Recently, companies have experienced a paradigm shift in the relationship they have with their employees and expectations concerning loyalty and retention. The once common two-weeks’ notice to inform an employer of a job, company, or career move has evolved into a more common trend in which an employee either mentally checks out and coasts through the daily grind or simply does the bare minimum to remain employed while actively searching for a new opportunity elsewhere. This new employment phenomenon, known as “quiet quitting,” has left employers with lower productivity rates, unknown realized turnover issues, and a step behind in the battle for talent during the Great Resignation. To combat this trend, it’s important to understand what is causing employees to “quietly quit,” how to read the telltale signs, and what to do to ensure your star employees don’t secretly head for the door.
What Is Causing Quiet Quitting?
While many may not realize the gravity of this situation, it is a lot more common than you may think. Gallup recently did a study on this workforce trend and found that “quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the workforce.” Moreover, Gallup also found that while employee engagement remained stagnant at 32% (down from 36% in 2020), actively disengaged workers rose to 18% (up from 14% in 2020), lowering the ratio of engaged to disengaged to the lowest in nearly 10 years. Those neither engaged nor actively disengaged fit the mold of “quiet quitters”—those mentally detached.
The causes of this trend run the gamut; but the most common are burnout, stress, poor work-life balance, and lack of boundaries. During the most recent trend, The Great Resignation, a Pew Research study found that the main causes were low pay, no advancement opportunities, feeling disrespected at work, child care issues, not enough flexibility, among others. These too could be spill-over causes for quiet quitting.
What Are the Telltale Signs?
As leaders, it’s important to be involved in your employees’ overall experience at work—and being observant and having open communication goes along with that. Even if everything seems fine on the surface, you could still have some of your team among the quiet quitters. Here are just a few signs to look for in your employees to determine if they’ve succumbed to this trend:
- Lack of enthusiasm at work or within their job
- Low engagement in meetings or missed meetings
- Isolation from other teammates and/or lack of collaboration
- Lower performance/production levels
- Workplace despondency or passion
- Showing up late/leaving early
These red flags can mean one of three things, either they are setting boundaries to avoid being taken advantage of, are actively seeking another job, or simply have experienced overwork or burnout and are trying to alleviate anxiety and stress in the workplace. The only way to determine which is to have meaningful conversations in discovery.
What Can You Do to Fix It?
While it may be too late to reverse the effects for all employees, it is never too late to help build a culture to minimize this issue and create an environment that negates this trend in the future. Most of the individuals who are participating in this trend have some amount of engagement issues. As a leader, you can improve the employee experience, which in turn, may help increase overall engagement and decrease apathy in the workplace. If you are experiencing this in your organization, try these quick tips to help your workforce:
Open the lines of communication – Employees need to feel heard and know their professional needs are being met.
Manage workloads and stress levels – Burnout is the quickest way to push workers to the brink. Make sure your team practices delegation and shares the workload.
Create clear paths for professional development – When workers feel like they’ve hit the ceiling, they stop trying to progress. Determine their goals and create paths to achieve them.
Allow for flexible schedules/remote work – During the past few years, employees have come to expect more flexibility to do their job and create work-life balance.
Proselytize the vision and purpose of the position – Team members need to know that their work makes a difference, so it’s important to clearly show how each employee’s work contributes to the company’s mission.
Quiet quitting may be the new buzzword in employment, but the issues it presents are nothing new for leaders of all industries. It’s important to understand the underlying causes of this phenomenon and work through them with your team to help cultivate a highly engaged, productive environment.
What trends are you seeing right now in your workplace? How do you combat quiet quitting? Let us know in the comments section below!