Have you ever had a job where you clocked in, did just enough work to scrape by, and were back out the door the second the clock hits 5 pm? You might not hate the work itself, but you definitely don’t feel inclined to do more than what is asked of you.
This situation has coined a new terminology in recent months: quiet quitting. Quiet quitting can be defined as the opposite of going above and beyond at work. While the term might not have anything to do with literally quitting your job, it relates to quitting the emotional investment and personal engagement with one’s job.
How did it start?
There are a number of factors that led to the culmination of quiet quitting. Employee engagement has been on a downward trend for the past few years, with a recent study published by Gallup showing that only about 32% of employees considered themselves engaged with their work. On top of that, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, there have been increased opportunities for remote work and a surge in encouragement for better work-life balance.
If you notice your employees seem to be more resigned than normal, here are some ways to fight quiet quitting in a way that promotes employee-wellbeing and avoids burnout. This phenomenon should be seen as a chance to improve your workplace environment for both your and your employees’ benefit.
Plan better and communicate ahead of time. As a manager or boss, it is up to you to prepare ahead regarding workload. If there’s a chance you will need extra time or work from an employee, don’t wait until the last minute to have that conversation with them.
Keep increases in workload short-term. Although it would be great if bosses never had to assign extra work or ask for overtime, things come up and the working world is no less perfect than any other world. However, employees need days off and time away from their work to have a mental reset and spend time doing other important things. Working overtime for extended periods is not sustainable in the long run. If things do take longer than expected, consider giving some extra incentive with this workload, such as a promotion or bonus.
Ask for help when needed. If you cannot promise that the help necessary for a department will be short-term, look outside of your current employees to freelancers, contractors, or maybe someone outside of that department who can take on the extra work. Perhaps consider hiring a new person for that department.
Compensate accordingly. Pay discrepancies are one of the leading causes of quiet quitting. If an employer is continually giving their employees extra responsibilities despite the employee’s schedule, current workload, and protests, this gives the notion that the employer only cares about work output and not employee wellbeing. Employees can feel taken advantage of without competitive pay, which is why it is important to keep compensation a part of the conversation. And remember, benefits can take the place of forms other than money, such as perks, flexibility, recognition, etc.
Build relationships with your employees. Having frequent and meaningful conversations with your employees about their work and well-being is a great way to establish a line of communication and keep a gauge on potential quiet quitters. That way, if they are ever having trouble with work, they are more likely to bring the problem directly to you instead of quiet quitting without letting you know how they feel.
Support employee wellbeing. There are many ways to do this. You can encourage breaks and time off while your employees are in the workplace. This helps preserve their time to recuperate and continue to bring their best self to the office. You can also give kudos to a job well done; a simple thank you goes a long way. Ultimately, the goal is to be seen as an ally to your employees and have them know you are on their side, not a danger to their well-being.
Following these recommendations cannot guarantee that the issue of quiet quitting disappears entirely, but as the employer, the responsibility of creating an environment where your employees feel valued and respected for their hard work is ultimately up to you. Together, both sides can choose to unite over this phenomenon to emerge a more productive task force that is valued as such.