Quiet quitting is a hot topic in the workplace these days and it’s a concept with different meanings. It can refer to employees who do only what is necessary and no more (i.e., the bare minimum). They are not working past their scheduled hours, showing up early, or attending voluntary meetings. Another meaning attributed to this phrase is where an employee sets boundaries between their work and personal life. They will give more than the “bare minimum,” but it won’t be done on extended work hours or the weekends because work is not their number one priority. Lastly, the concept is least often used to refer to employees who are checking out of the company. If you were to ask an HR professional what “quiet quitting” really means, they may likely give you one of the first two definitions.
Some legal and HR professionals do not think this concept is new. Rather, the coined phrase, “quiet quitting,” may have taken hold thanks to creative Tik Tokers and YouTubers on social media. No matter that case, it is a phenomenon that is becoming widespread in the workplace leaving employers wondering why it’s happening and how to deal with it.
Many theories exist as to why quiet quitting is common today. Examples include a reprioritization of work over home life due to the prevalence of remote work, poor management leading to resentment of the company and pure economic motivation, especially in a labor market where it’s extremely easy for an employee to make a change.
Companies and their leaders are handling this issue in different ways. Some leaders have just accepted the situation and been tolerant, mostly because of the tight labor market and challenge of replacing employees. Other leaders are not happy with this type of conduct and are firing employees that are slacking off.
Leaders know that losing an employee can be challenging both financially and to the morale of the company. However, having an employee stay and quietly quit can be even worse. Here are examples of how:
- Other employees will need to pick up the burden of their colleagues and take on extra work when necessary.
- The culture and values of the organization may suffer when it comes to the quiet quitters.
- There is less inclusion, teamwork, and passion for the company and job.
- Engaged, excited employees who are willing to go the extra mile create successful organizations. The opposite happens when people are not invested. They will disengage on a chronic basis.
Some signs that your employee may have become a quiet quitter are:
- They become regularly negative
- They seemed to have checked out
- The quality of their work is suffering, and they may be late on deadlines
- They may not be meeting their goals
- They are quiet when they are normally are full of life
- They stopped participating in meeting conversations
- They have attendance issues or are coming in late or leaving early
The good news is there is something you can do about quiet quitting. We mention above that some leaders are accepting it. However, we don’t recommend you just “accept it and forget it” as that can lead to undesirable consequences. The better approach may be to recognize that the workforce has different views about work today and we should work with employees to make their experience more positive to keep them engaged. Engagement is a useful tool to manage a quiet quitter since it allows us to understand what they want and need. The following are some suggestions to get your employees engaged:
- Companies should review core job responsibilities to reflect what work is necessary and what qualifies as extra work. Leaders can then focus on motivating workers to perform their most essential job tasks at a level acceptable to the company. At the same time, employees have space to take a more balanced life approach.
- Invest in your employees. Listen so you can understand what your employees need. Leaders should have one-on-one conversations with their employees so they can clearly see the factors driving employee well-being and performance.
- Connect with your employees. Hold leaders accountable to connect, encourage and incentivize employees.
- Make sure your employees feel appreciated and part of a team.
- Stay Interviews can provide key insights into the employee experience. (Learn more about stay interviews from our previous blog article, Stay Interviews: What They Are and How They Can Benefit Your Company). Leadership should prioritize creating an environment where their employees feel safe speaking up and believe the organization cares about them. A culture should be created where employees have confidence leadership will hear and address their concerns.
Realize that employees value different things in the workplace. Some value career development above everything else while others value a flexible schedule. Others may simply want more pay. Only after speaking and listening to your employees will you be able to address an employee’s unique needs.
Quiet quitting can be a true challenge for employers today. The key to managing it is communication and engagement between the company and the employee.
If you are an employer with questions about this topic or any other HR concern, you can reach our human resources team by calling 724-864-8745 or email us at email@example.com. We will be happy to help!
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