What's the deal with quiet quitting?
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
Who are quiet quitters?
Quiet quitters are a group of people who want to put work in a box, go to work to fulfil what is stated in their job description and not let work bleed into other areas of their lives. They will do what is asked of them, but they are less likely to go above and beyond.
Who does it affect?
While this might not seem like a big deal for some, it can be quite problematic for many leaders. Job descriptions often cannot fully define the scope of the role, thus leaders rely on employees to step up and meet extra demands as needed. Quiet quitting certainly puts an end to that exploration and understanding, which can also put the company at a competitive disadvantage.
“Since the pandemic, people’s relationship with work has been studied in many ways, and the literature typically, across the professions, would argue that, yes, people’s way of relating to their work has changed,”
Maria Kordowicz- associate professor in organisational behaviour
What’s triggering ‘quiet quitting’?
If you ask anyone who has invested in ‘quiet quitting’, you will probably find that the problem lies deeper than a desire to work your hours and no more. It's not a story of lazy employees doing the bare minimum. It's a story about being valued, feeling included and safe. The popularity of the term ‘quiet quitting’ may alter and change, but insights and consequences of the concept remain.
Employees who are quiet quitting likely share some of these characteristics:
They do not feel appreciated and valued for the effort they put in
They have neglected important aspects of their life to survive at work
They do not feel secure in their place of work
Their physical or mental health has been affected in some way
The quiet quitting trend suggests that employees feel there is an imbalance between the benefits and costs of their job. Recent events have demonstrated the importance of taking care of our health, quality time with family and loved ones, and simply taking time to recuperate; an underlying theme within the quiet quitters is that “it is not worth it”.
Quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon, especially for those already marginalised in some way. Those with physical or mental ill health may find it difficult to put in the extra hours that have become a norm in current culture, making quiet quitting a viable option. Lack of psychological safety or financial security could mean that rather than addressing the situation or quitting, employees simply do the essentials of their job in exchange for their pay-check.
"50% of the U.S. workforce are made up of quiet quitters." Gallup
How can you help?
Whilst difficult times are inevitable and will bring its challenges, it's important to remember that the way an organisation responds to employees, as well as the team approach, can make all the difference. The team's role in an employee's well-being and performance at work is significant and cannot be overlooked. Here are a few ways teams can support their employees:
Have regular reviews to check in and assess what is working well, what is not working well and what can be learned. In these sessions, help all team members to feel they have a voice and provide alternative modes for employees to communicate their views
Talk to your colleagues to better understand how they are feeling at work. On frequent occasions, take the time to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of others
Keep workloads realistic, offering some flexibility so that both work and life can be enjoyed in tandem. An effective team recognises that its members have different strengths, gaps and circumstances; they work together to achieve goals as a collective
To address the challenges of quiet quitting, focus on motivating and listening to colleagues around you to help create an approach that balances personal and professional needs.
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