IS QUIET QUITTING REAL?
Well, YES and NO…
So, it doesn’t really involve quitting your job, but you quit going above and beyond the call of duty – so technically you draw a line.
As with other trends, there are different approaches to this one also. For decades, workplace performance was associated with putting in long hours or taking on additional work – primarily with the intent to look good or to gain attention. This resulted in causing stress and burnout. And now, people want to focus on their health and specially their mental health and have put their hands up to not doing more than what is required. Again, there is nothing wrong here as technically workers are doing only what they are getting paid for. This also has a different meaning for some people in the sense that they have realised they need to set boundaries for work.
While this silent movement started as a concept to achieve work-life balance, it has in some cases ended up overshooting the mark.
Let’s understand the term firstly.
Quiet Quitting started as a way to combat the long-held belief that the only way to get ahead professionally is to work longer and beyond your limits and to be a ‘yes’ man/woman to safeguard your career. It resulted from employees realising that there is more to life than work, and the pandemic highlighted that possibility starkly.
More people had time to think about and question their careers and seeking more work-life balance, according to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2022 report. People even took to social media to promote their discontent. A TikTok clip described that work does not have to be life, and people should start to reconsider their work-life needs.
The pandemic propelled the ‘Great Resignation’ for people who threw in the towel and simply moved on, but for those who did not want to leave work, ‘Quiet Quitting’ became a means to derive work-life balance favourable while putting in their best only to what was required.
So, why is it not looked upon favourably?
Contrary to belief, it is not supposed to imply that people are switched off at work. Quiet quitting merely removes the emotional investment you make at work. This means not worrying about the impact of your work. An extreme case could be to not even taking pride in your achievements at work.
It tends to get associated with lack of motivation, underdevelopment of skills, lack of flexibility and inability to work in a team setting. And, since the employee has reduced the workplace engagement to the bare minimum – just about enough to not get fired – it sends a strong signal about lack of commitment. Honestly, if the employee feels that disengaged and disillusioned by his/her role, then they have already passed the point of burnout and should just move on.
What is the sweet spot for this?
Quiet quitting means that the employee is continuing to work, but has limited their tasks to those strictly within their job description to avoid working longer hours. It implies the desire to do the bare minimum to get the job done and set clear boundaries to improve work-life balance, but in no way it is suggestive that the quality of work be compromised. These employees fulfil their job duties but have dropped the idea of extending work hours in order to stand out to their superiors. And, it is possible to maintain healthy boundaries and still be remain somewhat emotionally invested at work.
The other extreme point of view that one has – that one has to be totally disengaged to have work-life balance is a misinterpretation. Some employers or co-workers could see it as slacking off or feel that quiet quitters are not carrying their weight. It could lead to work conflicts.
Therefore, it is imperative that it be planned right with the correct intent so that it is associated as a progressive trend. Quiet quitting can be a positive trend provided workers focused on maximizing their hours at work.
One thing to be noted, especially in an HR Context, is that quit quitting could be a sign that an employee is unhappy in their position or is experiencing burnout. Quiet quitting is also one of the ways that an employee deals with burnout to help alleviate stress. It could also be inferred that the employee is ready to change positions or even that he/she may be looking for another job.
What are the signs of a Quiet Quitter?
🔐Not attending meetings
🔐Arriving late or leaving early
🔐Reduction in productivity
🔐Less contribution to team projects
🔐Not participating in planning or meetings
🔐Lack of passion or enthusiasm
How can employers & organizations counter this?
Working from home, and hybrid working has also changed the workplace dynamics as workers are communicating in different ways through virtual modes and on platforms such as Zoom or Teams or Slack etc. Most of these interactions need to be scheduled and cannot replace the chat session in an office that could take place impromptu by the coffee machine, or by just walking into someone’s office. This can cause a disconnect between employees and management.
Wage growth may also be a large factor in why people don’t want to put everything into their careers. In July 2022, the rate of inflation globally hit 8-9%, and the average raise was 3.4%. People are actually earning less money — making them wonder why they should work so hard.
Some of the ways to counter ‘Quiet Quits’ and drive engagement are:
✅Look to improve the employee experience – Talk to them, gather feedback and device ways on how you can make them feel appreciated. It may be as simple as words of encouragement regularly.
✅Ensure realistic workloads – this means appropriate boundaries to maintain a work-life balance. Regular follow through with employees help to make sure these boundaries are clear and conducive to an open and honest relationship.
✅Put mental health as a top priority. Organizations need to encourage employees to look after their well-being through digital wellness awareness and regular check-ins. They also need to foster a positive work culture that helps combat stress.
✅Prioritize career development for your employees. Discuss career paths and find ways to help employees reach their career ambitions with planned and actionable tasks resulting from performance.
✅Make employees feel valued and learn how to manage realistic expectations.
So, what’s the conclusion?
As far as my thoughts are concerned, ‘Quiet Quitting’ is a necessary evil. There is nothing wrong with putting in only the hours that are required provided the job is done. It’s really a good thing if you leave on time, you don’t check your emails outside working hours, and you maintain a work/life balance that suits you – I sincerely encourage everyone to aim for this.
The flip side is that employees use ‘work-life balance’ as a means to not complete work. Quiet Quitting then gets misused to distancing yourself from your role and feeling resentful which is not helpful for anyone – it doesn’t serve the organisation you’re working for, and it doesn’t benefit you in the long run. It does not enable you to develop, nor does it move you forward or let you acquire skills as you are not in that frame of mind to progress. So, if this term means you’ve already got one foot out of the door, then it’s best for everyone if you take that other step over the threshold too – and look for a role where you will feel more fulfilled.
The best way to look at it?
Quiet quitting is best eyed through the lens of an innovative mind-set that emphasises work life balance positively. As focus on employee well-being continues to gain momentum in modern workplaces, for the first time we are seeing a trend where well-being is taking precedence over productivity. Therefore, establishing clear boundaries and quietly quitting work are seen as the trends that replace overworking and toxic productivity.
It would not be wrong to conclude that ‘Quiet Quitters’ are calling for a perspective shift in how we look at ourselves and define our self-worth in relation to our jobs. This is more with Gen Z who have entered the workforce recently, and especially during the Pandemic and are refusing to define their life based on solely their career. These young professionals are placing more value on what they do outside of work hours and do not want their identity to stem from their jobs. They want to live more, not work more.
The cascading effect then is that it can bolster overall productivity. When employees approache work with less stress or anxiety, it could well give them the energy to better able to fulfil their tasks, and they are also more satisfied with the other areas of their lives.
When workers receive adequate support to develop beyond their regular tasks and outside of work, they too become committed to going above and beyond. Workplace enhancement, engagement strategy and support through Coaching and Mentorship are some of the ways organizations can accomplish enhancing their commitment to employee well-being and consequently stem the tide of Quiet Quitters.
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