Quiet quitting as it has been dubbed is a relatively new phenomenon. Arising out of the global pandemic, it has been gaining traction as of late on social media. The term refers to the trend of some employees not quite quitting, but also not trying to progress in their role and only accomplishing the basic demands and requirements of the job. It is the opposition to the rise and grind culture of going above and beyond in everything that you do.
The term has since come to mean ‘not working above your pay grade’ with employees putting in the minimum effort often with the intention of looking for other employment opportunities. The breakout of the pandemic saw people everywhere lose their jobs, but disproportionately the younger generations due to the ‘last in, first out’ phenomenon. This job uncertainty mixed with lengths of time at home gave people time to reflect and assess their current position. As a result, it gave those affected time to reflect on whether their workplace aligned with their values and felt it was rewarding. Mental health became a priority and the focus turned to work-life balance, shifting away from a drive to over-exert themselves.
The message of setting healthy boundaries with work – not overworking yourself and taking the time to switch off from work is incredibly important. However, the question does arise of what kind of culture and environment are you upholding in the workplace to push employees towards this. There are arguments against the quiet quitting movement, with some declaring that you’ll never succeed with that mindset. While completely disengaging from work won’t provide any success, preventing yourself from being overworked and stressed is never a negative. Though there will be some taking the movement to extremes, the general sentiment toward maintaining a healthy work-life balance is positive. It should be used in a way to better the individual and utilised to make you more productive. If your employees are ‘quiet quitting’ it should be a cause for self-reflection not for shaming your employees.
This drop in employee engagement results in a disengaged and unmotivated workforce and goes hand-in-hand with employee dissatisfaction. Gallup’s workplace report (2022) highlighted only 9% of UK workers felt engaged or enthusiastic about their work. The pandemic made people feel replaceable, causing a massive turn towards self-reflection, and a focus on whether their career or position within a company aligned with their values. We’ve seen this shift in employee satisfaction through the current Great Resignation, where record numbers of employees are handing in their notice. The quiet quitting movement isn’t new; the pandemic was the peak of the issue, but the growing dissatisfaction has been underlying for a while. The pandemic just allowed time for employees to self-reflect on the current circumstances, re-evaluate their goals and realign their workplace with their values.
Moving on from the quiet quitting movement, companies should reflect on their own work culture and support systems. Especially in a post-pandemic world, it is crucial to prioritise your employees’ well-being by creating support systems, mental health awareness and benefits to support work-life balance. If your employees are subscribing to the mentality of quiet quitting, they are likely feeling overworked and unappreciated. This is often a fundamental issue within the company, not the employee. Regardless of personal opinions on quiet quitting, it poses a risk to companies resulting in a decline in productivity and revenue, this isn’t to say employees are in the wrong. One of the most important things for employers to do is frequently re-assess their company culture and employee experience. As an employer you need to facilitate separation between work and home life. Overworking shouldn’t be encouraged or expected, and stress should be minimised. With the current shortages and a candidate-led job market, it is more important than ever to ensure retention and boost employee satisfaction. Not only for the benefit of the company but fundamentally for the well-being of the employees.