If you’re a business leader, “quiet quitting” is one trend you’ll want to pay attention to.
At its core, it’s a concept in which employees are pushing back against the expectation to go above and beyond their job description.
Some see it as a work ethic problem. But that’s a shallow view of a deeper and more troubling problem.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Quiet Quitting?
The concept of quiet quitting, as a pop culture topic, originated with Gen Z creators (born after 1997), many who have entered the workforce in the last few years.
Despite its origins, quiet quitting is resonating with workers of all ages—especially those suffering from burnout and exhaustion in the wake of the pandemic.
On a fundamental level, quiet quitting is the idea that, instead of actually quitting, employees can reclaim their time and work-life balance by paring down their job to the bare minimum by doing things like:
- Avoiding tasks outside of your job description.
- Not being available after-hours work.
- Refusing to check emails on vacation.
- Only logging in for required work hours.
- Doing only what’s essential and nothing more.
Some believe this trend shows a lack of initiative or work ethic, perhaps even laziness. This is especially true for those who see “going above and beyond” as the only way to get ahead in your career or make a meaningful contribution to your organization.
And while the general consensus is that quiet quitting is a reflection of laziness or poor work ethic, the truth is that employees shouldn’t be expected to do more than they’re compensated for.
But the real problem with quiet quitting is much more profound than that. And the root of this problem is what should truly be troubling employers.
The Real Problem with Quiet Quitting: Employee Disengagement
The underlying problem with quiet quitting is that it speaks to a bigger phenomenon in the workplace: employees are disengaged and unhappy at work.
This means that not only are they unwilling to go above and beyond, they’re actually actively unhappy in their roles.
And a recent study shows how widespread this disengagement is—the number of employees engaged in their work dropped from 36% to 32% from 2020 to 2022.
Leaders and employers need to pay attention to this because having disengaged and unhappy employees in a workplace can lead to:
- Lower productivity: This results in a negative overall impact on an organization.
- Decreased engagement: Less engaged employees have worse performance and outcomes.
- Higher turnover: Employees will start seeking out new jobs that are a better fit.
- Poor workplace morale: Employees and teams may struggle to connect with each other or there can be active disagreement or tension.
- Higher operating costs: Turnover, decreased productivity, and low performance all cost the company more over time.
These are big problems at the best of times, but given the many choices employees now have in our remote-work world, it’s more serious than ever.
Employees have choices and they’re likely to quickly seek greener pastures if something isn’t done to engage them.
How to Address The Root Issue Of Quiet Quitting
To prevent or fix quiet quitting in the workplace, employers should be less concerned with people not going above and beyond and more concerned with keeping them engaged.
And it starts with understanding what employees want.
In the past, a good salary and benefits plan was often the main distinguisher between workplaces. But thanks to extensive remote opportunities, coupled with labor shortages in many industries, employees today have options.
They’re looking for more than just a good salary—that’s just a baseline expectation. Additionally, employees are concerned with everything else that makes up Employee Value Proposition (EVP).
EVP is, essentially, what an employer has to offer an employee in exchange for their labor. It’s made up of factors such as:
- Company values: Corporate social responsibility (CSR), communication, transparency, and ethical operations
- Career development: Opportunities such as conferences, mentorship, training, upskilling courses, or tuition reimbursement
- Workplace culture: Socialization, fun events, and strong interpersonal relationships
- Compensation and benefits: Stock options, vacation allotment, or health benefits
- Flexible work arrangements: Hybrid schedules and flexible policies
In light of their many options, employees are asking, why should I work for you? Focusing on boosting EVP is one way employers can answer that and, ultimately, fix the problem of quiet quitting in the workplace.
Tips for Employers
To eliminate quiet quitting, leaders and employers need to focus heavily on employee engagement and boosting EVP. Here are some practical places to start.
Reframe Your Mindset
A mindset shift is the first step to any significant change. In this context, it’s moving away from the idea that quiet quitting equates to laziness and understanding that it’s a symptom of a bigger problem—one that employers can start solving!
Another shift is to understand that employees shouldn’t be expected to do more than their job description. The expectation to go “above and beyond” is unrealistic. Instead, focus on helping employees engage in and do their best work within the parameters of their position.
Listen To Your Employees
If you aren’t sure what employees want from work—ask them. To address the root cause of disengagement and frustration, you need to know what they’re looking for and expecting in a workplace.
There are a few ways to do this:
- Have one-on-one meetings with your team to talk about their personal goals and challenges
- Ask for anonymous feedback in a survey
- Complete market research to understand what other companies in your industry offer
Topics of discussion could be anything related to the employee experience or EVP as listed above—compensation, professional development opportunities, sense of belonging, or company values. You might want to explore some of the most desired employee benefits in a post-pandemic world, as well.
Use the Workplace as a Tool for Engagement
The workplace itself is an important piece for employee engagement, particularly as many employees are on remote and hybrid schedules. An active, engaged, buzzing workspace can boost employee engagement in a few ways:
- Sense of belonging: Being together builds shared experiences in a safe and inclusive work environment
- Connection: Opportunities for casual connections and water-cooler talk
- Socialization: A positive team setting fosters fun throughout the day
- Professional development: Networking and training opportunities
Companies that work in an office space need to ask: is our physical workspace contributing to employee engagement? If not, what changes should we make?
Companies with remote teams need to think about it a bit differently. Because employees don’t come into a physical workspace, the question is: how can we leverage in-person opportunities for connection? This might look like:
- Offering coworking memberships to employees
- Booking an on-demand meeting room for quarterly team check-ins
- Hosting social events outside of work hours
Model Work-life Balance
The main purpose of quiet quitting is to reclaim work-life balance. Employees don’t want to work over and above their scheduled hours, nor do they want to be “online” at all times.
Work-life balance is essential to mental health and well-being. It’s important that leaders model it in the workplace by taking their vacations, setting boundaries around communication, and actively encouraging employees to use any time off benefit they have.
The trending hashtag might disappear, but quiet quitting—and the root causes that drive it—will exist until leaders and employers take the steps necessary to engage their teams.
If you don’t focus on what makes employees happy, you’ll lose out on top talent and contribute to a widespread problem of disengaged and frustrated employees.
If you’re looking for a flexible workspace that inspires and engages your employees, book a tour of your local Launch Workplace today.