Recently a new term in the world of resignation has surfaced – quiet quitting! This term basically refers to the idea that an employee will do the bare minimum requirements for their job. They will put in no more effort, time or enthusiasm than is absolutely necessary. Quiet quitters will reduce their participation in work activities, their effort basically diminishes until you are left with the bare minimum.
Quiet quitting is driven by the same factors that lead many into resigning. Quiet quitting sees individuals gradually begin to disengage from their job without formally resigning or bringing up their concerns.
Whilst quiet quitting isn’t healthy for the people or businesses involved some people might question why it’s so wrong. Aren’t they still doing exactly what is asked of them in their contracts? This being said, quiet quitting is often seen as passive-aggressive because it avoids direct communication and leaves employers unsure as to the reason behind the behavior.
What can employers do to prevent quiet quitting?
At the end of the day there is always a reason that someone decides (consciously or unconsciously) to quit. Quiet quitters weren’t always behaving this way, maybe they were even some of the company’s top workers at some point. Here are some of my takes on what you as an employer can do to prevent this and deal with quiet quitters.
First you should acknowledge that employees shouldn’t be expected to work insane hours to get their job done. That’s wrong on so many counts but sadly in many industries and societies it has become the norm. If someone is having to work more than their contractual hours, it means that you as the employee are not allocating tasks appropriately. One person cannot physically do the job of two people and nor should they be expected to. If a job requires more work than is achievable during working hours, then it’s time to rethink.
Secondly, working reasonable hours for the role that someone is allocated should never be seen as underperforming or not giving enough to the company. There was a reason that these working hours were agreed and signed upon in a contract. Whether it's subtle or not, making your employees feel like they must stay longer is not fair.
In my opinion it is well worth investing a little time and money in discovering what makes your employees happy. Creating a good company culture can make all the difference in preventing quiet quitting and greatly increasing productivity. Giving your employees some autonomy allows them to feel as if there is a sense of purpose again in the workplace.
And hey, remember you were probably in their position once too. Always view work from a humanistic viewpoint. We are all humans; we all have bills to pay and people to take care of. If toxicity (in the form of quiet quitting) enters the workplace, then nobody is going to benefit long term.
A note to employees or those going through quiet quitting…
To those of you who can see friends or colleagues quiet quitting or are perhaps seeing yourself do it, here is some advice.
As hard as it might be, as tough as your workday gets, it is always good to be the best version of yourself. Employees should still work hard and act in the best interests of their employer and company. Quiet quitting not only impacts the company, but it affects your colleagues and your own mental health. Ever heard of the term mood hoover? Someone who sucks the life out of a room as easily as a hoover sucks up dust! As much as you are able to sympathize with quiet quitters it can be quite dilapidating for the people around you.
You should also acknowledge that you are entitled to a good work/life balance. You are always entitled to finish work on time, go home and see your family. Acknowledging that, however, means that you have the social responsibility to do something about it if your working culture doesn’t enable it to happen. It might be that your employee hasn’t even really considered your feelings and just mentioning your concerns will change your situation.
Often people fear the idea of discussing issues with their bosses because of the obvious ramifications. But isn’t it better to try and discuss your issues rather than quiet quit? There might be simple things your employers can do to help the situation. As long as you discuss your work issues in a professional manner there shouldn’t be much fall out.
There’s been a buzz around quiet quitting in recent years, especially in the wake of the pandemic. However, that is not to say that this is anything new. Those people who do the bare minimum at work have always been there, just like those who go above and beyond for their job. Perhaps the transition to remote work as a result of the pandemic has caused this trend to escalate. We live in a world now where people have a voice and are often beginning to realize what they are really entitled to.
That being said, quiet quitting in my opinion is never a good idea. Whilst the immediate effects of resignation seem to be more impactful, actually quiet quitting can suck the energy from a company and leave it in a more damaging place. It's draining not only on yourself (the quiet quitter) but also the people around you. Look at it this way. You could choose to quiet quit or you could choose to do something about it. Speak out, voice your concerns, and make your situation better. It is also 100% the responsibility of the employer to make changes in the workplace. Wouldn’t it be better if no one ever had to feel like they need to quiet quit? Employers can only realistically expect their employees to give what they receive in terms of effort!
A couple of definitions
Quiet quitting refers to doing the minimum requirements of one's job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary. "Quiet quitting" refers to the process of gradually disengaging from a situation, relationship, or job without making a formal announcement or confrontation. It is often characterized by a gradual reduction in effort, participation, or engagement over time, until the person has effectively "quit" without actually saying so. Quiet quitting can be seen as a passive-aggressive behavior, as it avoids direct communication and can leave others unsure of what has happened. It is generally considered a less effective and professional way of handling a situation, as it can cause confusion and harm relationships, and it is better to have an open and honest conversation about one's intentions and reasons for leaving.
My take on quiet quitting:
- Employees shouldn’t just be expected to work insane hours to get their job done
- Working reasonable hours to the role someone is hired for shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing
- Employees should be able to obtain a work/life balance
- Employees should still work hard and act in the best interests of their employer
- Employees should also be able to finish work on time and see their families
- If a job requires more work than is achievable in work hours perhaps it is actually multiple jobs