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How can employers solve the quiet-quitting process?

The 2022 State of the Global Workplace report from Gallup shows only one out of four employees is engaged at work. It’s not surprising that quiet-quitting is the buzzword of the moment.  

Gallup defines quiet quitting as “employees not going above and beyond at work and just meeting their job description.” In other words, employees who quiet quit will do the bare minimum to complete their jobs. And this can be quite a problem for employers. Quietly quitting can harm an employer’s culture.

Where did the quiet quitting trend start?

Quiet quitting seems like a new term for an old phenomenon - disengaged employees - but with a modern twist. Earlier this year, a series of TikToks emerged on the social media platform promoting the benefits of quiet quitting. The videos reject a “live-to-work” attitude and promote a “work-to-live” ethos. The hashtag #QuietQuitting racked up over 17 million views by September 2022. And the concept reportedly influences younger workers who, post-pandemic, want a better work-life balance.

A new breed of employee

Nowadays, employees are more proactive with their wellness. Research by Aviva in September 2022 indicated that work-life balance is the most important factor for respondents when deciding where to work. Of course, there is nothing wrong with an employee setting boundaries that preserve their work-life balance. The concern is when employees become disengaged at work.

The problem with quiet quitting

Most jobs today, especially in the professional services sector, require some level of extra effort to collaborate with colleagues and meet customer needs. Moreover, it can affect the morale of team members too, as they deal with the shortfall.  Quiet quitting can disincentivise other employees to go above and beyond.

Your company culture

Every business needs a culture in which people are engaged and feel they belong.

Shifting priorities, unrealistic timelines, tight budgets, rotating managers, and high staff turnover in organisations can have a detrimental effect on the workforce. If employees are pushing back, it is worth looking internally at what is going on. Anonymous feedback surveys can reveal a lot about staff morale and bring issues to light for HR and senior leadership teams. Exit interviews are also another good source of intel.

Tough on the causes of quiet quitting

It is a myth that quiet quitters are your underperformers. They could be your top performers. You might notice their sudden drop in engagement during meetings or participation in work socials. Quiet quitting signals a mismatch regarding employer-employee expectations. Triggers for staff to consider quiet quitting include:                                                                                                                          

  • Excess workload
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Limited progression
  • Lack of opportunities for training and development
  • Poor compensation
  • Lack of boundaries
  • Insufficient support from managers
  • Unclear or mismatched expectations

Issues like this can erode employee-manager relationships, increase dissatisfaction, and disrupt productivity. Consider:

Employee workload

Overtime should be the exception instead of the norm. A leader’s job is to ensure that employees aren't constantly burning the midnight oil. That may indicate they’re being tasked with more than their hours allow. Or perhaps they need support to manage the project better.

Career development

Not everyone wants to climb the career ladder or take on more projects. It is easy to assume that every employee has the same career goals. Managers can discuss this early on with new starters and with existing staff about expanding their roles.

Salary and competitor benchmarking

Ensuring that your employees’ salaries are on par with market rates, cost of living, and current workloads are vital. Compensation should be regularly reviewed and if budgets are tight companies could consider non-monetary recognition, perks, and benefits.

Opening the conversation

Schedule regular conversations about your employees’ performance and career goals. This enables managers to address any issues as they arise. Behaviour changes need to be broached empathetically such as:  

  • “I noticed that you’ve been a little quiet/down at work lately.”
  • “I want to let you know that if there are parts of work you’re dissatisfied with, I’m happy to address them.”
  • “Whenever you’re ready to share any concerns, we’re here to find a solution together.”

Address manager engagement

Quiet quitting can be a symptom of poor management. Only one in three managers is engaged at work. Gallup's findings show that the best requirement and habit to develop for successful managers is having one weekly meaningful conversation with each team member.  Only managers are in a position to know employees as individuals -- their home situations, strengths and ambitions. Being a manager isn’t always easy, especially in the new world of remote working.  

  • Companies may need to reskill managers to win in the new hybrid environment.
  • Managers might need coaching or training to enable them to have meaningful conversations and spot the signs of burnout.

Take action

What can leaders do to restore engagement and keep employees fulfilled both in and out of the office? Some issues may be easily resolved through existing workplace policies. For example, if an employee is “quietly quitting” because they feel like they don’t spend enough time with their family you could consider a flexible working request.

If quiet quitting is proving an issue in your workplace and it is not possible to resolve it via informal means, employers might consider a formal disciplinary or performance process.

The need for fresh new talent

While firms don't want to necessarily lose employees, the cost of hiring, onboarding, and training employees can be significant. Bringing on fresh talent is crucial to a business's success. It can stir up the workplace positively by keeping current employees on their toes. Opening the door to new talent and ideas is vital for post-pandemic growth and filling skill gaps

If you’re looking to recruit new talent, contact Meraki Talent today.

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