The past few years have been packed to the brim with turmoil. From economic turmoil to relationship turmoil, the health and longevity of loved ones, and even the international supply chain. Everything was in flux. This was largely due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as it crawled its way across the globe seemingly overnight. The deadly pandemic forced stay-at-home orders to take effect in order to protect the lives of citizens across the world. Not only that, but travel began to shut down, and many businesses that relied on in-person patrons and customers also had to shut their doors. Some of which never got to reopen. Many other organizations still transitioned to remote operations and started making use of a mobile workforce.
During this major transition, however, many individuals lost their positions due to downsizing or total closures. At the same time, a major portion of the workforce decided to pursue early retirement or a solo venture like freelancing or startup entrepreneurship. This mass workforce exodus has since been coined the great resignation. All of this led to a major shift in the way that the workforce viewed and approached their work and career-life. One of the attitude-shifts toward work in the modern workforce has also been given a specific term. This one is known as quiet-quitting.
Quiet quitting has gotten a lot of attention as of late, and a lot of people still don’t exactly understand what it is, why it came about, or how to respond to the movement. The following will give organizational leaders and managers some insights into the quiet quitting movement, and should shed some light on how they can positively respond.
“In the early 2020s, driven largely by social media, quiet quitting emerged as a much-publicized trend in the United States and elsewhere. However, some observers have questioned how common it actually is—and whether it’s even a new phenomenon.”
– Greg Daugherty, Financial Writer and Editor, Investopedia –
1. What is Quiet Quitting?
Put very simply, quiet quitting refers to putting in the minimal amount of effort and time in order to perform your work during the week. The first thing to notice about the term quiet-quitting is that it’s actually a misnomer because no-one is actually quitting their jobs in this situation. The quiet-quitting terminology and 2020 version of the movement was largely inspired by a Tik Tok post and grew quickly with modern and younger members of the workforce.
It’s important to note that in quiet-quitting, the individual employee isn’t failing to meet their responsibilities or perform their work tasks, rather they just aren’t contributing to the hustle-culture that is so often depicted and expected from young members of the workforce.
“Yeah, quiet-quitting is a misnomer because no-one is actually quitting their job. Honestly, I personally don’t even think it’s that new of a phenomenon. People have been doing the bare-minimum at their job for centuries. It’s nothing new.”
–Caroline Duggan, Chief Brand Officer, Lumineux Oral Essentials –
While it might not be the best way to climb the corporate ladder, or to get that major promotion, quiet-quitting is nothing new, and is by no means detrimental to any organization. In fact, organizations that embrace the new emphasis that employees are putting on work-life-balance and company culture find they’re attracting diverse and top-tier talent across their entire organization.
“I think it’s important for leaders to recognize that quiet-quitting is a word that’s supposed to instill panic and fear that your employees aren’t working hard enough. Rephrase it in your mind as your employees reclaiming the ability to have a life outside of their work. That’s proven to be extremely beneficial to mental health and overall wellness.”
– Nabiha Akhtar, CEO and Founder, Lil Deenies –
2. A Look Into Employee Burnout
One of the main reasons that quiet-quitting took off so rapidly is because the hustle-culture that encouraged people to never-stop-working was becoming the norm in almost every field and industry there was. Work-life-balance was once again fading in and out of the conversation, and many employees were pushed to the limit or experienced burnout.
Burnout on an employee level is actually one of the main reasons that many people either switched careers or ventured off in pursuit of their own success in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the other events of 2020. By embracing the philosophies of quiet-quitting, employees can actively pursue hobbies, interests, and social lives outside of their work-life without feeling guilty about it or feel like they’re being judged because they weren’t productive 24/7 that week.
“We’ve all been there before, overworked, overtired, under-appreciated. It wears you down and eventually, if you don’t have a chance to rest, relax, and reset, you’re just going to boil or snap. There’s a reason work-life-balance came back into the spotlight as far as workplace conversations go. Everyone needs a chance to be a person and an employee, not just one or the other.”
– Karim Hachem, VP of eCommerce, La Blanca –
Employee burnout isn’t just bad for the individual, either. Employee burnout is typically an indicator of a larger organizational workflow flaw that puts too much stress and pressure on individual employees and members of the organization. If one employee experiences burnout, it isn’t necessarily unlikely that other employees are experiencing burnout as well.
“People are the most important asset of any organization. Modern leaders who recognize that treat their people well and prioritize developing a culture that emphasizes things like work-life balance and DEI.”
– Jayme Muller, Brand Manager, RTA Outdoor Living –
3. Improve the Compensation Package
Another great way for leaders to address quiet quitting and motivate their employees to go above and beyond expectations is to offer financial incentives for additional work. Rather than just expecting employees to put in additional time and energy; organizations need to give their employees more incentive than their base-salary for additional work that goes above and beyond their time or their responsibility level.
“Want someone to work harder and take on more responsibility? Pay em more. See if that doesn’t motivate them cause’ I sure bet you it will.”
– Ian Heyman, Founder, Dermasteel –
If you don’t like the idea of building additional financial incentives, but as a leader you’re still looking for your people to take on more responsibility, another good way to motivate them is through an increase in their salary or annual compensation. By showing people that you value their work and want to pay them fairly, you’re showing a level of loyalty, dedication, and acknowledgement that will earn their respect and be repaid in reciprocated loyalty.
“Of course there’s more to making someone happy and finding fulfillment in work than compensation alone, but not having to worry about your family’s finances is one hell of a burden to take off someone’s shoulders. I know how big of a difference fair compensation makes in someone’s life.”
– Justin Olson, Chief Marketing Officer, Fast Pace Health –
4. Be More Flexible
Another way that managers and organizational leaders can respond to quiet-quitting if they notice it, is to start being more flexible with their employees, and offer a little bit more autonomy in their role and position. By giving them more decision making-responsibility, you can effectively promote employee engagement and work-fulfillment. At the same time, this will give the employee the ability to focus on getting their work done in an efficient manner that works for them and their personal schedule.
“Flexibility is key, especially with modern workers. I can’t count how many interviews I’ve been a part of in the last few years, but I know the word flexibility has come up in each and every one. It’s becoming more and more important to employees every single day.”
– Bryan Jones, CEO, Truckbase –
Flexibility is also a lot easier to allow in the remote work culture that has developed over the past few years. With so many employees working from home or wherever there’s wifi, it’s much easier for managers to take a hands-off approach and allow their team members more autonomy. This often results in higher levels of employee engagement and productivity.
“Even a work relationship needs trust. It’s so important, especially in startup organizations, because the work has to get done. Doesn’t really matter how, or when you do it – it just needs doing.”
– Susan K. Shaffer, President, Pneuma Nitric Oxide –
5. Focus on and Invest in Culture
Finally, when it comes down to it, the modern worker prioritizes more than just their paycheck when considering who they’ll take employment from. More and more individuals are specifically looking to work for organizations whose values align with their own. On top of that, toxic and abusive workplace cultures are no longer tolerated by high-quality employees. Therefore, it’s vital for modern organizations to focus on and invest in a positive and productive workplace culture that emphasizes inclusion.
“The workplace culture is of utmost importance nowadays. High-quality employees simply won’t stick around if the culture is negative or highly toxic and super stressful. It’s too easy for them to take their talents elsewhere.”
– Rachel Roff, Founder and CEO, Urban Skin Rx –
By prioritizing a healthy and productive workplace culture, though, employees are more engaged, more loyal, more productive, more innovative, and even more willing to collaborate. The benefits of diversity in the workplace have long been proven, and with the remote work culture proven viable, there’s simply no reason not to source talent that is diverse and inclusive.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are really important to talk about in today’s economy, and even more important to emphasize in the workplace. There’s no room for discrimination or harrassment at any level in the future of the workplace culture.”
– Chandler Rogers, CEO, Relay –
A few Final Thoughts on ‘Quiet Quitting’
While quiet-quitting may sound like a scary phenomenon brought on by the newest “young generation”, the philosophies are actually quite dated. People have been doing the bare minimum at work for centuries and even longer. That said, modern quiet-quitting isn’t necessarily about skating-by on the bare-minimum as it is about finding and achieving a healthy work-life balance that improves overall productivity, employee engagement, and employee fulfillment. Honestly, quiet-quitting could turn out to be good for your organizational workplace culture overall.
“A healthy workplace is essential for every successful company, but it can be challenging for many organizations to achieve. Yet, despite the difficulty, companies continue to strive for a healthy workplace both physically and virtually.”
– Coann Labitoria, Author, HRD –