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How quiet quitting is changing the workplace

You may have recently come across the term ‘quiet quitting’, whether scrolling through social media or watching the news. Everyone is talking about, and debating, this topic. Is quiet quitting a new trend? Should it even be called quiet quitting? Some are debating that quiet quitting is not really quitting at all, but strictly staying within the requirements of your job requirements – which sounds a little like a work-life balance. But, as with anything. There are pros and cons. 

Let’s explore what quiet quitting is, and you can make up your own mind.

What is quiet quitting?

It seems as if the days of giving it your all to your daily hustle and bustle are a thing of the past. Things like showing up early, staying late, putting in the extra effort and the overtime just don’t happen anymore. 

This new trend sees employees clocking in, doing the complete minimum required of their job, yet still collecting their salary at the end of the month, all the while mitigating the unreasonable pressure that comes with putting in the extra effort. 

Employees who find themselves quietly quitting might be in the process of looking for a new job, or don’t want to quit their current job, but are no longer engaged or motivated to put in any extra effort.

Has remote working influenced this?

It may seem that the ability to work from any place in the world would have very appealing benefits to employees, however, remote working might just contribute to this trend a little more than one might realise. 

When the remote working trend arose with the pandemic, people did not know when to switch off from work. Because work was at home, many people put in the additional hours and effort, and it led to an increase in stress levels and ultimately burnout. Have employees started quiet quitting as a way of dealing with burnout whilst still holding down their jobs? 

Employees are now realising the long-term effects of the lack of boundaries between work time and private time and are starting to build those walls again. Has this contributed to the quiet quitting trend? The jury is still out there, but for the most part, it certainly seems like a contributing factor. There is a great divide between a better work-life balance and being disengaged at work. It is possible to maintain healthy boundaries and remain emotionally invested at work.

Because employees are no longer physically present in the office, they tend to have more flexibility to avoid nominating themselves to stay late, tackle a project, or have additional task requests that come with working in the office. Without the connection and emotional investment of an employee to their job, and a reason they are doing tasks can affect their motivation, engagement, and commitment to the organisation. Quiet quitting no longer provides a place where employees are proud of the contributions they are making to the team, as they are the bare minimum. They are no longer seeing the impact of their work, which also contributes to job dissatisfaction in the long run. 

Although in saying that, there is also the flip side of the coin, and remote work has allowed employees more flexibility, therefore improving the ideal work-life balance. For the most part, employees are no longer expected to sit at their desks from 9 am to 5 pm, but rather work when they are feeling the most productive. 

Read more on how to protect the wellbeing of a hybrid workforce.

Recognising if an employee is quiet quitting

Employees who are in quiet quitting mode start to show a decrease in productivity. Your top performing employees would start to produce at the same level as your average employee, and your average employee would produce the bare minimum to get by. 

A content employee who suddenly starts arguing a lot more or an employee who used to contribute a lot suddenly becomes a quiet employee who no longer engages is a sure sign that an employee has become disengaged and unmotivated. 

An employee who stops contributing their opinions is no longer creative, or no longer contributes to the team is no longer engaged in their work. Adding to that, an employee who no longer takes initiative, and rather just follows instructions may be quietly quitting.

How are managers reacting to quiet quitting?

It seems that there are mixed reactions to this trend. Some managers are tolerant of this type of behaviour, as the shift in the job market makes it a bit harder to replace employees. Others are taking the opposite approach, and firing employees whom they find are slacking or doing the bare minimum, not contributing much to the productivity of the organisation. Some organisations are creating almost unfavourable conditions, so that employees feel that they are no longer satisfied in their jobs, driving them to resign.

What can managers and leaders do to prevent this from happening in their organisations?

Monitor workloads

Managers need to ensure that employees are given a workload they can handle and are provided with the motivation to achieve their targets while acknowledging their efforts. In times of increased workloads, ensure that employees are provided with additional time off for mental rest and personal time. Ensure that the additional work required is short-term, and if it is a longer-term project, consider hiring additional staff, or promoting existing staff to include additional responsibilities. 

Touch base with employees regularly

This does not mean an employee survey every six months or yearly. This means reaching out to employees individually on a more regular basis like weekly or monthly to ensure they are engaged, happy and enjoying what they are doing. Consider what the organisation can further provide to them.

Provide employees with flexibility and choice

Provide employees with their tasks or projects and deadlines, but allow them to work in their own time and at their own pace; when it is most convenient for them. Not all employees enjoy the rigid structure of a 9 to 5 schedule, and if they are trusted to complete tasks by the deadline, it boosts employee engagement and happiness.

Avoid micromanaging

Especially with remote working, employers have had to learn to trust employees a lot more, and employees are enjoying this. If a manager or leader starts to micromanage employees, it leads to employee unhappiness, decreased motivation, and ultimately will decrease productivity, and employees will only give the bare minimum to get by in a day.

Maintain employer/employee boundaries

Understand that employees are focusing more on a work-life balance. Maintain the boundaries by avoiding contacting employees after working hours, correctly allocating tasks and projects that are urgent, and rewarding employees that do go the extra mile with additional time off. 

Recognise and reward achievements

Quiet quitters tend to feel their hard work goes unrecognised and unrewarded- leading to a decrease in motivation to do their jobs. If employees are going above and beyond for the organisation, it is up to the manager or leader to recognise this and reward the employee.

Ensuring employee wellbeing is a primary concern for the organisation

Employees have become more aware of the long-term effects of stress and burnout. Managers, leaders, and organisations need to consider employees’ well-being. This creates a workspace where employees feel psychologically safe, where they can be themselves, and work at their full potential. Encourage employees to take regular breaks to recharge rather than becoming complacent.

Use learning and development programs to boost employee engagement

Providing employees with learning opportunities can increase employee engagement. That’s correlated with higher profits, lower absenteeism, better productivity and increased innovation. 

Employees feel more valued when they have access to ongoing training and development. Emphasising the importance of on-the-job training creates a supportive workplace, and employees who feel appreciated and challenged have greater satisfaction toward their jobs and boosts their morale – motivating them to approach their job duties with more self-confidence.

Learning and development tools also build the employee’s confidence because they have a stronger understanding of the industry and the responsibilities of their job. This confidence could very well push them to perform even better and think of new ideas that help them excel and go above and beyond.

Conclusion

Like most things in life these days social media has sparked this massive trend in the workplace. Coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, and most people’s realisation of the need for a balanced work life, this trend seems to be taking the younger working generation by storm. Make sure you can recognise the signs, and provide employees with a safe, motivating, happy workplace so that there is not even a thought of quiet quitting.

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