From LinkedIn to TikTok, “quiet quitting” is a buzzword the business world cannot escape. With over 5 million views on the social media platform Tiktok, this trending topic isn’t describing a style of handing in your resignation but rather a rejection of the “work hustle” mentality which can have a positive or negative impact on your organization. On one hand, it can mean the setting of healthy boundaries in the employee/employer relationship which can mean good things for the long-term viability of your most prized assets – your people. On the other hand, it can mean, or lead to, employee disengagement which must either be preemptively addressed or swiftly dealt with.
TikTok creator Zaid Khan briefly explains in a video posted to the platform, “I recently learned about this term called ‘quiet quitting,’ where you’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”
Khan continues, “You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it’s not, and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.”
The reality is that we live in a world where assertiveness and hard work are required for many to achieve their goals and aspirations however a healthy balance between ambition and quality of life is vital for sustained growth and employee satisfaction. While the quiet quitting trend isn’t something to ignore, as it may be an indicator that something isn’t quite right in your organizational culture, it may not be cause for as much distress as the word ‘quitting’ implies.
With many employees finding a preferred, and debatably more productive routine in work from home positions, the American workforce has begun to weigh the costs and benefits of a career that asks them to perform additional tasks outside their job description without compensation.
Let’s take a closer look at what quiet quitting is, and more importantly, what it is not.
What Does Quiet Quitting Look Like?
Despite the negative connotations of the phrase “quiet quitting,” the application of the term in the proper context, many argue, is closer to what work should look like. Popular internet opinion on the “new negative talent crisis” describes quiet quitting as a misnomer and says it is doing exactly what is asked of your job description and not “leaning in” to perform the extra work of two or more employees just to earn good favor.
Quiet Quitting isn’t sneaking out of the office without a peep, never to be seen again. It’s the setting of a healthy boundary between what an employee will or won’t do. Many say it’s upholding their contract. Quiet quitting may look like an employee refusing to respond to work communications after office hours. It may look like an employee refusing to take on an additional project outside their normal purview, using their full lunch hour, or even a commitment to leaving the office on time every day, even if work is incomplete.
Leadership Consultant Selena Rezvani says in her own TikTok video, “I think it’s a good thing. The youngest generations at work are rejecting the idea of hustle culture!” She smiles as she continues, “They’re rejecting putting their mental health below their performance goals. With quiet quitting you’re doing what you’re paid for and not more.”
As her closing statement, Rezvani relates the mentality behind the movement back to the economy, “If the inflation rate is 8.5%, and you get a 1% raise… what do employers expect? I see this as a healthy evolution that can actually equalize the employee-employer relationship more.”
When Quiet Quitting Leads to Disengagement
From a management perspective, you may be concerned that quiet quitting is an indicator of a disengaged employee, one who’s newfound perspective may affect your other staff. The difficult reality of this concern is that you must answer the question of why employees are quiet quitting. It could be reasoned that if employees are already participating in quiet quitting, there’s something amiss within your organization. As Rezvani pointed out in her TikTok statement on the trending hashtag, it could be an effect of the state of the economy, or it could go deeper than that.
Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace and well-being at Gallup told Today, “Managers are really important, and that does start at the top. It is important to have the right kind of conversations at the right time so that people do know what’s expected of them and their role, and how their work connects to something bigger.”
If your employees are truly unhappy, their quiet quitting may extend beyond the mentality of only doing what is asked of them. Some signs of quiet quitting that could be cause for concern are:
- Attendance Issues:Either showing up late, leaving early, or missing meetings, these absentee qualities may indicate something further than quiet quitting is amiss.
- Less Contribution:Be it waning productivity, or less input in meetings or on team projects. The overall lack of involvement in what could be considered “the bare minimum.”
- Lackluster Attitude:Maybe this employee was once a stellar candidate for promotions, or maybe they were a middle-of-the-herd type, but a distinct negative alteration in an employee’s attitude toward work may be an indicator that they’re not just quiet quitting.
How Management Can Help
Improving the employee experience can be a great way to help counterbalance the mentality of quiet quitting and lead to productive boundaries without disengagement. There’s a lot of factors that contribute to a positive company culture, and clear, open communication with your staff is one of them. Be sure they know what is expected of them in their roles, and an open-door policy on concerns and feedback is a best practice. Survey your staff often to gauge their perspectives and do your best to deliver improvements where you’re able.
Additionally, you may want to consider the following:
- Realistic Workloads:Many roles in the workplace are meant to adapt and evolve. Ensure than when a role in your organization grows, the workload asked of the employees serving in that role or department isn’t increased beyond the reasonable capacity of your staff. To remedy this, consider hiring additional, even temporary or contract workers through a staffing agency.
- Work-Life Balance:Help employees manage work-related stress and burn out by respecting your employee’s boundaries. Consider that if an employee has denied a project, their agenda may already be full, or perhaps that late-night email might be able to wait until the morning if it means reaching out after office hours. Mental well-being should always be a priority.
- Proper Compensation:Those participating in quiet quitting may be more willing to take on additional roles, responsibilities, and projects if they are offered financial compensation to account for the increase in workplace duties. This should also take the form of an updated job description to include new tasks, and a new employment contract for the effected employees.
- Forging the Future:Engage your employees in discussions of their future. Supporting your employees career growth with clear, actionable tasks can help solidify confidence in the value of their current work as it applies to their future prospects.
The Future of Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitting, like the movement for hybrid and work-from-home roles and the workforce desire for more community-committed organizations, is unlikely to go away. It’s up to employers to help their employees feel that not only is their labor valued, but they are valued and their boundaries are respected. By actively working to avoid employee burnout with simple tools like clear communication and prioritizing tasks, employers stand to cultivate a more engaged staff that values their contributions to the organization, as well as feels their lives beyond the workplace hold value as well.
Not every quiet quitter is simply in need of the proper motivation. Sometimes a disengaged employee is a disengaged employee, and actions must be taken. However, it is important to remember that those participating in quiet quitting are making a choice to draw a line between what time belongs to their career, and what time belongs to them. Anything additional is objectionable without due reason. In most cases, the bold behavior isn’t malicious, it’s defensive, and the employee engaging in this activity is passively asking for someone in the chair of command to step in, identify areas of concern, and provide remedies.
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