All across America, people are reprioritizing their lives. The global pandemic pushed many to make new choices about their work-life balance. The great resignation is still in full swing and employers are worried about losing their key team members. Besides staff quitting in the search for a great place to work, a new trend has emerged -“Quiet quitting”. The phrase exploded into popular culture recently on TikTok..
What is “Quiet quitting?”
Quiet quitting is when employees, many on the younger side, begin slowing down their efforts to do what bosses think is required of them. Quiet quitting seems to have negative connotations. For some, it does mean mentally checking out from work, but that does not reflect the true situation. It doesn’t necessarily mean slacking off or sabotaging projects the team is working on. It does mean you refuse to be taken advantage of. They do this so that they can focus on priorities outside of their job. Folks now want to separate their identity from what they do for a living, and who they are as people.
Proponents of 'quiet quitting' include mental health experts. Setting boundaries at work means you have more time to pursue any side hustles, sports, or hobbies. Doing this boosts mental and physical health and in turn, raises productivity levels. Boundaries are an important part of protecting our mental and physical health.
Quiet quitters won’t take on extra work for no extra pay. They do what is expected of them, but don’t go above and beyond unless they feel like doing so. Quiet quitting is not about actually quitting the job you have. It means doing the job that you’re hired to do and then going home at the end of the day and living your own life in the way you want to live it.
The Amazing Workplace
For anyone in a leadership position, the best antidote to this quiet quitting trend is to create an amazing workplace. When employees are engaged in what they are doing and they're in tune with the purpose and values of the company, they enjoy working there.
“Quiet quitting” can be a symptom of employees not connecting to their managers or the core values of the business. If that happens you are saddled with disengaged workers whose interests and priorities are elsewhere. This year U.S. nonfarm worker productivity in the second quarter saw its steepest annual drop since 1948, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is more going on here than meets the eye.
An amazing workplace is built upon shared values and goals. The entire organization is working towards something that they all want to achieve. Teams that work together in a collaborative supportive environment that shares common goals will be more likely to pull together and go the extra mile.
In addition to a strong shared culture, work to provide your team members and leaders with a sound and enjoyable work-life balance. This includes their annual pay and any benefits or extra concessions they may receive. Truly understanding the people who work for you and what they need and want is part of building a great place to work.
Remote work is now normal for many. At the very least, a hybrid work model is becoming far more accessible and acceptable than going into an office or campus every day. Although there are many positives for remote terms and hybrid ways of working, it’s also far easier to feel less involved or separated from the team. This can cause feelings of discontent and resentment and lead to quiet quitting.
If managers and team leaders don't build a rapport with their team members, a faceless culture can emerge. When that happens there is no soul to the business. Remote working can lead to serious "scope creep." Because you aren’t in an office you can get saddled with a workload that is far higher than if you were in the company of the people who are asking you to do something. There is no understanding of your personal world and what you have to deal with in your life. A subjective reality takes emotional intelligence, and not everyone has that in them.
The Society for Human Resource Management found that remote work can cause severe burnout. They call it Zoom fatigue. Back-to-back virtual calls getting scheduled with no breaks can create havoc with a person's health, both physical and mental. They recommended healthy boundaries for a better work-life balance such as not taking work home with you.
They also said that not checking work messages outside of work hours is a big part of setting boundaries. The expectation by a boss or a culture that you will be available to respond to emails or messages at all hours can lead to highly stressed employees. These are some of the issues that are creating quiet quitters.
A side note with regards to "Zoom fatigue" — staring at a computer screen for hours on end can become tiresome. It's easy to check out mentally when you aren't actively participating in the conversation. On top of that, there's the factor of introversion. We may not realize it, but constantly seeing a small box on your screen with a video feed of yourself in it can turn our attention inward. "How's my hair looking? Is my background distracting or messy? Is the lighting ok? Do I look tired?" All of these questions bouncing around in our heads can introvert us and after hours of that non-stop, the fatigue and introversion really sets in.
Two easy solutions to this phenomenon are 1. Look for the "Hide Self View" in the video options on Zoom. It's amazing how quickly our attention shifts to the rest of the people in the meeting as soon as we stop seeing ourselves in the video gallery. 2. Go for a walk and extrovert when you're done with your meetings for the day. Get outside and breathe some fresh air, look at the trees, etc. Get extroverted. Even if you just walk around the block, it's a great counter-measure for all the inward-looking of the day.
The downside of quiet quitting
There is a downside to quiet quitting - productivity can suffer if your team members are checking out. If you are a start-up or a new venture, you’ll need people who are invested and engaged to be there with you. If they are quiet quitters you may not get to where you need to be.
Unfortunately, this low productivity can spread to other employees and affect the profitability of the company. If that continues too long, it could result in employees being laid off.
The solution to quiet quitting
People spend at least half their time at work. If an employee is truly not happy and engaged at work, encourage them to take stock of their life and decide what it is they want to do — what makes them feel fulfilled. Rather than quiet quitting, and hoping to find joy elsewhere, suggest that they take advantage of the options available right now. They can go and do what makes them happy and fulfilled rather than wasting time in a job they don't like and don't want to do.
Create an amazing workplace that cares for the employees, where it's fun to go to work, and every day is stimulating and fulfilling.
Giving your best in everything you do is more fulfilling than just doing the minimum because you are not committed. Yes, there are many options for young people to make money today. However, not everyone of them is equipped to be an entrepreneur. If your workplace is vibrant, and the people who work there love their jobs, you will attract the right employees who want to be there and will give their very best.