“Quiet quitting” - it’s a term that’s everywhere these days, but what exactly does it mean?
How does it differ from the great resignation? What can employers do to ensure that they retain their valued employees while encouraging a productive, healthy, and happy workforce? Here’s everything you need to know about the latest trend.
Quiet quitting 101
What is “quiet quitting?”
Quiet quitting speaks to the idea that employees refuse to go above and beyond the duties in their job descriptions. They no longer perform tasks, answer work calls, respond to instant messages, or reply to work texts after hours. They watch the clock and leave the moment their shift finishes. Simply put, “you are still performing your duties, but you are no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be our life. The reality is, it’s not, and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.”
Is quiet quitting the same as the great resignation?
No, but they’re related. The so-called great resignation refers to employees voluntarily leaving their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Lockdowns and telecommuting caused many to reevaluate their work/life balance, and decide that working their current job just wasn’t worth it anymore. They quit and took a variety of routes, with some people finding new jobs, some taking on less traditional work, and others simply not returning to the workforce at all. This trend has been so great that we’re still seeing widespread employment vacancies across many sectors.
Quiet quitting, on the other hand, is more like performing the bare minimum on the job, also known as “working your wage” or “working to rule.” A similar movement called “lying flat” emerged in China in April 2021, where being overworked has become a common complaint.
How widespread is quiet quitting?
Greater than you might think. A September 2022 State of the Global Workplace poll by Gallup found that nearly half of all U.S. employees are quiet quitting. Only 21% are engaged in productive work. A mere 33% say that they are thriving at work, and most do not find their job meaningful or have a positive attitude about the future.
And the economic impact quiet quitting is having is huge. A recent report from Gallup estimates that the global economy lost a staggering $7.8 trillion last year due to lowered employee productivity.
Why do employees choose quiet quitting?
It all has to do with the perception of fairness. Employees often feel underpaid and otherwise taken advantage of, especially if they work long hours, overtime, or have to complete work on their days off without compensation. The pandemic reshaped the idea of what was important, which many have redefined to include more family, friends, and community. They came to place increased value on their personal time and became less willing to make sacrifices for their employer.
Similarly, if employees believe that employers are taking advantage of them, they wonder why they should be expected to deliver more than 100% in return. It’s a re-examination of basic assumptions about the value of time and effort.
What can employers do to discourage quiet quitting?
First, employers can start by recognizing that there may be two very different factors – individual motivation and overall corporate morale. Specific employees may have their own reasons for reduced performance, such as caregiver duties, the necessity of a second job, transportation issues, and financial or health problems. All of these need to be addressed on an individual basis.
If the problem is company-wide, however, it may be time for introspection on the part of leadership. Is your company culture heavily focused on the idea of “hustling” and has unattainable expectations? Are employees being treated fairly? Are they paid to the industry standard? Are they receiving rewards and bonuses when executives do? These questions are important to evaluate, as, if employees don’t feel like they’re getting a fair shake, they may take a moment to pause and stop instead of going the extra mile.
On the other hand, perhaps your company is already a leader in your industry, doing everything possible to ensure employees have a realistic work/life balance. If this is the case, consider internal awareness campaigns that highlight benefit offerings, emphasizing management’s concern with employee wellness and well-being.
Why is wellness such a big deal?
Everyone knows that happier employees perform better. So do healthier employees as well as those who aren’t plagued by financial insecurity. When a company offers excellent wellness packages that improve happiness, health, and/or finances, they are putting its money where its mouth is and demonstrating that it cares about its people.
Take smoking cessation programs as an example
The American Lung Association estimates that a person who smokes can save between $1,380 and $2,450 a year by quitting a pack-a-day habit. That’s a big chunk of change. Most people who smoke worry about their health and longevity, too. When employers help employees reduce and quit smoking, they prove that they understand these concerns and are doing something to help.
How can employers ensure that they’re doing their share?
Evaluate the salary and benefits your employees are offered
Compare them with industry benchmarks. Perhaps ask company leaders to consider whether they themselves would perform the work done by employees for the current compensation.
See whether employees have the benefits needed to manage and cope with stress
Consider also digging deeper and determining whether employees are actually using the benefits already available to them. If not, they may not understand what’s available to them, or you may have the wrong vendors in place, with offerings that employees don’t find valuable.
Measure vendor efficacy
One area we recommend you start with? Your tobacco cessation program. Why is that? Well, stress and smoking are closely related, and helping tobacco-using employees reduce and quit can naturally reduce overarching stress. And best yet, an effective tobacco cessation program can reduce stress, absenteeism, and burnout, which can lead to a reduction in quiet quitting at your company.
Is quiet quitting just a fad that will go away?
Probably not, and employers would be ill-advised to view it as such. Instead, consider quiet quitting as an opportunity to rethink your relationship with your workforce. Everyone, from the CEO to the janitor, needs to feel important and respected, as well as fairly compensated.
That translates into tangibles like money, as well as intangibles like flextime, childcare, healthcare, fitness, and overall wellness. The bottom line is that employees are realizing that they have choices – and power. If they’re asked to deliver more than 100%, it’s important that they understand that an employer is now being asked to do the same.