10th Oct 2022
3 Min Read

Should I care about quiet quitting?

Connor Faulkner
Connor Faulkner
People & Change

The misnomer of ‘quiet quitting’ isn’t anything new.

Like many viral sensations, this global trend burrowed its way out of TikTok as scrollers revaluated how much time, effort and emotional investment they put into their careers. It’s a catalyst for those – who may have previously struggled with stress, anxiety and burnout thanks to their roles – to strive for a better work/life balance.

The idea is that quiet quitters don’t actually quit. Rather they keep their job by doing only what’s expected of them – and nothing more. When Kim Kardashian admonished workers – lashing out that no-one wants to work anymore – she succinctly ignored an underrepresented corner of society who’ve been working through war, disease and economic collapse.

She beckoned a fiery response. Her ill-informed assumption is the epitome of what quiet quitting is all about: combating a lack of respect, trust and fulfilment with a realisation that, actually, people have been going above and beyond in the roles. And for what?

Work, work, work

No matter your perspective on this subject, the idea of doing the job you’re being paid to do and no more shouldn’t be an epiphany to younger workers. And now we’re diving into the topic, who’s been doing this unpaid work that many have come to expect? As Lise Vesterlund tells The Boston Globe, it’s usually women and people of colour.

It’s why this global exercise in managing companies’ expectations of their colleagues is unearthing an issue that’s been festering for years. Now, as many reflect on their own priorities in life post-Covid, they’re expecting more from their workplace –  or at least a little bit of happiness in the 9-5. According to a recent  Gallup survey, 60% of people are emotionally detached at work, a red flag that can signify dissatisfaction.

But take even a cursory glance at the wider working social sphere, and it’s easy to see why some colleagues aren’t living their best post-pandemic lives. LinkedIn has been proclaiming that bosses think people do less at home, while Tesla demanded all colleagues to return to the office almost overnight. Remote working, well, works. And people are wasting their time trying to prove that.

This is the way the world – of work – ends

So what’s the solution? Certainly not quiet firing. For any IC pros experiencing a rude awakening as the concept of quiet quitting grows, the antidote is a simple exercise in engagement.

Are you covering the basics?

We know the importance of purpose. It’s one of the most important crucial tools you can use to motivate your people: it helps give colleagues a sense of confidence and connection in your organisation’s goals –  and highlights where your people fit into the bigger picture.

So is your purpose driving colleagues and giving them that sense of belonging? Start by asking your people – be it through surveys, focus group and interviews – and seeing whether your purpose is resonating with the majority of your people. If it isn’t, it’s time to re-articulate what your company is all about. In a nutshell, is your business focusing on enabling change makers, nurturing future tech leaders, or becoming an industry leader? Whatever direction you go for, take your colleagues along with you for a purpose-led journey.

Start by spotting the signs

Revamping your purpose statement isn’t always enough –  and even once you’ve done so, it’ll still take time for colleagues to get on board with it. In the short term, you’ll need to know who’s part of the 53% of workers who are burned out.

In this case, your line managers are your eyes and ears. Give them the skills they need to reassure and give colleagues a safe space where they can vent in confidence – without fear of action being taken – before informing leaders. Then, work with each affected colleague to see how you can reignite their passion for being a part of your business.

Is your environment supporting the new world of work?

Scrutinise the structure of your organisation: are there stress-inducing bottlenecks or colleagues sat twiddling their thumbs? Both kindle quiet quitting and in fact, boredom is the top reason many leave their jobs.

Once you’ve addressed resource gaps and have helped people take stress out of their day to day, what are the behaviours you often see demonstrated in your organisation? Some people might love being in the office, but others might misinterpret their extended presence as an expectation to work beyond their regular hours. If they arise, quell these concerns with a conversation to manage expectations.

Show, don’t tell

Just like your purpose, a company’s culture is a great way to attract and retain talent. The difference is that this is much more tangible: colleagues can see when your culture is being used as a bargaining chip, rather than acting as an accurate reflection of life within your organisation.

Lead by example: if you want to foster a culture of recognition, take the time to regularly show gratitude to colleagues. After all, people want a little more care and consideration from their work. If you want to foster a greater work-life balance, sure up your company’s policies on hybrid working to make sure no-one’s sending emails out of hours.

That’s barely scratching the surface. A positive culture  – one that’s reinforced by colleagues’ actions –  can supercharge people’s sense of belonging. Find out more about all things culture.

Remember: there will always be outliers

Some colleagues will see their job as just that – and, naturally, they might not be keen to engage with your purpose and culture. That’s fine; as long as both parties have clear expectations of what good looks like. Check in with those who go against the grain, see what you can do to help them achieve their own goals and you might just win them over.

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