Is Quiet Quitting Real?
Does Your Culture Deliver on Your Promises or Disappoint?
In the wake of the Great Resignation, many workplaces are revitalizing their employee value propositions and making promises to their people. For example, some companies assure employees that they'll prioritize worker wellbeing and implement employee assistance programs. With these promises in place, many employees and job candidates have felt renewed hope, optimism and excitement about what their workplace could provide: flexibility, an inspiring mission and managers who genuinely care about their wellbeing.
But here's the problem: If employees perceive workplace promises as an illusion, it's only a matter of time before hopeful workers become discouraged. Experiences must follow brand promises. Experiences are born of culture. If there's a misalignment between your culture and what your employer brand has promised, employees either leave the organization or quietly do the bare minimum.
Touted to be caused by burn-out, quiet quitting is about emotionally disengaging from one’s work and not wanting to do anything beyond the stipulated scope and timing and yet physically and contractually staying employed. The phenomenon of quiet quitting is not new.
A human approach to resolving a problem like quiet quitting could be to understand, resolve and even pre-emptively address the cause. Like in the case of most physical, professional and social anomalies the cause lies in the psyche of the individuals, a greater part of which is hidden in the sub conscious. Yes, what seems to be a social issue could actually be an outcome of some mental health issues.
To address quiet quitting, it’s essential to understand its causes. In my experience working with a variety of businesses in multiple industries, quiet quitting can happen in just about any company at just about any level of business. I’ve noticed that most businesses go through life cycles in which changes happen. Sometimes it’s when a business expands or consolidates its footprint. Other times it’s when a business adds new services or products or changes its business model. Whatever the case, when changes occur, you can expect a period of uncertainty and a decline in work and profits.
It’s during these periods that I believe businesses are most at risk of employees becoming quiet quitters. A business should strive to come out of its low period with momentum. It’s important for business leaders to make improvements, usually in a three- to five-year cycle, to avoid employees losing motivation and faith in the company.
One of the most important elements I’ve observed in addressing quiet quitting is communication among business leaders and their employees. Employers who directly engage their employees could have a better time avoiding quiet quitting or turning things around. Regular check-ins with employees to get a feel for their job satisfaction and keep them informed on the direction, long-term plans and goals of the leadership teams will do a lot to help keep staff members motivated and dedicated. Recognition is also important for many employees and something I’ve seen many business leader's neglect. When your employees’ efforts are acknowledged, they feel like more than just a cog in a machine and that the company’s success is theirs as well.
Another important element for many companies is showing an interest in growth. From my perspective, part of what makes employees lose faith in their employers is uncertainty about the future of the company, which is what I’ve seen when companies make little to no effort to improve or expand. Marketing is a key ingredient to demonstrating a commitment to company longevity, as it shows an interest in bringing in new customers and clients and providing new services.
Without great managers who bring your desired culture to life, your employees could become quiet quitters. And while this quiet quitting may seem like a threat -- it's undoubtedly a problem -- it is fixable. The answer is your culture.
Your culture doesn't need to be perfect. But to attract the best and keep talent from quiet quitting, your promises must match the reality of your culture.