Sunday, May 19, 2024

Are we overthinking the quiet quitting trend?

The past few years we’ve all witnessed sporadic changes in the professional work environment that have completely thrown out the traditional paradigm of the office.

But nothing has been as concerning as the alarming numbers and trend of quiet quitting. The trend of doing the bare minimum, strictly sticking to the job description and a reduction in engaged employees is costing businesses $1.5 trillion globally.

It’s commonly associated with deteriorating mental health in the workplace and quiet quitters are often thought of as lazy – never going ‘above and beyond’. In fact, Gallup’s recent State of the Workplace Report found that 67% of employees are quit quitting.

But instead of blaming workers, hustle culture mentality or the healthy work life balance trend – here’s an interesting take.

Rethinking our expectations

You missed attending non-mandatory meetings past your work hours? Must be a quiet quitter.

Perhaps our expectations have become warped and the term called quiet quitting has been blown out of proportion. And the issue lies in the label or definition itself.

Quiet quitting is when employees put in minimum effort to keep their jobs but don't go the extra mile for their employer.

According to this definition, anyone who doesn’t display extra effort other than completing their primary responsibilities is a quiet quitter. Remote employees are often criticized for not being onsite and businesses lack trust in them, because what if they’re not working once their tasks are complete but there are still more hours before they clock off?

Now let’s flip the coin and see a different perspective.

As an employee, you are either completing the tasks assigned or you’re not. So long as everything is submitted to the company’s standard on time, and you don’t arrive late to work, then your work requirements are satisfied.

White-collar workers are paid by their set hours and once that clock hits your final minute, there’s generally no compensation. So why are employees labeled as quiet quitters if their tasks are complete and all hours have been attended?

Going above and beyond for the employer is a great initiative if going up in the ranks is a goal. But if a promotion or raise isn’t someone’s objective, then completing all requirements to a high standard should be indicative of a good employee.

For a more accurate representation of the state of our workforce, we must redefine ‘quiet quitting’ or simply give the definition a different label. The current standard of not displaying a significant amount of extra effort equating to an actively disengaged worker is a poor definition that will continue to blow the trend out of proportion.

Poor management is real

Are managers quiet quitting?

In the corporate setting, all studies have been conducted on employees which paint the majority as disengaged.

According to Gallup’s report, employees would be more engaged if factors within office culture, well-being, along with pay and benefits were improved – all of which are linked to poor management.

Many or most of your managers are quiet quitting too.

Managers are accountable for bringing the most out of their team and identifying opportunities for growth. Successful managers will combat quiet quitting by identifying characteristics of an employee who no longer finds satisfaction in their work.

Typical signs such as minimal contribution to meetings or frequently missing productivity metrics can be rectified quickly under great management. Whether it’s through indirect methods or scheduling a friendly meeting to check up on your team, it begins at the top of the chain.

Where it all stems from

The pandemic has changed everything.

The past few years has changed everyone’s outlook on work and life.

Health has become a priority and people prioritize themselves instead of working overtime or always being present in the office. The pandemic is also telling of whether managers are quiet quitting or not.

As per Gallup’s report, most issues can be traced back to poor management.

If managers have remained the same pre and post-pandemic, then nothing has changed internally. Numbers indicate that workers were more engaged pre-pandemic and this opens the possibilities of managers becoming quiet quitters.

The onset of stress and disconnection from work because of the pandemic has lingered consistently. Manager’s account for 70% of the variance in team employee engagement and similarly to everyone else, they also experience difficulties.

Most quiet quitters seek clearer goals and stronger guidance. They have a desire to learn new skills in their workplace and want greater autonomy. Gallup suggests that these employees are doing work but not “thriving”.

Moving past this concerning hurdle will take frequent and meaningful feedback from managers, with individualized information. Ultimately, the definition or label of quiet quitting will also need to change if we are to get a better representation of the global workforce.

Our focus should be on more concerning trends, such as loud quitting and how managers can navigate these challenges.

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