The internet has been raging over this “new trend” called quiet quitting. But is it actually new?
The idea of employees going through the motions or working to rule is not a new one, but the sudden popularity of a new term for it indicates a gap for businesses between what they think is going on with their employees and what's actually happening.
Before we explore a possible remedy for quiet quitting, let’s learn more about what it is and why it's happening.
What is Quiet Quitting?
Quiet quitting is when an employee starts to pull back and does the bare legal minimum to keep a job that no longer motivates or fulfils them.
“They’re simply establishing better work-life boundaries by doing what’s necessary to stay employed but not breaking their backs to surpass expectations,” explains Global News.
The concept is also referred to as ‘’work-to-rule’ or ‘lying flat.’
It’s the opposite of another concept: quiet firing. Quiet firing happens when employers demoralize workers enough that they decide to leave on their own, according to Global News.
Here are some examples of what quiet firing might look like:
- Assigning a lot of tasks just when the clock hits five o’clock
- Setting unrealistic deadlines.
- Showing little to no appreciation.
- Not providing financial incentives/bonuses.
- Killing projects and not assigning their people to new ones.
And the list goes on...
Why Are People Quietly Quitting Today?
We sifted through quite a few articles about quiet quitting published recently in a search to find out what’s driving it.
Here’s a list of just some of the reasons people are quietly quitting today:
- Changing workplace demographic - The trend is resonating strongly with those Gen Z and Millennial knowledge workers fighting to rewrite the rules of the workplace.
- Aftermath of the pandemic - Coming out of the pandemic, people are generally tired, frustrated, and socially disconnected.
- Burnout - We're living in an era of unprecedented burnout after the “Great Resignation” of 2021 during which nearly 4 million employees left their jobs each month on average, according to the Washington Post.
- Psychologically unsafe work environments - Research shows that for many employees, quiet quitting is a result of being in a psychologically unsafe work environment for too long.
- Weak Employee-Manager relationships - Quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees where they are not counting the minutes until quitting time.
- Re-thinking of work/life balance - Employees in general have been going through a period of re-evaluation of how work should fit into their lives.
- Desire to enjoy life more – Today's employees no longer feel the need to spend five days of a week working an eight- or nine-hour workday when they can be out and about experiencing life.
- Personal life - Poor mental health and challenges in family and personal lives have also been noted as major drivers of quiet quitting.
What Are Some Signs Of Quiet Quitting?
Quiet quitting can show up in a variety of ways. Some signs of quiet quitting may include:
- Diminished motivation
- Low engagement in tasks
- Limited communication with colleagues
- Cynical attitude toward work
- Team members picking up the slack
- Withdrawal from any non-mandatory tasks
- Being passive and quiet during meetings
- Never pitching any new ideas
- Establishing more boundaries
These behaviors can have a ripple effect throughout an organization and one quiet quitter can easily become many if not addressed by the organization.
What Can Organizations Do To Address And Prevent Quiet Quitting?
First, organizations need to accept the reality that quiet quitting is happening and no company is immune to it - even companies with consistently high employee engagement scores.
Then, they need to take action to address and prevent it, starting by collecting meaningful feedback from their employees.
“One key reason why companies have been caught off guard by the 'great resignation' and 'quiet quitting' trends is because employee engagement surveys are not well-suited for addressing individual motivations or at identifying real issues that are undermining individual motivation,” said Mike Klein, an internal communication expert who works heavily with qualitative research.
"'An employee engagement survey is great if you want to be able to pat yourself on the back for having 82% “engagement." But it’s lousy at helping you predict when and why 18, 25, or 50% of your employees would choose to leave. Adding some open-ended questions – looking at how employees see company priorities and their own priorities – would add some needed insights before people quietly retreat.
'"Baselining the extent to which employees are engaging with internal communication channels can provide additional valid insights as well." The solution starts with measurement and measurement starts with conducting better surveys.
How Can Internal Communications Help?
As the voice of the company, the Internal communications team can have a significant impact on quiet quitting. Communicating effectively between leadership and the workforce influences so many aspects of the employee experience.
Effective internal comms can:
- Help employees feel safer and happier in their work environment
- Give employees a clear understanding of their purpose and future in the organization
- Increase transparency about what’s going on in the business
These are just a few ways internal comms can help, but as mentioned earlier, if there’s one place to start it’s with measurement. Before you can develop an internal comms strategy to curb quiet quitting before it spreads like wildfire across the organization, you need to better understand your workforce and your employee engagement score is just not going to cut it. Conducting better employee surveys is absolutely crucial.
Learn How to Run Better Employee Surveys
Take this 120-Minute Masterclass, plus free, private 30-Minute Consultation with Mike Klein on September 22nd.
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