Quiet quitting: it’s one of the newest workplace buzzwords. In fact, according to a Gallup survey, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the workforce. Depending on who you ask, the term describes either disgruntled employees slacking off while getting paid or overworked employees giving the minimum effort instead of working unreasonable hours for free. No doubt, you can see why this is creating controversy.
Some feel this is a dishonest way of working while others argue it’s a way for employees to take back control. I understand the appeal of quiet quitting, but I think it is more complex than either of these views. In order to fully understand this new term, there are important things both employers and employees must consider.
What Employers Need to Consider
The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1. Quiet quitting is a symptom that something is wrong – many employees are unhappy with current conditions.
If your people feel this way, you have a problem on your hands. Is it possible you are overworking your team? The pandemic and other economic struggles made for some complex situations, but what if the long hours haven’t slowed down? The conditions may be unavoidable or even unintentional, but the result is the same – burned out employees. You need to address the issues as soon as you can by recognizing employee efforts, adjusting compensation, hiring more staff, or enacting any number of other improvements.
However, the most important factor may not be a specific benefit. After receiving input from more than 113,000 individuals, the Harvard Business Review found one resounding answer for employees disengaging from their jobs: lack of trust.
The pandemic has profoundly changed our lives, and many are rethinking their priorities and redefining what career success means for them. Do you and your leadership team invoke a level of trust in your people? Do they see you committed to supporting them as individuals and not just concerned about making the deadline? Workers value the opportunity to invest in meaningful work with flexible schedules, recognizing and supporting their personal and professional lives.
For example, employees are emphatically asking for remote and hybrid work options, and yet, numerous companies are resisting; high-profile executives continue to forcefully and publicly demand a return to “normal.” It seems to fly in the face of what we’ve seen and learned over the past two years, showing a lack of trust in employees.
For me, it’s a mistake to demand a one-size-fits-all approach when in fact what employees want is not uniform. I believe in the next few years we’ll see the most successful companies develop policies that support a spectrum of options to keep all their employees happy and their business thriving. Companies who don’t address the issues people care about may find themselves with an entire fleet of quiet quitters.
What Employees Need to Consider
For starters, if your company is asking you to work unreasonable and/or unpaid hours, that’s not acceptable. Yes, there are bosses who expect people to go beyond stated responsibilities for no additional compensation. However, quiet quitting doesn’t really solve the problem. It’s merely a band-aid solution.
Quiet quitting may result in you having more personal time, but you will also miss out on professional progress. Simply putting in a minimum effort means you won’t have the chance to work with interesting clients or special projects, which in turn will hinder your ability to learn and grow in your career. You will likely make less money and encounter fewer opportunities for promotions.
Your career will be less lucrative and less fulfilling. Quiet quitting essentially means settling for a mediocre life, which is unnecessary. Not all companies are the same. We work with companies across the country in various industries, and I’ve seen many innovative and exciting places to work. We can help you find a better employer!
The question you need to ask is, why does quiet quitting interest you? Are the hours and expectations of your job clearly unreasonable or are they simply unreasonable for you?
I don’t mean this negatively. We all get to decide how we want to spend our time and energy.
You deserve to feel good at work and feel passionate enough about your job to hustle (not hustle in the sense of doing things for free, but enjoying your work and taking pride in doing it well). If you don’t feel this way, maybe your current position or industry isn’t the right fit for you. You owe it to yourself to find something different, something better.
What can we learn from quiet quitting? The term may be new, but the lessons have been around for decades. Trust and meaningful work are as important as ever. If you are an employer, are you cultivating an atmosphere of trust and integrity? And if you are an employee finding the appeal of quiet quitting, maybe consider you are in the wrong position or industry altogether. It’s worth figuring out because, as I often like to say, we only have one vibrant life to lead. So let’s make it a good one.
Want more marketplace insights from Andrea Brenholz? Don’t miss out on her new podcast, Unicorn in the Boardroom!