What is “Quiet Quitting”?

Quiet Quitting is about rejecting the notion that work dominates one’s life and that employees should go above and beyond what their job descriptions entail. Employees do the bare minimum instead of quitting their jobs completely.

Back in July 2022, a TikTok user suggested quitting the idea of going above and beyond at work. It gained more than 3 million views and helped popularize the phrase. The trend is resonating with Gen Z and Millennial workers who are fighting for a better workplace.

Quiet Quitting runs parallel with the Great Resignation. The problem with the Great Resignation is that it assumes everyone has somewhere else to go. However, for individuals who feel there’s no alternative job and need to stay employed, Quiet Quitting becomes the next available option.

Analysis

The Employee perspective

According to a recent Pew Research survey, the top three reasons why Americans leave their jobs are:

  • Inadequate income.
  • Lack of promotion chances.
  • Feeling disrespected at work.

Manager’s impact

Research referenced on Harvard Business Review indicated how data was used to gain a better perspective. The data was gathered since 2020 on 2,801 managers, who were rated by 13,048 direct reports. On average, each manager was rated by five direct reports, and compared on two data points:

  • Employees’ ratings of their manager’s ability to “balance getting results with a concern for others’ needs”.
  • Employee’s ratings of the extent to which their “work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile”.

Managers who rated highest had 62% of their employees willing to give extra effort. Only 3% were Quietly Quitting. The least effective managers had up to four times as many people in the “Quiet Quitting” category. These managers had 14% of their direct reports Quietly Quitting, and only 20% were willing to give extra effort.

The research indicates that Quiet Quitting is primarily about bad bosses rather than bad employees.

Business impact

Quiet Quitting can lead to negative outcomes:

  • Employee conflicts. Some employees will feel others aren’t carrying their weight.
  • A lack of motivation means task inflexibility and inability to work in a team.
  • It creates a wave of inadequate and underdeveloped employees.

Can there be positive outcomes?

Under the right circumstances, there is a positive outlook:

  • Short-term Quiet Quitting may help an employee to refocus on their needs outside of work. This helps with recovering from burnout and not working beyond their limits.
  • Feeling more refreshed, an employee may become more efficient during the hours they are working.

Impact summary

Previously, the work-life balance was a passive aggressive challenge by employees. Today, it’s no longer a request, it’s a demand.

Being proactive with the Employee Experience

There may be many underlying reasons for Quiet Quitting in the company. To uncover these reasons, HR is best positioned to evaluate the overall Employee Experience through a manageable survey process. A typical evaluation would assess the following for each department:

  • A satisfying and enjoyable work environment.
  • Meaningful development that includes training.
  • A positive work culture and shared peer respect.
  • Valued leadership influence.
  • Recognition for excellent customer service.

With a continuous assessment and trend analysis, HR can identify where improvement is needed and advise managers on any corrective actions needed.

For Managers, they should take a hard look at their approach for getting better results with their teams:

  • Build mutual trust. Balance results with a concern for each member.
  • Be consistent. Deliver on what is promised and treat each member equally.
  • Give recognition. Acknowledge a job well done with sincerity.
  • Know the job well so that personal opinions, advice, and direction setting is well received and respected.

Conclusion

What we already know is that the more meaningful the work, the higher the engagement and the less likely employees are to leave their workplace. According to a recent Gallup poll, it takes more than a 20% pay raise to lure most employees away from a manager who engages them, and next to nothing to poach most disengaged workers.

“The pandemic changed the way people work and how they view work. Many are reflecting on what a quality job feels like, and nearly half are willing to quit to find one. Reversing the tide in an organization requires managers who care, who engage, and who give workers a sense of purpose, inspiration and motivation to perform.” Gallup

Quiet Quitting is another way employees are trying to communicate their deep dissatisfaction with the culture of work. If you are a leader, what is more concerning: people leaving the workplace or employees keeping their jobs and doing the minimum required?

About the Author: Martin Brandt

Martin Brandt is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for JamAngle.