ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 15th, 2022 – The new term, quiet quitting, has been the topic of several conversations on social media and in traditional media outlets recently. On TikTok, #quietquitting received over 350 million views in August, and in the months following, even the New York Times and BBC World News featured a number of articles and news items on this trend. What exactly does it mean? In the simplest of terms, it’s the choice to do only assigned work or the bare minimum, and nothing more. While the term is new, the concept certainly is not.
Deepak “Dee” Agarwal, long-time C-Suite executive and successful entrepreneur, shares why quiet quitting is on the rise and breaks down how to effectively address it as an employer.
Why Are Employees Quiet Quitting?
Quiet quitting has always been prevalent in our workforce. Many employees have quietly quit their jobs over the years for similar reasons, which include burnout or stress at work, unmanageable workload, lack of professional growth, and low compensation.
The only difference between today’s and yesterday’s versions of quiet quitting is the effect of a worldwide pandemic on the workforce.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought quiet quitting to the forefront. During this time, many people reflected on their current jobs and how to strike a better work-life balance, which remains elusive to most workers,” Dee Agarwal said.
To many employees who remain in their role, quiet quitting simply means setting boundaries between their work and their personal life, while others use it to capture the attention of their managers and affect meaningful changes in the workplace. Of course and unfortunately in many environments there may be slackers, but not all quiet quitters are inherently reluctant to work. For example, if a dedicated and engaged employee begins quiet quitting, this could signal their managers that they don’t feel recognized or appreciated for the work they’re putting in.
Quiet quitting as a form of work-life balance, is inherently not a problem that needs to be solved as long as the employee’s performance is still satisfying or exceeding expectations. Although, if it is used to send an indirect message to management on underlying issues within the organization, that’s when it becomes toxic to the work environment. “What leaders need to address is how to identify the signs of quiet quitting and if it is coming from an underlying complaint from the employee,” says Deepak Agarwal.
How to Recognize and Address Quiet Quitting
Some of the most common signs that an employee may be a quiet-quitter looking to get the attention of their leaders include clocking in late and clocking out early, not attending meetings, sudden changes in work habits like reduced or slower productivity, and an overall lack of passion for the job and/or the company.
The key to combatting the causes of quiet quitting is engagement. Employees and employers alike did not experience enough engagement and authentic connection with their colleagues when remote work became the new normal. Thus, companies lost an important tool to gauge employee sentiment.
“The first thing leaders should do is find out why employees are quiet quitting and if it’s more than establishing a work-life balance. The goal is to find what makes your employees happy and productive at work, and then to bring that back to them,” Deepak Agarwal added.
The best way to keep employees engaged and therefore invested in their roles is to talk to them directly and get their feedback on how to improve their day-to-day experience in the company. Most companies already have an employee engagement survey in place to help gauge the overall attitude and feedback that employees bring to their roles. However, research shows that only 22% of companies are getting good results from these engagement surveys, and more importantly, 58% of companies are not taking meaningful action on the data their surveys provide.
“A well-thought-out feedback system is a great way to establish a culture of openness and honesty in a company and paves the way for genuine discussion on how to move things forward. However, if your company is treating the survey or employee feedback like a box that needs to be checked on HR’s list, without any action, that’s a problem,” Deepak Agarwal said.
Thoughtful action on employee feedback to elevate the organization’s professional culture and growth structure can be effective, but prevention of quiet quitting is better than the cure. What does that mean for leaders? They need to be proactive in ensuring that employees feel respected, appreciated, and have the potential to grow. Additionally, by regularly listening to employee concerns in an inclusive and safe environment, employers can get ahead of potential issues and hold on to employees who are engaged and productive, and less likely to “quietly quit.”
“There is a reason that the term ‘Quiet Quitting’ has made such an impact on our modern-day workforce. Whatever the reason, whether it’s to prioritize work-life balance or send a message to leadership, open and honest communication on all issues needs to be addressed for continued employee engagement,” Dee Agarwal affirms.