“Quiet Quitting” has become a buzzword over the past few weeks, causing great debate for employers and employees alike. But what is it? What causes it? Is it something you should worry about as an employer? And what can you do about it? We’ve got you covered.
What is Quiet Quitting?
Quiet Quitting is a kind of Work-To-Rule, where employees only engage with work during the hours agreed, and only perform the tasks stipulated in their contract. It generally turns up in the form of employees withdrawing from work activities and team interactions, or else setting stronger boundaries between their work and home life. Simply put, it’s when an employee does exactly what they are told to do – no more than that. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – a healthy work-life balance is important – it does pose potential concerns for employers. We’ll explore that more below.
Why are employees Quiet Quitting?
There are many reasons employees might be checked out at work, ranging from easy-to-solve things to things that might need more patience, input, and empathy. Some of these include:
- Employees growing bored of their current role
- A lack of challenges or opportunities to grow and progress
- Lack of recognition for achievements
- A mismatch of the employee’s skillset to the role
- A misalignment of the employee’s personal goals and values with those of the company
- An issue with a teammate or the broader team in general
- Other personal issues, mental health struggles, losses, or illnesses
- A traumatic workplace experience (such as bullying, sexual harassment, or even sexual assault) that an employee doesn’t feel comfortable or safe to confront
How do I spot Quiet Quitting?
Quiet Quitting can be difficult to spot because the signs of it aren’t always obvious. This goes double when you have a remote team. I reached out to our CEO, Sasha Knott, and our COO, Kelly Louw, for their expert opinion on what to look out for.
“As remote managers, we usually pick up Quiet Quitting when our teammates aren’t their usual selves, and when they’re not performing like they used to. Things like being more withdrawn, not attending remote meetings, and not contributing to meetings are signs that something has changed.”
“Some key signs are body language and tone of voice in meetings, a change in attitude, or their reaction to the adoption of new tasks.”
Some other ways to spot it include a sudden drop in productivity, withdrawing from team social activities and interaction, and not developing in their role. These signs may not immediately point to Quiet Quitting, but they are things to look out for.
Why is it concerning?
Quiet Quitting is worth looking into because of the effect it can have on your team. Sure, partly because your team is not as productive as usual, but also because:
- You might be out of touch with your team and where they’re at
- You might not be using your employees in the areas they would thrive
- You may be expecting the unreasonable
- It may be time to restructure and restrategize
- You might not be creating a safe space for honest and helpful feedback
How do I combat Quiet Quitting?
When you spot what you think might be quiet quitting, communication is key. For all of the reasons listed above, it’s important to come from a place of understanding first and foremost. Here are some strategies Sasha and Kelly suggest:
- Encouraging personal time – make sure employees take their leave and make sure that your team respects their time off
- Stepping back and stepping out – encourage time outside of the office to refresh and realign
- Identifying training/mentoring needs
- Creating fun – things like competitions, face-to-face meetings, and informal catchups go a long way to build team morale
- Creating an anonymous suggestion box and ensure everyone can report to someone other than their Line Manager about issues they may be having
- Sending out anonymous surveys or burnout/stress surveys to identify areas where your team may be struggling
More important than anything is keeping clear, honest, and safe lines of communication open. If your team feels like they can bring up issues as they happen, you’ll be able to identify where things are going wrong before they’re real problems. Always keep in mind that each of your team members has their own struggles, own challenges, and own personal lives. By making sure that their whole life isn’t their job, you can give them the space to bring their A-game to their role.