We’ve heard it on the news, read it in our social media feeds and experienced it in our very own workplaces: quiet quitting. Talk of this trend has taken the internet by storm. Polarizing opinions are thrown up in every which way.
Writing a blog post about quiet quitting felt like writing about a secretive, taboo subject. Both sides have fair points and reasonable expectations. Employees want to be valued. They want a good work-life balance and an opportunity to grow. Spending 40 hours of your week doing something that you’re not engaged in takes a serious toll on someone.
On the other hand, companies want productive employees. They want to foster an environment where everyone can succeed and perform. Engaged employees are the best employees, simply because they enjoy what they do and with whom they do it. Companies should care about these things in order to boost retention rates and productivity.
Let’s dive into quiet quitting. We’ll talk about why people are motivated to quietly quit their positions, as well as some opportunities for employers to stop the movement in a respectful way. At the end of the day, we want happy employees and happy companies.
What is quiet quitting?
According to LinkedIn, “quiet quitting is about rejecting the notion that work has to take over one’s life and that employees should go above and beyond what their job descriptions entail.” And it can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. Some may choose to pass up extra assignments, while others choose to close their laptops at precisely 5pm.
Quiet quitting is not a new behavior, it simply has a new name. Think back 5 years ago, pre-pandemic, pre-Great Resignation, we can all pinpoint that coworker who didn’t go “above and beyond.” It may be fair to say they were quiet quitting. This not-so-new reality has driven the internet into a tailspin.
This “phenomenon” has sparked a never-before seen battle between employees and companies. It is important to dig into both viewpoints on the issue: the employer and the employee.
Why is quiet quitting happening?
There can be several reasons one chooses to participate in quiet quitting. Following the Great Resignation, many employees jumped from their previous job and into positions that paid more, provided more flexibility or offered better benefits. Then we witnessed the Great Regret, where some of these individuals found that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Another huge factor contributing to the quiet quitting movement is the lack of engagement and abundance of burnout in the workplace. According to Gallup, “32% of full- and part-time employees working for organizations are now engaged, while 17% are actively disengaged.” With engagement rates continuing to fall over the past few years and, “nearly half (49 percent) of American employees say that they are burned out from their jobs,” according to Eagle Hill Consulting, employees are finding it easier to simply step back and quiet quit. Let’s dive into some factors that employees may be seeking to accomplish through quiet quitting.
Employees don’t feel valued
When engagement is low, odds are employees are not feeling as valued as they once did. Value can look like many different things and often varies from person to person. Some employees see value as verbal encouragement and feedback, while others see value in compensation.
Employees want to see a reward for the time and energy they put into the work they do. They want praise and feedback. They want to be recognized for their achievements, as opposed to feeling like a number on a balance sheet. In today’s society, people want their quality of work to represent their value instead of their quantity.
In addition to encouragement, feedback and a sense of caring in the workplace, employees expect to be compensated fairly for the work they do. The Great Resignation and the Great Regret movements shined a huge spotlight on pay discrepancies. These discrepancies may have played a role in job hopping and an overall dissatisfaction at work.
As mentioned earlier, with 49% of Americans feeling burnt out at work, people do not feel valued. Having extra work thrown at them like a workhorse without an adjustment in compensation just adds to the feeling of being burnt out. They expect their compensation to match the work they are expected to provide.
On the flip side, salaries were heavily increased and big promises were made by potential employers during the Great Resignation, encouraging people to hop from job to job. Then some employees fell into the Great Regret and their new job wasn’t everything they wanted it to be. In turn, these employees feel stuck in our current job market. They may have priced themselves out from future opportunities and resort to quiet quitting.
Work-life balance is lacking
Some individuals seek a better work-life balance. This is a fair request, to a point… Everyone deserves their own time where they can pursue their own interests and take care of their needs. The desire for better work-life balance played a part in the Great Resignation. People sought a better balance.
This is another big motivator for quiet quitting. Some individuals have set a boundary to open their laptops at 9 am and quickly power down at 5pm. There is not anything inherently wrong with this notion… but it can impact your long-term goals.
Sometimes there are tight deadlines and long projects. These ebbs and flows may require you to work a little later than your traditional hours. This is natural in most industries, however when long hours become the norm and not the exception, there is an issue.
Another long-term factor to consider is your career. Do you want to be a CEO one day? Well, closing your laptop at 5pm on the dot and doing the bare minimum in your job description may not help your career journey. You may be passed up on promotions or miss out on work experience needed in new positions.
It’s the wrong fit
Have you ever purchased something, brought it home and changed your mind about it? It wasn’t everything you wanted it to be? Well that can happen when starting a new position.
The labor market saw great opportunities during the Great Resignation. Many people did not want to pass up on a shiny new opportunity that offered more compensation and flexibility. However, the Great Regret followed for some. The shiny new job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be… and that’s okay. In fact, according to CNBC, 21% of employees switched jobs in the last 12 months. Of those employees, 40% are already looking for their next position.
This reality happens all the time. And it also happened well before the Great Resignation and Great Regret. Sometimes you get into a position and realize that the culture doesn’t align with your values. Maybe there is a lack of growth opportunity and upward mobility. Some things you learn after the interviews and offer letters and other times, you were sold something that didn’t come to fruition. When an employee feels like they are stuck in their position, it can be easier to stick it out with some strict boundaries.
How can companies respond to quiet quitting?
As a company, you want your employees to be engaged. Their engagement is what drives excitement, innovation and ultimately results. In fact, according to Dale Carnegie, “companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.” The companies that can respond quickly and identify the underlying factors have the opportunity to get ahead of their competitors and others that hire the same type of talent. Companies can conduct employee engagement surveys and build stronger relationships with their employees.
Conduct employee engagement surveys
The best way to understand the problem within your organization is through an employee engagement survey. This allows you to identify the issues your company is facing from the source. Creating and distributing an anonymous survey to everyone in your organization will shine light on the next course of action.
After collecting your survey results, you’ll be able to positively impact your employees’ experiences. Without a survey and doing the research, you may make changes that do not directly affect your employees’ issues. Let’s say you don’t send out an employee engagement survey and decide to install a new vending machine. Maybe the employees are more concerned with upward mobility, therefore the vending machine (while nice) may not actively get them engaged.
The survey results will allow you to determine whether you’re compensating your employees correctly, whether they feel valued in the workplace or whether or not the company culture needs to change. These surveys will allow you to target any issue your employees are facing and address it head on.
Build relationships with your employees
Good employee engagement surveys take time to create, distribute and ultimately make a change. In the meantime, get to know your employees. Form strong relationships with them. This is the easiest way to show how much you value each employee for who they are and what they bring to the table.
Setting aside 30 minutes a week to chat with your employees through 1-on-1’s will make them feel recognized. This recognition builds trust and with trust comes more engagement. The employee may even tell you where they feel something is lacking in the workplace. You can’t expect every employee to feel comfortable approaching their manager with issues unless there is a sense of trust and mutual respect. Building relationships allows both employees and managers to feel comfortable in confiding with one another. Employees want to feel valued and giving them a few minutes a day to talk about their accomplishments and personal life quickly makes them feel appreciated and cared for.
Relationships between companies and their employees should be built on mutual respect. Employees should be engaged and want to bring their value to the company. Meanwhile companies should care about their employees and demonstrate their appreciation.
If you want to quiet quit, that is entirely your right and choice. We would encourage you to find a new position where you are engaged and where work doesn’t feel like work. Happy employees are engaged employees. Engaged employees aren’t burnt out. Finding a solution to engagement and burnout are the key to getting through the quiet quitting movement.
If you’re quietly quitting and would like to find your next career move, reach out to us. If you’re a company looking for more guidance on employee engagement surveys or ways to boost your retention rates, schedule a free consultation with us today. Together we can mend the relationship between employees and employers.