If you haven’t heard already, employees are exercising a new tactic being referred to as Quiet Quitting. It seems like every fiscal quarter that companies have a new work trend they are forced to adapt to and address. With hiring rates slowing, and flex work now the norm, many professionals are finding inspiration from TikTok for the latest trend in workforce development. Yes, it sounds like we may be transitioning from the bustle of the ‘great resignation’ to the more tiresome age of ‘quiet quitting’.
Without an abundance of new shiny jobs for professionals to longingly pursue, many have resorted to doing the bare minimum.
While some have reduced this trend to a simple case of “young professionals not wanting to work hard”, there might be more to it. Companies stand to benefit from some self-reflection to understand how their culture and processes are affected by ‘Quiet Quitting’.
What are the causes of quitting and why are young professionals seemingly more affected by it than usual? Let’s dive in!
What Causes ‘Quiet Quitting’?
People don’t just wake up one day ready to do the bare minimum. People descending into quiet quitting are experiencing a symptom of the changing culture and psyche of the modern workplace.
Burnout is a common occurrence in the workplace and it leads to massive losses for both employees and employers. 77% of employees say they are burned out at work. The resulting symptoms include low productivity, poor collaboration, and general cynicism towards one’s workplace and company. You don’t have to be an expert to grasp how these sets of symptoms could lead to ‘Quiet Quitting’.
The workplace of the early 2020s has been particularly taxing on most workplaces in various forms. While companies made some great adjustments to meet these modern challenges, the fact remains that employees were challenged to adjust and perform better than ever before to survive. While the perseverance of these workplaces has laid the foundation for an exciting future in enterprise learning and workplace development, it hasn’t come without consequence.
The result of the stresses of the past few years has pushed employees to the brink culminating in the emergence of ‘quiet quitting’. As described by Kathy Caprino, “[Quiet Quitting] is about stopping doing work that people think is beyond what they were hired to do and not getting compensated for,”
The burnout exacerbated by ‘Quiet Quitting’ comes down to a series of disconnects between companies and their workforce. For various reasons, this disconnect has made work more emotionally detached and transactional. Professionals are absolutely entitled to have boundaries regarding their job requirements, compensation, and work-life balance. However, reducing our approaches to work to this shallow level does not benefit company growth or the success of professionals’ careers.
What is the happy middle between a ‘toxic grind’ culture and an “I don’t get paid to do that” culture? The key is ensuring company culture is consistent with the career values and goals of employees. This is impossible to uphold for every single employee but it is at least something that should be part of the ethos of all leadership and culture strategies. Companies hold a responsibility to give their employees a sense of purpose. This entails transparent communication between leadership and the workforce. Connecting business goals (for the business) and career goals (for individual employees) gives everyone something to aspire to daily and helps people push their potential while avoiding catastrophic burnout.
But how can the connection between career purpose, productivity, and company output be maximized beyond succession planning and organizational charts? How can we embed this connection into the daily ethos of our organizational culture? Will this be enough to keep professionals motivated and avoid ‘Quiet Quitting’?
Why Are Young People Quiet Quitting?
As discussed, the latest branding for employee disengagement has adopted the tagline of ‘Quiet Quitting’. In many ways, quiet quitting is a symptom of the struggles manifesting in the workplace in the aftermath of the pandemic. Several factors traceable to 2020 could explain a sense of detachment and uncertainty facing professionals and companies alike. Work from home continues to distance colleagues from one another and continued RTO false starts only add to this. Additionally, the economic impacts of quantitative tightening are only starting to affect the hiring market.
These trends are making employees feel emotionally detached from their work and discouraged with their career prospects. How is this detachment manifesting in people’s careers? How do these dynamics ultimately lead to Quiet (or not so quiet) Quitting?
Employees Quit When They Aren’t Included
Inclusion is a vital component of company culture. However, another part of inclusion entails the inclusion of employees in company decision-making. While companies ultimately need to make decisions in their own best interest, they stand to benefit by bringing their employees to the decision-making table when possible.
When employees are involved in making decisions, they gain a professional and personal stake in the organization and its overall success. Including employees in the company, decision-making gives them a sense of insight and control over their career trajectory within their workplace.
Including employees in decision-making brings out their ideas. This is invaluable when companies are brainstorming ways to tackle various challenges.
Employees Quit When They Aren’t Mentored
90% of workers who have a mentor report being happy in their job. Employees who are involved in mentoring programs have a 50% higher retention rate than those not involved in mentoring and 93% of mentees believe their mentoring relationship was useful. Unfortunately, not all employees receive mentorship.
Mentors can help younger employees build confidence to navigate and grow their careers. Mentorship is invaluable to career development and long-term success. Mentors can help younger employees develop soft skills and leadership skills that will help them build valuable connections that empower their success.
These skills can be crucial to helping younger employees overcome some of the politics of office culture. Without these skills, employees can become detached from their peers and disillusioned when their career growth stagnates. Both strongly exacerbate the symptoms that ultimately lead to quite quitting or worse.
Employees Quit When They Aren’t Heard
When employees are not mentored or included, they don’t feel heard. Research by AON showed that 83% of employees feel they are not heard “fairly or equally”. This trend is further exacerbated by underrepresented groups. Just under half of the professionals (46%) believe underrepresented voices are not effectively listened to.
Unsurprisingly, the same research corroborates the fact that younger employees were more affected by disruptions of COVID. A lack of face-to-face, mentorship, and general communication from employer to employee has made young employees feel forgotten.
The resulting effect is a loss of equity in the workplace. This is affecting younger and underrepresented employees more. Understanding this, it makes sense those stuck at the bottom of the career ladder may feel more dejected about their careers and detached from their workplace.
How To Fix Quiet Quitting Going Forward
Simply put. Quiet Quitting is another form of disengagement. While there is debate around the proper way to address Quiet Quitting, it’s clear something needs to be done. In most cases, employers just simply need to be better. They need to do a better job at getting insightful feedback from their employees, analyzing said feedback, and converting that feedback into action.