Quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon. You’ll find within any organisation a group of people who are enthusiastic and driven to go over and above in their job. On the opposite end, you’ll find staff who would rather be anywhere else than work and cause a level of disruption. Then in the middle are the group most at risk of quiet quitting.
It is this group that’s been growing over the past year in organisations. People who would once bring their best selves to the office, putting in the effort and innovating are instead going through the motions. Clocking in for their day and no longer showing enthusiasm for their jobs.
Quite often, those who fall into this group are unaware that they’re quietly quitting. Or that there is an impact from their newly found apathy towards their part in the team. This is why it’s important to spot the signs of quiet quitting before they become a bigger problem for the team and the organisation.
Why is Quiet Quitting a Problem?
If the people in this group are not being disruptive and are doing their job – is quiet quitting a problem that organisations should focus on?
Yes. When someone starts to disengage with their work and ultimately their motivation to do that work, then they also start to disengage from their teams. This means that it impacts the team as a whole.
Plus, according to Gallup, around 50% of the workforce is now in this quiet quitting group which means that around half of your staff are unlikely to be working to their full potential. That means half of your staff not being as productive as they could be, coming up with new ideas, or working together to problem solve.
How would your business feel if it dropped 50% of its output overnight? You’d certainly feel it on your bottom line. So as more staff start to quietly quit, it has an impact on the business as a whole.
Plus, Gallup research finds that quiet quitting is more prevalent amongst younger workers who can benefit from better employee engagement.
Let’s take a look at the signs of quiet quitting.
1. Doing the Bare Minimum
This is the person who slowly does less work, turning up to do what will get them through the day rather than going over and above to spot how their work can help others in the team.
It might be someone clocking on and then slowly turning off throughout the day so they are ready to leave on the dot. Not that presenteeism is a sign of someone not quietly quitting. In fact, presenteeism can also mask someone losing interest in their work. Having the appearance of being at work is not the same as the quality of work that is produced. Looking at quality over quantity can help you spot if someone is on the path to quietly quitting.
2. A “That’s Not My Job” Attitude
While you’ll mostly see this attitude in those who are completely disengaged and disruptive at work, you can also spot signs of this sneaking in when someone is quietly quitting.
They may pass off a request for work to another member of the team. In fact, other team members may notice an increase in work that can alert you to someone quietly quitting.
When a person is fully engaged in their work, they’ll be enthusiastic about seeing the bigger picture. They won’t see themselves as a silo doing solely their job description. However, when quiet quitting seeps in, you’ll see this willingness to look beyond their role start to diminish.
3. No Interest in Career Progression
If you have someone pegged for career progression but you’ve lately been questioning that decision, it might be because they are quietly quitting. Again, the person in question may be unaware that is what they’re doing but something in their motivation to get that next promotion has dwindled.
This is a big red flag that you should address as soon as possible. Getting someone back on track for career progression can help rekindle the meaning and motivation behind their work.
4. They Avoid Meetings
Or they stop speaking up in meetings and offering ideas and insights. While workload and deadlines might make someone want to move or miss a meeting once in a while, consistent avoidance will signal that something deeper is wrong.
When an employee is no longer engaged in their work or the organisation, they have no motivation to contribute in meetings. Therefore, attending meetings has less meaning for them.
5. Disengaging with the Team
Your quiet quitters will also start disengaging with their team. This can show up as not wanting to attend any social events or take part in group conversations. It’s likely that their team members will pick up on these subtle changes first.
As we’ve already seen, someone who identifies less with their team is also less likely to help out, or offer support or ideas. This will impact the whole team both in terms of productivity and energy.
The Difference Between Quiet Quitting and Burnout
Burnout can often have very similar signs to quiet quitting. In fact, feeling burnt out can make a staff member question their work-life balance. Yet, the two need very different approaches. Supporting someone through burnout can involve giving them more support and lessening their workload. They are not necessarily disinterested in their jobs anymore.
However, someone who has lost the motivation for work often does so for very different reasons.
What Causes Quiet Quitting?
Some of the reasons people fall into this quiet quitting group include:
- Feeling undervalued in their role
- Wanting a better work-life balance
- No longer feeling part of the team or company culture
- A lack of leadership support.
What Can You Do about Quiet Quitting?
If you notice your team members quietly quitting, the first step is to have an open and honest conversation about why this is happening so steps can be put in place to support them. Employee engagement is crucial here.
Let’s say they are feeling undervalued in their role. This is an opportunity to look at what skills they need for their next career move. You can put in learning and development programmes to support this and create a roadmap to their next promotion.
Perhaps they want a better work-life balance. Here you can look at their workload and the ways in which they work. It might be that you can offer hybrid working or offer programmes that help them use their home life passions to inspire their work.
If they are no longer feeling part of the team or company culture, it’s worth looking at which parts of that culture are not working for them. If you have an “always on” culture, it might be that they need clearer boundaries to help them refresh their energies.
Boredom is also common among those who have been in their role for some time. They no longer find it challenging and need to change what they are doing. This is an opportunity to give them a new challenge within their role and get that work spark back.
Finally, if there is a lack of leadership support causing the quiet quitting then it’s worth looking at how you can help your leaders engage better with their teams. This will benefit all members of the team, as well as those quietly quitting.
It is always better to help staff be happy and engaged, even if their career might take them to new organisations in the long run. While they are working with your company, you want them to be bringing their energy to the role and their support to the team.
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