What is Quiet Quitting, and is it as Bad as it Sounds?

What is Quiet Quitting? Long hours, under-resourced companies, and poor work-life balance are leading to a revolt from workers who have come to realise that wellbeing is a key priority in life. Many are voting with their feet, as companies are seeing a rise in attrition which is being dubbed as the Great Resignation.

Others, however, are taking back control with what’s being called ‘Quiet Quitting’.

This is being posed as a threat to companies and implies that such employees are coasting by and simply doing the bare minimum.

However, that may not be the case.

Employees can still be excelling at their jobs, but more often are simply drawing the line at taking on additional work, responsibilities, and hours beyond what they were contracted to do.

This can put stress on the employer if they are not adequately staffed and have been relying on the overachievers to fill the gaps that the company is not providing.

Many employees have found themselves with additional responsibilities where companies have not been able to backfill the increasing number of now vacant roles, which can lead to a feeling amongst contributors of being spread too thin and ultimately end up in burnout.

Of course, overload and overwork are topics that in an ideal world, could be discussed directly with a line manager. However not all employees feel comfortable drawing attention to the fact that they are struggling, or they may not believe the manager has the ability to have an impact on what may be a larger systemic issue.

So, what can employers do?

1. Talk to Your Employees

Regular, one on one conversations have always been a key management tool to understand what each employee is going through. Listen first and ask open-ended questions to help get the full picture. Don’t be afraid to talk about their life outside the office to an appropriate degree, as it’s important to understand all the things that could be going on that lead to the employee feeling this way.

2. Be Realistic

We have eight hours in a day, and we can’t expect each of them to be as productive as the others. When planning your workflow bear in mind not just the outcomes, but all the work that leads up to the end goal, such as time spent on research, meetings, and administration of tasks. Sometimes simple tasks are much more complex than they seem. Also, take into account that human productivity naturally ebbs and flows throughout the day and over time.

3. Agree Boundaries

Whether it’s ensuring employees plan ahead for their annual leave in advance or agreeing on no out-of-hours emails, make sure there is consensus around ground rules, and then stick to them. In addition to giving workloads that lead to employees slipping into overtime, it can often be this culture of always-on communications. Discuss everything from which communications channels will be used, to how the team will work together if unplanned work is added to the department’s workload.

4. Build a Culture of Wellbeing

Making sure your employees are in good health and are well rested is the key to more productive hours within the workday. Furthermore, employees who feel appreciated not only get a boost in their overall wellbeing but are more likely to want to go that extra mile if it’s really needed. However, overtime should always be the exception, not the rule. Job security is another key factor of wellbeing. If people are worried about their future, it can be hard for them to focus on what’s right in front of them.

5. Create a Shared Vision

The first step is to ensure each employee knows how their work directly links to the company mission. People are more motivated when they know what it is they are working towards a greater purpose. In addition to this, they should also know what their future at the company may look like. Discussing their personal goals and identifying opportunities such as learning and development, mentorship, or a clearly defined path for progression will help keep them on track. Those who feel like they are growing with the company, instead of the company growing at their expense, are more likely to stick around and enjoy what they do.

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