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1st Nov, 2022

Olivia Maguire
Olivia Maguire
Job Title
Content Marketing Lead

What is ‘quiet quitting’?

The term ‘quiet quitting’ seems to have been a ‘buzzword’ over the past few months, but was first popularised in March 2022, when a series of TikTok videos took the nation by storm. These videos by career coach and YouTuber Brian Creely, now have millions of views.

Quiet quitting doesn’t mean someone is quitting their job, but quitting going above and beyond, and instead being content to do the minimum requirement. However, the concept is far from new, it’s something that HR professionals and managers have been aware of for many years.

Karen Jackson, HR Director at Reed, said: “For years people have worked in different ways; some work to live and others live to work, some like to be emotionally connected to the organisation and its values, and others do not. There is no right or wrong here, they are just different, and leaders and managers need to be able to navigate these different outlooks within their teams.”

Not to be confused with slacking off, quiet quitting focuses more on someone being content with their current job, but not having the motivation to go above and beyond. This person doesn’t actively seek out development opportunities, expand their knowledge, or look for new ways of working. They simply perform well enough to get by in their current position and feel happy to stay there.

Is quiet quitting a bad thing?

All the above being said, is quiet quitting a bad thing? When someone quits something, it insinuates that there’s a level of unhappiness, but looking at the above description of quiet quitting, it doesn’t seem that unhappiness is the leading factor here.

If someone is content to do the job they are required to do, and is happy where they are, then why should they be expected to go above and beyond for their organisation?

Here the issue lies with employee motivation. According to a study by Zoellner & Sulikova in 2022, “effective motivation supports not only higher productivity, job satisfaction and loyalty, but also reduces fluctuations and absence of employees.”

When it comes to the effect this can have on businesses, employees failing to go above and beyond and being unwilling to develop in their roles, can stifle innovation and growth across organisations. If you want an organisation where new ideas can be shared and where every member of staff is motivated to do the best they can, then you need to actively encourage employees to go above and beyond, lead by example from the top down, and embed this within your company culture.

How to recognise if your employees are quietly quitting

Quiet quitting for some may be an active choice which as a manager can be easier to spot. If your team member shows the following behaviours, it may mean that they have quietly quit:

  • Attends but stops engaging during meetings

  • Turns down opportunities for development

  • Stops nominating themselves for tasks

  • Isolates themselves from colleagues

  • Performs only to the minimum expected level

  • Acts disengaged from their work on a chronic basis

The difficulty comes when employees quietly quit subconsciously, as the behavioural change may be inconsistent and/or more gradual. Therefore, holding regular one-to-ones to keep the lines of communication open, and measuring work-based outputs effectively are key.

How to re-engage employees

It is your company’s responsibility to provide a workplace where your employees feel empowered and proud to work compelling them to go want to go above and beyond. Graham Wilson, Leadership Wizard and Founder of Successfactory, recommends the following steps for employee re-engagement:

  • Check-in with your team

As a leader it’s important to ensure you make time to check in on feelings and team ‘get togethers’ where the focus is on relationships and connection.

  • Celebrate successes

Take time to celebrate successes and use collaborative visualisation tools to map out progress and see the value your employees are adding.

  • Offer development opportunities

Ensure that teams and individuals take up opportunities to grow and develop through training and self-development and take responsibility for sharing work-based learning with others.

  • Utilise strengths

Make sure teams can utilise the full expertise and capability of every team member and have the autonomy to do so.

  • Ensure your team feel valued

You must ensure team members feel valued. Teams that are widely recognised for their capability and achievement, praised, and thanked for their efforts and results, and appropriately rewarded for their contribution, perform well.

  • Provide tools needed to succeed

And finally, you must ensure that every team feels it has the resources, information and management support and commitment it needs to be able to perform at the highest level.

Reed’s HR Director Karen Jackson also believes the relationship between employee and manager is crucial. She said: “There is a golden thread that runs through hybrid working, connectedness, communication and culture, work-life balance, mental health and wellbeing - this is the employee/manager relationship. I believe this is the key to combating those considering quietly quitting.

“Having a great manager, who gets you as the employee, where there are joint aspirations and goals, where there is open and honest conversation, where input and output are valued and appreciated, where there is true care in the relationship and more importantly trust, this is where the magic happens.”

Ultimately, it’s up to managers and organisations to see to it that they are cultivating a workplace culture on both a company-wide and team basis that motivates and engages employees, gives them the tools they need to succeed in their careers, and provides a sense of shared purpose and community.

If you are looking for a talented professional to join your team, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.