or managers intruding on their personal time.
- Trying to build a rapport and relationships with employees and monitoring mood and behaviour changes in employees.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The pandemic and the post pandemic environment created a new and unusual set of circumstances and consequences that have manifested in some (mostly younger we’re told) employees as a kind of burnout and disengagement. Although employees doing the bare minimum and detaching themselves from the business is, of course, bad for productivity and competitiveness, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Everyone suffered during the pandemic, not least business owners, but businesses can’t run well without committed staff and preventing the worrying trend of quiet quitting involves listening and creating the right environment where there is mutual respect, workloads are managed well, employees feel supported and the rewards for (optional) stepping up are clear while offering a motivating levels of reward.
By Mike Knight