What is quiet quitting?

The term quiet quitting has been all over the press during the last few months, but what is it really all about and why is it something you should be aware of in your organisation?

The term itself was coined on social media and refers to an employee mindset that focuses on doing only what your job demands and nothing more, never going over and above what’s required by your job description, effectively disengaging from your role and employer.

Why is quiet quitting detrimental to employers?

Some might say showing up and fulfilling what is written in your job description every day is perfectly acceptable, but for businesses a low level of employee engagement can result in poor performance. Employees who are present but unproductive can directly impact the bottom line and potentially customer service levels – which is far from ideal.

What does quiet quitting look like in the workplace?

It can present itself in many ways dependant on the individual and their working circumstances, but often a marked change in behaviour is what signals this attitude.

Here are some common warning signs to look out for:

– Chronic disengagement on a regular basis

– Completing tasks only to the minimum set of performance standards

– Isolation from other members of the team

– Withdrawal from any non-necessary conversations, activities, or tasks

– Attendance at meetings but not speaking up or taking any action

– Teammates report having to pick up the slack

Why has quiet quitting become more prevalent lately?

The term may be new, but employees becoming disengaged from their jobs is not a recent phenomenon. There are many reasons why someone may end up behaving in this way; being denied a pay rise, being passed over for promotion or not being given fair recognition for their efforts can all create feelings of discontent. There could also be personal reasons, such as illness or mental health issues so it’s vital not to make assumptions without investigating first.

There are also generational changes at play, with younger workers (Gen Z and Millennials) not wanting to subscribe to the hustle culture of past decades, instead looking for employers who truly value them, consider their wellbeing, and respect their work/life boundaries.

The current cost of living crisis also adds another angle to this mindset, in that some employees are choosing not to leave their current jobs even when they’re unhappy, favouring job security over job satisfaction.

Why is it more important to be aware of quiet quitting now?

Since the covid pandemic a lot has changed in workplace culture and some of it is making quiet quitting harder for employers to spot. Hybrid working and hot desking offices are more common, leading to a lack of human connection and belonging, plus the potential for issues to bubble under the surface for longer than necessary with relationships being managed remotely.

With so much change going on and an increasing lack of day-to-day contact, it’s easy to see why some employees have decided to switch their primary focus to home life and put their commitment to the job into second place. It’s also why employers may find it harder to spot quiet quitters in the first place.

What can employers do to improve this situation?

A happy workforce is a productive one, and engaged employees are much more likely to go the extra mile and work with passion so this should be a key goal for employers. Those that have a genuine connection with the organisation are the people that will help to drive the business forward, increase customer service levels and grow sales, which is more important than ever for post-pandemic recovery.

Inspiring the workforce and boosting employee engagement doesn’t always have to be about financial reward, there are some other ways to tackle and improve the situation:

– Take time to understand their issues; is it stress, burnout, boredom, or conflict?

– Provide opportunities for open conversation with an open-door policy

– Maintain regular 1-2-1’s to discuss progress and goals and give feedback

– Demonstrate active listening to find out what makes them feel valued

– Follow up your conversations with action to build trust

– Communicate the vision and aims of the business to get buy-in from employees and give them a sense of belonging

In many cases just being given the chance to air any frustrations with a simple chat can be enough to turn the situation around. Prior to remote working these conversations would have happened more organically through working in close proximity but being remote requires both employers and employees to make a more focused effort in this area.

What about the employee?

If you’re feeling disengaged at work its worth asking yourself what the real reasons are for this? Have you discussed it with your line manager or with HR? Is it something that has built up over time? Are you feeling cut-off from your team and manager? For some, tackling the issues directly can often resolve the situation, but for others it may be a sign that it’s time to move on.

It’s also important to focus on the practical aspects of the situation. Do you want to progress in the organisation or earn yourself a pay rise in the future? If yes then it’s worth remembering that doing the bare minimum in your job is not going to help you achieve either of these. By not addressing the issues with your employer you are forcing yourself into a vicious cycle where an already difficult situation is unlikely to improve.

For support and guidance on quiet quitting, employee engagement and anything else mentioned in this article please get in touch for an informal chat.