Quiet Quitting: How to Manage ‘Quiet Quitters’
Quiet Quitting may be a new phrase for an old phenomenon: burned-out employees who mentally check out while still showing up for work each day. What’s driving this issue in the context of current times, and are there new perspectives an employer can take to help employees find their lost mojo at work? This article offers a few ideas.
Every employee, every day, makes a decision: Are they only willing to do the bare minimum work to keep their paychecks coming? Or are they ready to go the extra mile in their work? “Quiet quitters” frown upon the idea that work should be the primary focus of their life. They envision a work environment where hard work is recognized and compensated, security of tenure guaranteed, and work-life balance prioritized.
Let’s look at the bigger picture.
Quiet quitting became viral in the summer of 2022, courtesy of a TikTok video. In the short clip, Zeid Leppelin, a musician, explains how to leave the hustle mentality and stop going the extra mile at work. He opines that work is not life. Lots of people responded to the video sharing their quiet quitting journeys. The consensus was that employees must say ‘no’ to unpaid work and decline to answer work-related messages off the clock.
But is this a new phenomenon?
No, not at all. Do you remember working with colleagues who try to look busy or distracted to avoid assignments? Or have you heard of George Costanza of Seinfeld, who would act annoyed and pretend to be busy to avoid new tasks? You most likely have interacted with this before. The issue is that the 2022 version of quiet quitting could be different, especially in the wake of the Great Resignation, remote work, and the exponential growth of the gig economy.
Many quiet quitters are not lazy or deliberately “mentally checking out” on their jobs. They are burned out. Theirs’ is a cry for help. Employers need to tune in and re-engage them.
What the Data Say
Up to 67% of US employees could be quiet quitting. Gallup finds a decline in engagement and employer satisfaction among remote Gen Z and younger millennials, those below age 35.
Tips to Increase Employees’ Engagement
Ask for feedback
As noted above, quiet quitting is often a cry for help. Gallup finds the best requirement and habit to develop for successful managers is having one meaningful weekly conversation with each team member — 15-30 minutes. This dialogue differs from “downward” communication, where the manager speaks, and employees listen. With one-way communication, you may never get a feel of what your workforce thinks about the organization or how they cope.
Proactively gathering thoughts from peers, supervisors, and direct reports from junior employees can shed some light on issues. In many cases, less-seasoned employees can offer honest perspectives (especially if anonymity is guaranteed) about communication strategies and organizational culture. They can help you spot anything that can negatively impact engagement and productivity.
Model ideal work-life balance
If your organization’s culture encourages toxic habits, it is time to focus on the top of the tree. Unless it is urgent or part of the regular schedule, don’t send those midnight emails or weekend Slack messages. They give a wrong impression about the company. Ask Gen Zers about this culture, and they will tell you, “I didn’t survive COVID-19 lockdowns to end up staying in my apartment all weekend because my manager expects me to be online and available. No, I better ‘quiet quit.'”
In most cases, the cycle of burnout starts at the top. Your employees could just be trying to break the cycle by deleting that work app.
Encourage healthy work-life balance even on a typical working day. Set up a clear communication policy. Still, offer comfortable breaks between tasks, meetings, or calls.
Raises and bonuses are a great way to support your employees. The old annual review and cost of living adjustment should not be your guiding principle. You may consider other benefits such as retirement saving plans, health insurance, fertility benefits, and paid time off. Also, mental health assistance, pet insurance, and childcare help are trending ways to acknowledge your workforce life outside work. Workers are less likely to quit if their efforts have financial benefits.
If you are competitive with compensation, also consider intrinsic motivators that build a sense of mastery, autonomy, and purpose. Depending on the person, motivation could spring from creative opportunities, professional leadership, community involvement, or a culture that includes fun and humor.
Recognize good work
Most employees want to feel respected and recognized. There is no room to tell employees to “take it or leave it” in the current job market. It is not always about serious perks or crazy pizza parties; a simple ‘you are doing a good job’ could be all it takes to motivate your employees.
Quiet quitting has little to do with employees being unwilling to work harder or more creatively. Instead, it is more about managers’ ability to create a culture where employees are not counting minutes until their shift ends. Do not wait for quiet quitters to jump ship. Be the support they need.
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