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Falling Prey to Quiet Quitting? What You Need to Know to Positively Impact Your Employees

Quiet Quitting Is All About Employee Engagement and Building Culture

If you are tired of the phrases the Great Resignation or The Big Quit, there is a new term plaguing the employment community – Quiet Quitting.

Quiet quitting (which is not to be confused with its sister term, Quiet Firing) refers to when an employee meets only the minimum job requirements and nothing more. The term recently broke out on social media and refers to employees setting boundaries around their work in an effort to balance work and non-work responsibilities in their lives. Quiet quitting can take many forms, such as not staying late to work on a project, declining non-mandatory meetings, or not taking on extra projects. While Quiet Quitting is trending on social media, the concept is not new. Most would argue it’s mislabeled, and most employees are not quitting but are disengaged and looking to reclaim their work-life balance by redefining the blurred lines of the past few years. The question is, what can employers do about it?

The events of the last few years between the pandemic and social unrest have forced many employees to reconsider what is important to them and closely guard how they spend their time. The notion of quiet quitting has resonated with Gen Z and millennials most as they take stock of their lives and look at their work and personal lives holistically. In a study by Deloitte, 84% of millennials have experienced burnout. Specifically, nearly half have left a job due to being burned out. Quiet quitting is a way for employees to set boundaries and prevent physical and mental exhaustion, as well as decreased accomplishment. Employers need to understand that employees are craving these boundaries and that, doing so, does not make an employee any less productive or a quitter. Understanding that these boundaries are important to employees is the first step in activating a caring culture that attracts and retains employees.

Setting boundaries isn’t only about flexible scheduling. Employers need to look closely at how they value flexibility in the workplace. Often, a company touts their hybrid workplace and schedule as the defining aspect of their culture, but are you saying one thing but valuing something else?

You Don’t Know If You Don’t Ask

Quiet Quitting may signal that employees are disengaged and dissatisfied with the work culture. Employers can get to the root of the problem by asking their employees a series of questions about the current state of their job. Conducting exit interviews with employees is too late. Employers can implement stay or employee engagement interviews to understand what motivates their employees to come to work daily. Additionally, spend time with your employees - get to know them and their career development goals. They’re likely to follow your engagement lead once you’ve shown an interest in them.

Clarify Expectations

As you look to increase engagement, your employees’ expectations about their job can’t be ignored. Often there is a disconnect between employers and their workers relative to job expectations. Monthly or quarterly check-ins increase lines of communication and allow the employer and employee to clarify expectations together. As the lines of communication increase, talk to employees about your expectations for their position so that you’re all on the same page.

Don’t Forget Your Managers

It’s fair to say that the workplace landscape has changed, but have we trained managers effectively to lead a hybrid workforce? It’s not surprising that employees are establishing new priorities, as employers struggle with balancing business objectives and equipping managers with the skills to measure performance, communicate effectively, and execute strategies in new hybrid work environments.

Rather than accepting another label in the workplace, the notion of Quiet Quitting is an opportunity for managers to take action and engage employees. A 2022 Gallup study shows that 36% of US employees are engaged in their work and workplace. That means 64% are disengaged. Working together to chart a career path and getting buy-in on job expectations and goals helps people feel valued and cared for. People don’t want to be ignored. Nothing is worse than radio silence from management.

Finally, encourage your managers to model good work behaviors. Treat an employee’s time with respect. Reward and recognize positive employee performance. At the end of the day, everyone wants to know their work is appreciated and meaningful. Saying and showing your appreciation will go a long way!

While it's getting a lot of exposure now, people setting boundaries for work-life balance isn't anything groundbreaking. Looking to dig in further on this topic? Check out our recent podcast: Shhh...Quiet Quitters at Work.