“Quiet quitting” remains the latest buzz phrase and a rising trend in the global workforce, particularly among millennials and gen Zs.
It all started when a 20-something engineer Zaid Khan decided to post about the idea of “quiet quitting” through the short-form video platform TikTok. He explains what the term meant and to put it simply, it’s when employees do the bare minimum at work and ‘quit’ going beyond what is expected of them in their jobs. They reject the notion that work should be the central anchor of their lives.
Despite its name, “quiet quitters” don't actually leave the company, but they take a step back from their engagement as well as emotional investment in their jobs. After the video went viral, the rest was history. The phrase became mainstream and created a wave of quiet quitters around the world.
A Gallup report found that only 15% of employees are actively engaged at work, in which up to 85% could be “quiet quitting”. Moreover, Google searches for “how to quit a job” are now higher than ever as of recent.
So what caused the shift in attitude? Aren’t they just slacking off? Truth be told, it’s more complex than that.
3 Common factors that drive “quiet quitting”:
#1 Low appreciation of employees at work
When employees don’t feel they are cared for, they will naturally stop caring. It’s a common retaliation towards abusive employers, poor pay, and exploiting jobs.
#2 Excess workload causing burnout
Believe it or not, most employees actually want to be engaged in their work and perform their best. But when they find themselves in routines that destroy their work-life balance, they may start feeling burned out and lose their sense of purpose in their tasks. As a result, they become dissatisfied and disengaged at work.
#3 Herd mentality
We’ve seen the Great Resignation where the world witnessed a large wave of resignations. As individuals watch their teammates leave, those who are left behind may feel less motivated to give their all or even join the ranks of those resigning.
Now, the million-dollar question: How can HR combat this phenomenon and possibly prevent it from the beginning?
5 tangible steps to manage quiet quitting.
#1 Communicating early & often is key
If the only time you converse with your employees is during performance appraisals, there is a high chance they will be quiet quitters. Nobody wants to feel unappreciated or ignored. So be sure to have regular check-ins to hear how your employees are feeling about work. Consistently give praise when they’ve done something right and genuinely care for them. By striving to communicate honestly and frequently, you help prevent “quiet quitting” from happening in the first place.
#2 Find them a suitable role that they’re interested in
Truthfully, nobody can be engaged at work 100% of the time. But what you can do is look for changes in behavior. Whenever you feel as though your employees are demotivated for a fairly long time, ask them about their work and how they feel about it. Once they open up, find new assignments that align with their interests or career objectives.
Alternatively, if the nature of the business allows, you may also put them on projects or have them operate within a team. With common goals and defined responsibilities, your employees will most likely be more motivated and enthusiastic working in a team.
#3 Democratize the workplace
Give open autonomy to those closest to the task and let them interact directly with relevant parties. Workers will feel more motivated and empowered when they can actively participate in the task and decision-making processes. Rather than just being tactical work bees, democratizing the workplace enhances collaboration and productivity as trust is established.
#4 Encourage breaks when it becomes too much
When you notice a sudden dip in your employees’ engagement or participation at work, it’s most probably a signal that may indicate your employees are struggling and might simply need a break. When this happens, you can empower your staff to take the time off to recharge and regroup instead of giving up.
HR can also get creative by planning field trips, implementing coordinated breaks, or just having company night outs to help your staff take a break from their strict working hours and deadlines.
#5 Last but not least, be a great role model
If you want your employees to constantly be motivated and perform their best, you as their leader should do the same as well. Plain and simple.
Quiet quitting stems from many things but the major cause of it all? Unhealthy work cultures. Employees are simply retaliating by silently retreating from exhausting work demands. That is why it is so important for HR and leaders to take action to restore not only employees’ engagement but their mental and physical well-being as well. Once you have that settled, you will sidestep the dangers of quiet quitting.
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