Quiet Quitting: What It Is And Why It Should Concern You

The Workforce is in Transition

Since 2020, the workplace has seen massive shifts in both actions and expectations. The most recent and notable of these workforce shifts would be The Great Resignation, which dominated business news outlets throughout 2020 and 2021. Month over month, since mid-2020, millions of people across North America, and the world, started resigning from their job as the solution to employers failing to meet changing expectations in the workplace.

We’ve spoken and written about these changing expectations many times, if you’d like to read more check out our article on The 7X3 Rule.

Not everyone affected by these changes quit their job, an even larger number of people were resigning from the status quo that drained their physical, mental, and emotional health. For some, it was taking a step back and going on a medical or mental health leave.  For others, it was reducing their hours and going down to part-time. But for the vast majority of employees, it was quietly rejecting the “above and beyond” work ethic and taking a more “work to rule” approach to their jobs.

There are different types of quitting

When employees decide to quit and leave, it is hard on businesses. There is a push to fill the vacancy in order to maintain productivity and profitability. But it is a clear and measurable problem.

When employees decide to quit and stay, it is much harder on businesses. When employees decide to resign from the “hustle culture” and work only hard enough to meet the minimum requirements of their job, it also reduces productivity and profitability but is much harder to measure.

This intentional action of when employees quit and stay is the definition of a new term that has gained popularity recently; Quiet Quitting.

Quiet Quitting is the start of the evolution from The Great Resignation towards what’s next: “The Great Disengagement”.

People are slowly accepting that they need to go back to their jobs, and face the factors of the workplace they were rejecting in the Great Resignation in order to pay the bills. However, they are still rejecting inequity and toxic cultures, but now they are protesting them by quietly quitting and becoming disengaged and mentally checking out from their work.

What makes Quiet Quitting a more dangerous phenomenon, than general disengagement, is that is a more intentional act. People are seeing Quiet Quitting as an act of defiance, a way of rejecting the status quo of employers expecting employees to constantly give 110% while only providing the absolute bare minimum of what is legally required by employment law.

What are the signs of Quiet Quitting?

What Quiet Quitting looks like and how it impacts the workplace is not vastly different than general employee disengagement. It is about the lack of motivation, enthusiasm, and desire to go above and beyond in their work.

There are many signs of what Quiet Quitting looks like, from the overuse of “that’s not my job” to watching the clock and counting minutes, to employees no longer sharing their ideas and opinions. However, one of the biggest signs of Quiet Quitting is employees focusing on being busy over being productive. Let’s quickly define what we mean by those terms.

Being Busy is using as much TIME as you can with the TASKS that you have.

Being Productivity is doing as many TASKS as you can with the TIME that you have.

When employees are trying to spread as little work or effort as they can over the time they are required to fill, you have disengagement. Doing as little as possible to stay employed. Which is not only a frustrating issue, but can become a costly problem. The Labour Value Loss of disengagement can be upwards of 34% of an employee’s salary, meaning an employee who is making $50,000 a year, and has quietly quit, is costing their employer $17,000 in lost productivity, errors and mistakes, customer attrition, etc.

There are many signs of Quiet Quitting, but prioritizing busy over productive is the linchpin of most of them.

So what can be done to resolve Quiet Quitting?

The most important step in addressing Quiet Quitting is to understand how employee expectations have changed since 2019. If you would like to dig into that, here is a great article on moving beyond compliance.

A great example of how these expectations are misunderstood is how organizations implement employee engagement. Now, employee engagement gets a lot of lip service but it is massively misunderstood. Many businesses and leaders often misunderstand even how to use the term.

Much of the actions and expectations of employee engagement are seen as using the term as a verb. The act of engaging with employees, often through employee surveys and communication activities.

But what they are really looking for is the noun of having engaged employees. Employees who are motivated and enthusiastic in their work.

The most important thing for business leaders and managers to know is that engaging with employees (the verb) does not by itself create engaged employees (the noun). If you would like to learn a little more about the verb and noun of employee engagement, check out this short explainer video on our new YouTube Channel.

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