The Great Resignation was a hot topic in workplace trends until it was recently dethroned by the term “Quiet Quitting”. This new term is not really about quitting, but rather a philosophy that refers to relinquishing any tasks that go beyond one’s assigned duties, and in turn, becoming less psychologically invested in work. 

In these post-pandemic times, when people’s priorities have shifted, wellbeing and work-life balance have taken the lead above all other needs. While most organizations are used to having people fill in gaps, go the extra mile, and exert an effort to stand out, quiet quitting appeared as an employee power move to retain their psychological well being. Employees may view this as a way to restore balance in their life, while organizations perceive it  as taking something away that the organization deserves to receive.

But what happens when many of your employees suddenly decide to do the bare minimum and  to be content with mediocrity?

According to Gallup, the drop in employee engagement began in the second half of 2021 during the rise in job resignations. Managers, among others, experienced the greatest drop. This was especially related to clarity of expectations, opportunities to learn and grow, feeling cared about, and a connection to the organization’s mission or purpose, signaling a growing disconnect between employees and their employers.

First of all, let’s look at some warning signs of quiet quitting:

  1. Does the employee seem chronically disengaged from their tasks?
  2. Is the employee performing the bare minimum of their performance standards?
  3. Does the employee seem isolated from the rest of their team?
  4. Did a high performing employee suddenly stop taking initiative?
  5. Are other employees reporting a sudden increase in their workload in having to pick up the slack?

How to Address the Quiet Quitting Dilemma?

  1. Examine the Cause

Have your employees lost sight of the bigger purpose?

Quiet quitting might be a sign of employees re-examining their life and re-searching for their purpose. When such a big shift happens, communication is our main savior. So, the first question to ask is: Does your current workplace culture prioritize open communication?

The goal of open communication between employees and company leaders in this scenario is to have a deeper look into each others’ perspectives and search for common grounds.  When employees are given the space to speak up about this shift in their realization, this will create room for navigating how to best align employees’ personal needs with the needs of the company.

  1. Listen Well

Sometimes, listening should go beyond showing empathy. Gathering qualitative and quantitative data around employees’ needs provides excellent insights to base your changes on. Analytics tools can offer visibility into factors driving employee wellbeing and performance. However, the prerequisite to this is ensuring that psychological safety is prevalent at your workplace and that employees trust that the employer is actually listening with the intent to address their needs and concerns.

  1. Engage your Managers

Managers are at the forefront of communication with employees, and they may have had the opportunity to learn more about their team member’s strengths, concerns and needs. In order to address manager engagement, organizations should reskill managers to adapt with the new hybrid environment and should empower them to advocate for employees’ needs when necessary.  Gallup, for example, finds the best habit to develop for successful managers is having one meaningful conversation per week with each team member for 15-30 minutes. Such conversations can be quite insightful and can help build a strong business case for any workplace amendments that can bring the company a step closer to resolving employees’ concerns.

  1. Ensure your Employees Feel Valued

How do you make sure your employees know that their presence, skills and work are needed and valued? Recognizing employees goes a long way. It could be as simple as acknowledging milestones in their lives and celebrating achieved goals or completed projects.

  1. Focus on Wellbeing

Appointing designated wellbeing leaders is an excellent way to ensure that employees’ mental and physical health is given the priority it deserves. The role of wellbeing leaders is to launch and oversee initiatives that proactively address employee wellbeing and to make small changes that could go a long way, such as break times, energy boosting sessions, and simple conversations to talk about frustrations as well as achievements.

  1. Consider Job Crafting 

Instead of promoting a culture where people feel like they need to be “on call” at all times, leaders should encourage employees to re-craft their jobs in a manner that allows them to transform the job they have into a job they truly desire. Jobs, after all, can be broken down into smaller blocks that can be reshuffled to create more fulfilling experiences. This begins by identifying each employee’s individual motives, strengths, and passion, based on which a new set of tasks can be created to represent a better allocation of the employee’s  time, energy, and attention. All it requires is taking a step backwards from the “daily hustle” and noticing that we have the capability to reshuffle elements of our work and create a version of it that genuinely reflects who we are and what we aspire to achieve.

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