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Combat Quiet Quitting: how to prevent it

By now, most of us have heard of “quiet quitting”: the new term for people who are disengaging from their work.

The concept emerged from employees that are no longer buying into the above-and-beyond work-life that their parents once accepted.

These people are choosing to do only what’s required of them. Rather than working late on a Friday, organising team trips, or starting an hour earlier, quiet quitters are rejecting the hustle culture mindset.

But what’s causing this disengagement to work? How can employers combat it?

Here at Identify Solutions, we’ve outlined ways to reconnect with your employees and help them restore their commitment to work.

What is quiet quitting?

Despite the name, the buzzword doesn’t mean people are actually leaving their jobs. Quiet quitting is doing only what the job requires and nothing more.

Quiet quitting isn’t laziness – it’s more of an indifference. If employees don’t feel cared for, eventually, they lose interest in their role. Their argument is – if you want us to go the extra mile, give us meaningful work, respect, and fair pay for the effort that’s being put in.

Quiet quitting can be a response to burnout and stress, and a way for workers to reclaim their balance in life.

Why is it happening?

The pandemic has had a huge impact on how people think about their approach to work, their connection to their jobs, and their role in the world.

Previous generations were generally brought up to believe that anything was possible with hard work and dedication. Younger adults don’t share the same belief that the system will work for them.

Work-life, quite simply, has changed dramatically. A few generations ago, the unwritten contract for most was transactional: employees showed up, worked their contracted hours, and received a pay cheque and a pension in return.

Now, people feel as though they are doing too much for too little pay.

Whether it’s staying late or working over the weekend, many people put in more hours than their job description sets. Experts call this ‘work creep’.

For some, the extra effort is about advancing their career, for others, it feels like a minimum expectation from their employer.

What are the causes of quiet quitting?

  • Excess workload – i.e., taking on the workload of 2-3 employees
  • Lack of recognition – no rewards or praise for going above and beyond
  • Blurred boundaries – not understanding exactly how much is expected
  • Lack of manager support – poor leadership leads to poor engagement

The effects? A team of disengaged, dissatisfied employees. This can result in low workplace morale, low initiative, and distance from the role.

How can employers combat the issue?

To prevent quiet quitting, managers need to build trusting relationships with their employees. In some cases, they need to regain the trust of those who have become disengaged.

There are ways to prevent quiet quitting before it happens.

Look out for the signs

Tune into the behaviours and attitudes of your employees. If they’re showing signs of nonchalance, it’s probably time for an intervention.

  • Saying no to tasks outside of the traditional job description
  • Not replying to emails or Slack messages outside of work
  • Being less emotionally invested
  • Less overachieving
  • Reduced interest to secure a promotion or pay rise

Help people prioritise

If your employees start to feel like what they’re doing is unimportant, they will lack key prioritising skills.

A brief Monday one-on-one is an easy way to overcome overload at work— which is one of the big drivers of anxiety and burnout.

Take 10 minutes once a week to help your team prioritise their tasks and workload. This will help them focus and feel more confident.

Use clear criteria, such as urgent, important, moderate, and low and then link each project to a business need.

Actively listen

Listening to your employees and validating their feelings can go a long way in preventing people from checking out.

Empathy is also a powerful tool in the fight against quiet quitting. When employees feel understood and listened to, they are much less likely to fade into the background of your workplace.

Regular conversations with employees are a good start. Practice active listening to truly understand your team and their motivations.

Set boundaries

Before employees disengage, you can set boundaries to make sure everyone is on the same page about work-life balance and workload.

For example:

  • Emphasise that answering after-hours calls or emails is optional
  • Find a way to mark messages as urgent and clearly define what constitutes an urgency
  • Reward employees for staying late by allowing them to leave early another day
  • Intervene when co-workers pressure each other to overwork

Leading by example is the best way to prevent quiet quitting. It shows you are actively taking preventative measures to ensure that your people don’t become disengaged.

Make the workplace a safe space

Many employees see quiet quitting as an essential part of mental health. To them, it’s about setting stricter boundaries for themselves to avoid burnout.

When you prioritise emotional health in the workplace, your employees have space to address their needs. When people feel supported with compassion and communication, their output and commitment will naturally grow.

When mental health is put at the forefront, you establish the workplace as a safe space.

Encourage breaks and sustainable growth

We all need to take breaks and find room to recharge. A slight dip in productivity is no need for alarm. It is only when a complacent attitude becomes the norm that a problem arises.

There’s a middle ground between constant hustling and quiet quitting.

To prevent employees from contemplating quiet quitting, encourage breaks and sustainable growth. Work is all about balance.

The Takeaways

Quiet quitting doesn’t usually start quietly. Employees often raise issues that are not addressed or disregarded. Team members may respond by becoming inactive. Even worse, people start to doubt the company leadership.

  • COVID-19 has fuelled stress, burnout, and falling engagement
  • There’s a middle ground between constant hustling and quiet quitting
  • The future of work must seek organisational solutions to employee burnout and exploitation (appropriate workload and employee-centred wellbeing policies) and societal solutions (the four-day working week).
  • Many people are not interested in hustling, which puts profits over human-centred values, like compassion and self-development.

Our Talent Partner solution

As your dedicated Talent Partner, we work with you on all aspects of your talent attraction and talent retention strategies to ensure that once you’ve made the most out of your hiring process, and we’ve found you top talent, they’re here to stay.

For more information, get in touch with our team today to arrange a free consultation, and see how we can help you.

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