If you're in HR, you'll no doubt have seen the words "quiet quitting" while skimming LinkedIn at some point. But what exactly is it? How can you spot it early? And most importantly, what can you do to combat it as we move into 2023?
What is Quiet Quitting?
"Quiet quitting" is when employees have mentally "checked out" and have committed to doing only the minimum expected of them to get by. This could be because they're looking for more fulfilling work elsewhere or because they're burned out and have seen no reward or recognition for their previous effort. This isn't unprecedented, but it's been highlighted as a trend because, after the "great resignation", managers are worried about employee motivation.
Causes of Quiet Quitting
While the "quiet quitting" phenomenon is partly explained by wider social and economic trends, there's a lot that can happen within a company that can contribute to the problem.
Excess workloads often lead to quitting because it can be difficult to maintain a high level of productivity over time. Employees may become overwhelmed and feel that they are not able to fulfill more than the minimum requirements. When employees feel this way, they may start to look for other jobs that offer a better work-life balance. The excess workload can also lead to burnout, where employees are exhausted and unable to continue with their previous level of output.
If employees feel they are not being fairly compensated for their work, whether that's their salary, overtime pay, or a small bonus after a hard year, they are more likely to look for other opportunities. In order to retain top talent, it is important to regularly review your salaries and compensation against the competition.
Lack of manager support
A lack of manager support can lead to quiet quitting. Without support, employees may feel like they are not valued or appreciated. This can lead to disillusionment and disengagement.
Additionally, a lack of support can lead to a lack of clarity regarding job expectations and responsibilities. This can cause employees to feel overwhelmed and stressed, which can eventually lead to quiet quitting if they feel they've been doing much more than they really should be. Without good tools like the team management app from BeSlick, employees can quietly quit outside the view of managers.
Without good habits like daily standups or tools like VoIP with SMS in Canada, remote teams can easily suffer from poor communication. Poor communication between teams and managers can lead to quiet quitting. Employees may feel that their voices are not being heard and that their concerns are not being addressed. This can lead to frustration and a lack of motivation, which can eventually lead to an employee quitting "quietly", then resigning altogether when something better comes up.
Effects of Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitting could be a natural response to a poor working environment or company culture. But if managers aren't able to catch and address it in time, it could lead to even more problems.
Disengagement and dissatisfaction
When employees are not satisfied with their work for a long time, they are more likely to disengage and quietly quit. This can lead to a variety of problems including decreased productivity, absenteeism, and employee turnover.
Quiet quitting can also negatively impact an organization's bottom line. For example, in a B2B sales job the requirements of phone systems for Canadian businesses might be very specific to that country. A highly-engaged sales rep would think to research that and use that knowledge to appeal to potential customers in the region. Without going that extra mile, sales could suffer. Therefore, it is important for organizations to find ways to increase employee engagement.
Conflict between teams
When employees are not fully engaged with their work, it can lead to conflict between teams. Because work isn't being done to a high standard, quiet quitting can lead to tension and disagreements, resulting in teams feeling like other people aren't pulling their weight. It's important to ensure that all employees are fully engaged with their work and that they feel like they are part of a team of people who are all working together towards a common goal. Without correction, the company culture can turn toxic.
When employees quietly quit, they're not doing their best work. They're more likely to make mistakes, be less productive overall, and take time off when they otherwise wouldn't. If this spreads through the team, it directly affects the company's bottom line and puts key targets at risk.
How to Spot Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitting won't look the same in every company, or every job. The first signs might be subtle, but there are a few key things to watch out for.
Decrease in productivity
A decrease in productivity can be an early sign that employees are not engaged in their work. It could be the result of any number of factors, many of which won't be their fault, so it's important to get to the bottom of this when you see it.
Avoidance and distance
In a remote setting, where you're trying to manage remote workers to boost productivity, you might notice that some people are less "visible" and they're not proactively checking in with the team about what they're doing. Sometimes it's easy for very busy people to fall into this habit, but it could also be a sign of low engagement that leads to quiet quitting.
Lack of teamwork
A lack of teamwork can be a sign of quiet quitting. If someone is just trying to do what's necessary to get by, they're not going to actively collaborate with other people to make sure things are done to the highest standard. A lack of teamwork might also be a sign of poor communication or insufficient workplace appreciation. This can lead to a lack of trust and cooperation, which fosters low morale and quiet quitting.
How to Prevent Quiet Quitting
So, what can HRs do to combat quiet quitting in 2023? There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a few common sense tips that can help.
Engage your team
When employees are engaged with their work, they are more likely to be productive and to feel satisfied with their job. Low employee engagement can be a result of many factors, including a lack of interesting work, feelings of isolation from co-workers, or a lack of opportunity to use and develop their skills. Engaging your team can prevent quiet quitting by giving people opportunities to interact with their co-workers, learn new skills, and be challenged by their work.
Keep an open door
One way to prevent low engagement is to keep an open-door policy. This means that employees feel comfortable coming to their managers with questions, concerns, and ideas. That could be anything from negotiating a deadline to proposing integrations with Formstack that would save them time every week. When employees feel like they have a mutual give-and-take relationship with their managers, they're more likely to feel engaged in their work.
Prioritize employee work-life balance
When employees feel like they have a good work-life balance, they're more likely to be engaged in their work. This is because they feel like they have the time to do things that are important to them outside of work, and they feel like their job is not taking over their life.
Prioritizing work-life balance could take many forms, from making paid holidays mandatory to allow for more flexible working. Tools like Trello or a Canadian virtual phone number can make remote and hybrid work more feasible for different teams, and sparing employees the commute gives them more free time before and after their workday.
Celebrate and reward employee achievements
Rewarding employee achievements is a great way to prevent quiet quitting. By rewarding employees, you are showing them that you value their hard work and dedication. This will help to keep them motivated and keep delivering consistently. Additionally, it will help to create a high-morale work environment where employees feel appreciated and valued, which will also help prevent quiet quitting.
Make time for one-on-one interaction
Consistent one-on-one interaction between a manager and an employee can prevent quiet quitting by providing the opportunity for the employee to share concerns or issues they may have. This also allows the manager to get to know the employee better, understand what they need to succeed in that position, and understand how best to keep them motivated.
Give constructive feedback
When it comes to feedback, it's important for HRs to be clear, constructive, and specific. This way, employees can easily understand what they need to work on and where to improve. Furthermore, offering positive, constructive feedback can show that you care about your employees' development and are invested in their success.
Invest in employee professional development
When employees feel like they are able to improve their skills and knowledge, they are more likely to be engaged in their work; quiet quitting wouldn't occur to them. Investing in these opportunities is a great way to prevent quiet quitting, and level up skills in the company at the same time.
Professional development can include things like training courses, development programs, and mentorship opportunities. By providing employees with opportunities to improve their skills, you can help to keep them driven and feel like a valued part of the team.
Preventing Quiet Quitting in 2023
Like the "great resignation" and hybrid working, the quiet quitting phenomenon is partly due to forces outside of your company, and outside of your control. But as we take stock in the new year, there's a lot that HRs can do to prevent it from becoming a problem inside their companies.
Grace Lau - Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, business phone systems and AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.