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Why Quiet Quitting Is More Than A HR Buzzword (And What To Do About It)

By September 21, 2022 No Comments

If you’re like us and scroll through the TikTok For You page, you’ve probably heard about a thing called “quiet quitting”. Just like entering your #SoftEra, quiet quitting is all about rejecting hustle culture and toxic work environments – but it’s actually got nothing to do with quitting your job. 

We sat down with Steph Cawthorne, Lead People Development Partner at Lab17 (a talent acquisition and people development company), to discuss the quiet quitting trend and how managers can better support their teams to prevent burnout and disengagement. 

As Steph explains, “whether or not you feel ‘quiet quitting’ is the HR industry’s latest buzzword or a real phenomenon is irrelevant – if you’re not creating human-centred people practices and rolling them out in a sustainable way, you’re at risk of losing your people.” 

Ready to find out what quiet quitting means for your business? Let’s dive into a manager’s ultimate guide to starting a conversation about quiet quitting with your team. 

What is quiet quitting?

We recently spoke about how Gen Z and millennials are entering their #SoftEra as a way of rejecting hustle culture. But, the latest rejection of hustle culture comes with quiet quitting. The hashtag #QuietQuitting has garnered 95.6 million views and counting on TikTok and is making its rounds on Twitter – sparking a big debate on employee burnout and toxic workplace culture.

But what actually is quiet quitting? And does it actually have anything to do with quitting your job?

TikTok creator  @zkchillin explains this concept, sharing that, “you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality.”

Basically, quiet quitting is all about rejecting the belief that work has to take over your life and define who you are. Employees are choosing to stop going beyond their job descriptions, staying back late or taking on extra projects without being compensated. 

In part, the pandemic forced us to re-evaluate our priorities and reimagine the role work plays in our lives. In fact, according to the 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report, only 21% of employees say they are engaged at work and almost half of the world’s workers feel the burden of stress. 

“After dealing with COVID, getting set up to work from home, adjusting to frequent changes in government regulations, and then for many people, moving back into hybrid work, people are simply tired,” shares Steph.

“How people work, how they think about work, and how it integrates into their day-to-day lives has evolved. This has resulted in a sense of change fatigue that I believe has led to a rise in quiet quitting” comments Steph. 

So, it’s no surprise that people are actively finding ways to cope with job dissatisfaction, stress and burnout. Quiet quitting is more than what some might say is ‘lazy young people’ ditching their jobs but rather indicative of the growing negative implications of hustle culture on our health and wellbeing.

Are your staff quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting may not be so obvious to managers because it’s inconspicuous in nature. But, there are some signs that you can look out for, including 

  • Chronic disengagement: disengagement at work may be a big indicator that someone on your team is quiet quitting. This means you’ve started to notice they are putting in less effort and disengaging from work and social events. 
  • Employees are showing a lack of initiative: if you’ve noticed an employee that once would put their hand up to take on new projects or share their ideas is now speaking up less – you may have a quiet quitter on your team. 
  • Isolating from the rest of the team: while it’s normal for employees to isolate themselves from the team periodically due to life stressors, chronic isolation may be indicative of a disengaged employee. This may be a withdrawal from any non-necessary conversations like sitting with the team at lunch, or other tasks or social events.
  • Doing the bare minimum: team members who are quiet quitters will likely only do the bare minimum or only perform tasks that are in their job description – nothing below that or above it.

Why managers shouldn’t be afraid of quiet quitters

Ok so by now we know that quiet quitting is a result of burnout and employee dissatisfaction and it may indicate a bigger problem, but before you start freaking out remember that this may actually present managers (like you) with an opportunity to re-evaluate and restructure their workplace culture. 

Steph from Lab17 says, “I believe that quiet quitting is the product of workplace cultures that don’t prioritise creating an ecosystem for high performance.

“When employees are given the tools, frameworks, rituals and – importantly – support to thrive, this results in higher engagement, motivation, wellbeing, development and retention. 

“If leaders need to slow down and focus on just one thing to cater for the change fatigue in their teams, then the ecosystem for performance should be the focus.” 

Quiet quitting also doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Of course, this depends on the individual, however, setting boundaries at work can be healthy and help to create a positive  work-life balance, which we know can actually increase job satisfaction in the long run. 

How can managers better support their team

As managers, it’s up to you to address the phenomenon of quiet quitting head-on and create a sustainable workplace environment that supports employee satisfaction and engagement. Don’t believe us? Listen to what Steph had to say about how managers can better support their employees. 

“There are 3 pieces of advice I have for managers and leaders to get started on re-engaging their teams:

  • Double-down on 1:1s. 1:1s are the secret sauce to high performance and engagement. These should be a sacred time in the calendar for connection, reflection, checking on wellbeing and workload, and talking about development. The best thing you can do for your team members here is to prepare well, and leave space for sharing – two ears, one mouth.
  • Create opportunities for newness. This doesn’t mean promotions or role changes. What are the small things you can share, delegate or involve your team member in to give them more exposure to different projects or parts of the business? Among the large-scale change fatigue, small, manageable bites of new and interesting opportunities will help to re-engage your team and help them feel valued.
  • Create role clarity. Knowing what’s expected of you and how you fit into the bigger picture is a significant driver of performance and engagement. Managers play a critical role in painting this picture for their team members. Consider co-creating some short-term goals or milestones to re-energise your team members around a vision they’re excited by, or talking through what your values mean in action and how they could live them each day.”

How to keep your team engaged with employee perks 

Alongside implementing some structural changes to your workplace to support your employees, there are many employee perks and benefits that can keep your employees engaged and help them feel valued – particularly when experiencing burnout or disengagement. 

Let’s run through some simple ways to use employee benefits to motivate and engage with your team: 

  • Engaging in team activities that promote wellness: encouraging wellness is a great way to motivate employees by showing them you actually care about their wellbeing. Why not organise a surprise in-office massage with Blys for your entire team to make sure you’re taking proactive steps to create a company culture that fosters a happy, healthy workforce. 
  • Self-care vouchers: whether your team is in the office, working hybrid or completely remote show your employees that you’re invested in their health and wellbeing. Pick up a Blys gift voucher and let your team book in-home beauty, wellness and massage treatments on their own terms.
  • Flexibility at work: this can range from a four-day work week, flexible hours or a half-day on Friday – whatever works for your team and your company. People are increasingly desiring flexibility and greater work-life balance so it’s important to recognise that your team has a life outside of work.
  • Introducing more paid leave: with employee disengagement and burnout rates on the rise, this has a trickle-down effect on people’s mental health. Giving your employees paid mental health days shows them you’re taking their mental health seriously and a few days off to engage in some self-care can seriously help them feel refreshed.

Now that you know quiet quitting isn’t really about quitting your job but a rejection of toxic work environments and hustle culture, there are ways you can start making changes in the workplace to better support your team. 

From structural changes in the way you work to perks and benefits (like in-home self-care treatments), making your people a priority will ensure you keep your best staff around for the long-term.

Ready to give your employees some much-needed self-care time?

Get in touch with our workplace wellness team.

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