How Companies, Managers, Teams, and Employees can all Stop the Trend
Written by HRCap
October 13, 2022
A new TikTok video trend on quiet quitting has taken the country by storm.
Gallup defines Quiet Quitters as employees “not engaged at work – people who do the minimum required and are psychologically detached from their job”. This may mean not going above and beyond what is required of them and being “less willing to engage in activities known as citizenship behaviors: no more staying late, showing up early, or attending non-mandatory meetings.” (HBR) Employees are quiet quitting because they are trying to reduce or prevent burnout.
According to the 2022 Gallup survey, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce. The survey further goes to show a decline in engagement and employer satisfaction among remote Gen Z and younger millennials below the age of 35.
The phenomenon of quiet quitting may be the aftermath of COVID-19 and the Great Resignation. During the pandemic, employees have created a new list of priorities and feel empowered to take control of their work-life balance. On top of that, the Great Resignation has created a job market that is in favor of the employee because there are 2 jobs available for every 1 unemployed (BLS).
Quiet quitting does not mean the employees actually quit and does not look all the same. Some quiet quit to set healthy boundaries and pursue their passion project outside of work. While for many, the lack of engagement and motivation has led to reduced productivity. This not only affects them and their teams as a whole but also reduces the company’s productivity and value.
What Companies Must Do
Although quiet quitting is multi-faceted, companies can take a proactive approach to effectively address and reduce the amount and impact of quiet quitting by implementing the following strategies.
1. Make Well-Being a Priority
According to a 2022 Gallup survey, less than 25% of U.S. employees feel that their organization cares about their well-being. Therefore, companies need to act to prioritize employees’ well-being and promote a healthy work-life balance. This can mean not overworking the team or constantly extending job obligations without proper compensation. Organizations can prioritize employees’ well-being by giving additional time off to recharge or providing free mental health resources.
2. Aligning Work Values with Employees
It is important that employees believe their work aligns with their values and have a meaningful impact to the organization and the greater community. As such, projects they take on can be more life-giving than stressful. According to the Carson College of Business 2021 Gen Z Spotlight Report, 70% of Gen Z workers want to work for companies whose values align with their own.
3. Endorse Employee Recognition
Recognition can help employees be more engaged, helping them feel appreciated, build confidence, and hold a sense of belonging in the workplace. The Deloitte 2020 survey shows that employee engagement, productivity, and performance are 14% higher in organizations with an employee recognition program than those without it.
[Related: Why Do We Need Empathy in the Workplace?]
Organizations should not only reward high performance, but also recognize the commitment to learning and development, collaboration and teamwork, and work ethics and longevity.
4. Create Opportunities for Greater Growth
Companies can improve the employee experience by creating more growth opportunities for employees. In a 2021 Gallup survey, 71% of workers said that job training and development increased their job satisfaction.
5. Provide Flexibility
Many employees want the option of remote work because of the flexibility. When that option is taken away, they are more likely to be disengaged and consider leaving. An ADP Research Institute report shows that 64% of workers would consider quitting if asked to return to the office full-time.
6. Conduct 360-degree Reviews
Companies need to proactively evaluate their leaders to assess their performance and greater potential. By conducting a 360-degree review, companies can identify how employees may perceive their managers and how that ultimately affects their work and the team culture. More than 85% of all Fortune 500 companies effectively use the 360-degree feedback process.
What Managers Must Do
Quiet quitting is often a response to workplace problems such as toxic culture, unrealistic expectations, and micromanagement. Therefore, managers must take the next few steps to improve their leadership to strengthen the team’s capacity and the work culture to reduce quiet quitting.
1. Listen, Reflect, and Act on Feedback
Managers must approach performance reviews as a meaningful opportunity to reflect on the feedback from direct reports, peers, and managers. Getting 360-degree feedback can help the manager to improve and understand what they don’t know about the dynamic of the team.
2. Build Positive Rapport
Employees who have a positive relationship with their managers are often much happier in the workplace. Happiness is extremely important for employees’ well-being, while also increasing their productivity by 13% according to the 2019 study by Oxford University's Saïd Business School.
3. Work on Effective Communication
Many employees struggle with burnout because of a bad manager. According to the 2020 SHRM survey, 84% of American workers say their managers create a lot of unnecessary work and stress. In that same survey, the number one skill employees pointed out managers could improve was communicating effectively. Effective communication is very important because managers need to have a meaningful conversation to unravel why quiet quitters are disengaged and burned out.
4. Conduct Regular One-On-Ones
Managers need to be consistent with giving feedback and aligning with their direct reports. The 2020 15Five Workplace Report states that 82% of employees felt they received the support needed from their managers during the pandemic because of the frequent one-on-one meetings. Even managers found the one-on-ones to be very helpful. By having open dialogues and frequent meetings, managers can empathize with employees and make sure they feel heard and valued.
What Teams Must Do
Although most articles focus on the need for companies and managers to reduce quiet quitting, teams also play an important role in whether a colleague quiet quits or not.
1. Strengthen Collaboration
Each team member must encourage collaboration with one another. A 2022 Zippia survey shows that 50% of U.S. workers say their jobs are reliant on collaboration, while 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as very important. Collaborative culture leads to increased productivity, and is heavily linked to reducing employee turnover rates by 50%. In a separate 2022 study published by Human Resources for Health, the increase in teamwork quality led to reduced burnout caused by emotional exhaustion and increased individual achievement.
2. Support Team Building
Teams can take accountability by building and shaping the team with employee referrals. By using employee referrals to help bring on highly vetted referrals, teams can help diversify the team's capacity and improve the team culture. According to a 2019 Jobvite Study, 46% of employees hired through referrals stayed for 1 year or longer showing that referrals help improve retention.
3. Foster Camaraderie
By creating friendships, teams can proactively step in and check in with each other to improve team engagement and improve the workplace culture. According to a 2022 Gallup survey, only 20% of employees report having a best friend at work. Of those who said they have a best friend at work, 32% strongly agree that it increased workplace satisfaction amid the pandemic.
What Quiet Quitters Must Do
Lastly, the greatest responsibility sits with the employees. Regardless of how much the manager, company, and teams do to help combat quiet quitting, at the end of the day, employees are in greater charge of their careers and must find ways to make their work engaging and meaningful.
1. Identify the Source of Burnout
Quiet quitters must assess the various sources of their burnout. HBR Ascend shares that there are three types of burnout: overload burnout, under-challenged burnout, and neglect burnout. Overload burnout is when the employee works harder at an unsustainable rate to achieve success at the cost of their health and personal life. Under-challenged burnout is when workers are possibly undervalued and underappreciated, leading them to feel frustrated at the lack of opportunities. Last, neglect burnout occurs when employees are not given enough structure or direction in the workplace. As a result, they feel helpless, incompetent, and frustrated when they face challenges.
2. Communicate With Others
After identifying the source of burnout, employees must communicate their struggles with either a trusted manager or colleague. The act of verbalizing feelings into words is called “affect labeling,” which ultimately helps to manage negative emotional experiences. By communicating, employees can also share what they may need to feel supported and plan how to manage their burnout.
3. Set Achievable Goals
Creating actionable and achievable goals helps employees align on expectations early on and know what they are working towards. These targets must be set and prioritized. Managers can help employees see how their goals contribute to the company. In fact, a PubMed Central 2021 study found that “goal-setting participation positively affects employees’ proactive behavior”.
4. Establish Healthy Boundaries
Employees should create sustainable boundaries between work and their personal life. Many fail to do that and still work on the weekends due to the overflowing amount of work or even lack of productivity during the work week. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey, about 47.5% of employees worked on weekends and holidays in 2016. Employees need to work on prioritizing productivity so that they can truly dedicate their non-work hours to fully recharge.
5. Enjoy Life Outside of Work
Additionally, employees should reflect often to calibrate and find greater life purpose outside of work. They can relieve stress by staying physically active, and enrich their lives by finding meaningful hobbies. Research shows that employees that engage in hobbies are more satisfied at their jobs and less likely to burn out. After all, a lack of meaning in life may mean a lack of meaning in work.
At the end of the day, quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon but has in fact existed for quite some time. Allyn Bailey, Executive Director of Hiring Success at SmartRecruiters, comments on quiet quitting as “a performance issue - a behavior issue,” and that it has always existed. She shares we must all understand what’s really happening here, and carefully assess our employee population to redefine the psychological contract between companies and employees.
Therefore, we must continually act to understand and address quiet quitting. All parties involved (companies, managers, teams, and employees) must build greater empathy, align on realistic expectations, and consistently hold each other accountable to strive towards this common goal.
Source: HRCap, Gallup, Carson College of Business, ADP Research Institute, Forbes, Oxford University Saïd Business School, SHRM, TechRepublic, Zippia, Human Resources for Health, Jobvite, HBR Ascend, National Library of Medicine, BLS, ProQuest
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