The term ‘quiet quitting’ has been all over the Internet the last few weeks. TikToks have been created, articles have been written, and debates have been had. As an organization that prides itself on helping to build people-first cultures and world class employer brands, this is a topic that we wanted to address.
From our point of view, there are several factors that the talent industry needs to consider with the rise of the ‘quiet quitting’ trend. We need to look at how this phenomenon impacts early career joiners, how it can impact trust levels and fear of amongst colleagues, why employees find themselves quiet quitting the first place, and what can be done by employers to address the issue head on.
What is quiet quitting?
According to the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA), quiet quitting centres around the rejection of hustle culture. Instead of going above and beyond, employees are simply just doing their jobs as originally described.
Some actions that could be viewed as quiet quitting are:
- Saying ‘no’ to tasks that do not fall within your job description.
- Leaving work or logging off right at the end of the business day.
- Not going above and beyond or overachieving in hopes of earning a promotion.
- Having less of an emotional investment in what goes on at work.
Some leaders liken this behaviour to unionized employees taking stands called “work-to-rule,” which are slightly less disruptive than a strike, but certainly impact company productivity and performance.
Why employees are quiet quitting
Organizations that have consistently been measuring employee engagement, belonging, wellness and turnover metrics have known for months that we have been closing in on an historic turning point in workplace design and employee experience.
Metrics that have led us to this point:
- Employee engagement has been on the decline over the last 3 years and in 2022, less than 21% of the global workforce is actively engaged (Gallup)
- In the first half of the year 85% of employees said they were not fully engaged, or actively disengaged at work (Gallup)
- 60% of people indicated they are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable (Gallup)
- Microsoft’s Work Trend Index indicates that 46% of the global workforce is planning to shift to a new career
- 66% of Gen Z want a company culture built on mental health and wellness (LinkedIn)
- Nearly half of young adults experienced mental health decline during the pandemic’s second year, and that the ability to relate to and interact with others has been seriously impaired in over half of young adults across the world (Sapien Labs)
Rising disengagement, lack of connection to leaders and workplace colleagues, mental health declines, and younger generations eager to advocate for themselves are all contributing to this new talent crisis.
As employers have struggled with ongoing attraction and retention challenges, additional workloads have been passed on to employees over the last 24 months. Increasingly sentiment amongst Blu Ivy talent research respondents tell us that they feel their extra efforts in the workplace are going unrecognized, and that the workload balance issue is not being addressed by current employers.
Employees are critically evaluating their situation for the long-term and quiet quitting is one more way of letting employers know that.
Despite the challenges, quiet quitting is not employees being lazy or underperforming at their jobs. With all its facets, employers should be taking the cues of this movement seriously. More worrisome is that it points to productivity losses, ongoing turnover crisis, and workplace reputation declines.
According to a poll by Angus Reid, 76% of Canadians want to re-prioritize other aspects of their life that don’t have to do with work. These include passion projects, travel, and time with loved ones.
At Blu Ivy, a big part of our workplace culture is a focus on employee wellness and wellbeing. We partake in several initiatives, our most consistent being 12:30 p.m. logout time every Friday. We work hard, but we encourage our team members to prioritize time to rest and recharge to avoid burnout.
Quiet quitting, or just doing what your job requires of you, is another method of avoiding burnout at work. Earlier this year, it was reported that one-third of Canadian workers are experiencing burnout, particularly those that are in the healthcare field. Quiet quitting in response is a way for workers to protect their health and disconnect from work when the day is done.
How managers can safely address quiet quitting with their teams
With the quiet quitting movement following the lead of other pandemic-charged movements like The Great Resignation, it is important that leaders view this period as a time to re-engage with employees.
If you’re a leader and unsure how to start the conversation with your team, start by asking what really interests them about the work they’re doing. Understand who on your team may want stretch assignments, aspires to move up the ladder in the near term and who needs to focus more on personal balance. Recognize that each employee, like yourself, will have moments in life that will welcome new challenges, and moments where they need to focus more on their balance.
By showing interest in learning what your team members enjoy most about their roles, what kind of recognition they most prefer, and what they are looking to achieve for themselves in the next 6-12 months from a personal and professional front, you will be able to tailor your approach to how you motivate, mentor, assign and reward your team.
Lastly, be consistent with public recognition of your team’s achievements. Don’t take the easy route and just praise those who were on projects that had high visibility. Be generous with praise and acknowledge everybody’s contributions and extra mile efforts, even if they are smaller scale.
Why acknowledging quiet quitting is essential for your employer brand
Employers should use this opportunity to make things right with their team members. Not only is this important in the short term, but it is a chance to improve how people feel working at your organization down the road.
Any organization that is taking quiet quitting seriously will see this as a chance to better understand the current workforce dynamics, meet current and future employees where they’re at, and evaluate how well their current employer brand and employee value proposition are aligned with those two factors.
For both current and new employees, this is also a wonderful time to lay out what success looks like in their role. Not only how they can succeed in the short term, but what growth looks like in the long term. For those that are already on your team, have individual conversations and lay out a growth plan for the next six to twelve months. Be specific with your criteria, and work with each team member to understand how receptive they are to each stage of the growth plan.
As we talked about earlier, it’s crucial to help your people prioritize what makes them most fulfilled from both a work and personal perspective. Remember that they are whole people, with lives outside of the office, away from Zoom calls, and it is critical that they are not only aligned to the purpose and vision of your company, but that the work they do ties back to the vision they have of how they want their lives to unfold.
This is an opportunity to get to know our employees more deeply. To frequently check in on the whole person vs the work at hand. To understand that employees advocating for themselves can lead to healthier, more engaged and more productive workplaces. This moment can lead to a future of work where talent is proudly thriving, it is simply up to us to learn, and make the systemic, people-first shifts required of our workplace cultures and employee experiences.
Marketing & Content Manager
Blu Ivy Group
Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands and high-performance cultures.
From C-Suite to Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition leadership, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations and design the most compelling workplaces of the future.
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