After Covid-19 and the Great Resignation, HR leaders are now facing a new challenge that is changing and affecting the workplace: Quiet Quitting.
Quiet quitting occurs when employees stop going above and beyond their role requirements to keep their jobs, which is a form of employee disconnection from the workplace culture.
In this article, read about the causes of Quiet Quitting and what you can do as an employer.
What does Quiet Quitting Mean
Quiet quitting is a form of noncompliance and protest against an unequal work-life balance. This trend doesn't necessarily mean people quit their jobs outright. It means that work no longer is the center of their lives, they no longer measure their self-worth solely based on productivity and output. The purpose of quiet quitting is primarily to dissociate the identity of the employee from the identity of the individual, allowing the employee to regain control over their life.
It can also lead to a decrease in performance or productivity, a withdrawal from the team, and a reduction in communication and interaction to only what is needed and essential. It may also result in a detachment, or a preference to remain silent rather than share thoughts.
The causes of Quiet Quitting
A generational-related effect
Gen Z is a much more concerned generation when it comes to their working conditions and well-being than the generations before them have been. It is no longer acceptable for them to work at any cost in order to earn a living.
The economic environment
Quitting quietly is also influenced by economic conditions. According to the latest statistics from the Central Statistics Office, the number of employed people in Ireland reached 2.47 million in Q3 of 2021. This is the highest figure ever. This labor shortage is not without consequences. The balance of power between employers and employees has completely shifted.
With the recent layoffs in the tech industry worldwide and in Ireland, we may soon see another shift in the power balance of recruitment.
Great Realignment and remote working
The idea of working to live, rather than living to work, is by no means revolutionary. Nevertheless, remote working and the pandemic have made it more popular than ever. Quiet Quitting is a consequence of what we’ve been through for the past two years, with a lot of fuss and a fear of burnout.
It is also fed by a poorly supported remote working environment. Working from home distorts the natural link between the employee and the organisation. It reduces the role of the company as a place of social construction, and work activities are no longer punctuated by rituals materialised at specific meeting spots (coffee machine, corridor, canteen). Exchanges with managers are rare, and the employee focuses solely on his own tasks, disregarding the collective.
Therefore, employers should create and introduce policies and incentives that sufficiently re-engage their workforce and prevent them from "quietly quitting".
What you can do as an employer
1. Watch out for excess workload
Most quiet quitters complain of “doing the work of two or three employees.” Staff turnover is often the cause of this increased workload. Rather than slashing the workload when an employee leaves, other team members pick up the slack until a new hire arrives. Having to wait for the replacement of team members can exhaust and frustrate employees.
2. Maintain boundaries
Quitting quietly can be the result of a lack of work-life balance and a disregard for the boundaries between work and personal life. There may be a constant stream of calls or emails from coworkers or managers after hours that the employee is expected to answer. It may be that work interrupts vacations or that managers deny requests for PTO. Those employees who are concerned about the company's lack of respect and protection of their personal time resort to enforcing those boundaries.
Here are some things you can do to fix this:
Make it clear that answering after-hours calls or emails is optional
Establish an on-call system
Establish guidelines for what constitutes an appropriate after-hours emergency and how to mark messages as urgent
Permitting employees to leave early on another day as a reward for staying late
It is less likely for team members to overstep those bounds when you as a leader are vocal about employees' right to private time. Your employees will appreciate you standing up for them, and you will save them from the stress of confrontation by speaking on their behalf.
Read more about How to Be a Better Manager in 6 Steps.
3. Listen to your people and ask for their feedback
Quiet quitting does not start quietly. It is not uncommon for employees to express concerns that managers acknowledge, but fail to repair or ignore. When team members feel their managers are oblivious to their problems, they may take action by not acting. Even worse, they lose faith in their leaders.
Talking with employees and holding regular meetings are great ways to prevent quiet quitting, and active listening is another way to make it more effective.
It is imperative that companies regularly survey their employees, moving beyond productivity and performance KPIs. Listening to the workforce's feedback is the first step to improving the policy and practices of the organisation. The best way to get the feedback of your employees and align it with your business strategy is to survey them. At Great Place to Work, we survey organisations at least once a year and deliver results in 17 categories. Trust levels are measured, areas for improvement are identified, and employee feedback is benchmarked.
4. Identify quiet quitters
You need to identify quiet quitters first. Remote workers who feel isolated from the company because they are not provided with the right tools to work well from home are particularly affected. The same is true for managers who don't respond, who don't interact with their teams, or who only contact them when there is an issue.
A quiet quitter usually is not a chronic underperformer; rather, he or she tends to be a disillusioned high performer. If your superstars start pulling back, take note. Investigate why outspoken employees go quiet in meetings, and key contributors are suddenly absent.
5. Open up the conversation
When employers identify "quiet quitters," they should invite them to openly discuss their disillusionment and underperformance issues.
Open and honest conversations with employees are the most effective way to deal with quiet quitting. By addressing the issues openly, you can take the "quiet" out of "quiet quitting." It is important that you clarify that this talk is not intended to punish the employee, and it is meant to help him or her feel comfortable enough to be honest.
Download our Global Study on What Employees Say They Want 👇
6. Properly compensate your team
A common argument for quiet quitting is "only doing the work that you are paid for." Many quiet quitters feel they are underpaid for the work they do.
As a result, they feel that their efforts are unjustly rewarded. This leads employees to scale back their efforts.
If employees are not rewarded for working overtime, they feel like their sacrifices and efforts are not properly valued by their employers. Therefore, employees feel taken advantage of.
The form of compensation can be monetary or non-monetary, such as recognition, bonuses, benefits, and flexibility. However, if you are severely underpaying staff, then making a case for ancillary compensation will be less convincing.
7. Employee recognition
Quiet Quitters tend to feel underappreciated by the organisation they work for. If the work goes unnoticed and unpraised by leadership, employees feel that they could stop working without leadership catching on or caring about the work, and it is often the case that they are correct. As a result, employees feel as if “no one cares either way, why try? ”
Recognising employees is an effective way to combat this mindset. You can show your staff that their work matters to you and the organisation by acknowledging and rewarding them for outstanding work. Visibility and recognition also reduce the likelihood of employees fading into the background.
8. Focus on career progression
Employees and managers can work together to find a better fit within the organisation while also reigniting each other's interests, resulting in a career that is both meaningful and rewarding. There is perhaps a possibility that the quiet quitting trend will be replaced by reenergized retention, where employees feel a renewed sense of pride and passion in their work.
Read more about 6 Ways to Have a Fair Process of Promotion.
9. Offboarding meetings
Occasionally, it is too late to reverse quiet quitting, which results in the employee quitting not-so-quietly. Even if an employee decides to leave, you should try to improve the work environment so that you can retain current employees and protect their passion for their job. A motivation breakdown can be pinpointed by conducting an exit interview with the departing employee and providing insight into how to overcome it.
Read More on Employee Offboarding Experience here.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. We help organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. We recognise Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies and the Best Workplaces™ in more than 60 countries.
To join the thousands of companies that have committed to building high-trust company cultures that help them attract, retain and take care of their people, contact us about getting Certified™ today.