"Quiet Quitting": What it is and 3 ways to reduce it
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"Quiet Quitting": What it is and 3 ways to reduce it

The pandemic changed the way much of America works. After two long years of remote work, a significant percentage of the employees who haven’t joined the great resignation bandwagon are disengaged and reluctant to go beyond their regular work hours and duties–a response known as “Quiet Quitting.” Exactly what is Quiet Quitting and what are 3 ways to reduce it?

Widespread, Yet Loosely Defined

This latest workplace disruption known as Quiet Quitting has been spreading virally on social media lately. The term refers to people merely meeting their job description and not going above and beyond at work. Growing weary of hustle culture, at least half of the American workforce is said to be Quiet Quitting! A rather frightening term for employers, considering these individuals are still very much on payroll, but essentially only doing the bare minimum required.

The term Quiet Quitting has a loose definition which seems to vary from employee to employee. Some common examples used to describe actions of Quiet Quitters include powering down your laptop at exactly 5 p.m., doing only the assigned tasks mentioned in your actual job description, not engaging in additional projects, and/or not taking work home. In other words, not going that extra mile. It appears to be a backlash from years of remote working and the feeling that you’re always on call, which led to feeling a general lack of respect from employers toward employees’ personal lives. Some have referred to it as refusing to have your labor stolen without proper compensation!

Employee Disengagement Continues to Increase

According to a recent Gallup article: U.S. employee engagement took another step backward during the second quarter of 2022, with the proportion of engaged workers remaining at 32% but the proportion of actively disengaged increasing to 18%. The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade.

Causes And Effects: The Quiet Quitting Movement

It is not new for workers to push back against long hours or argue to be paid more for extra work. Nor is the idea of a better work-life balance. What is different with the Quiet Quitting movement is how the younger generations including Gen Z are pushing to establish boundaries at work. It is another consequence of the work-from-home (WFH) era.

Early in the WFH era, employees proved how productive they could be, and the vast majority preferred it. However, it can create a disconnect between employees. The lack of daily in-person contact makes it easier for people to disengage, and there’s less peer pressure to compete with top performers. “In the office, you know how much work and effort your colleagues are putting in, and you feel pressure to keep up,” said Steven Haynes, an assistant professor specializing in risk management at the University of Texas at Dallas. “It’s different when you’re sitting on a computer and maybe not really interacting with anyone.”

There are significant advantages to working in an office and collaborating with teams. “There’s more knowledge spillover. A big part of the reason they’re so productive is they share so much knowledge with their colleagues,” said Yichen Su, a senior research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Quiet Quitting is a response to more than two years of being away from colleagues and the office. Employers struggle with maintaining a strong corporate culture that makes employees feel part of something larger than themselves. Proximately leads to connectivity. A strong emotional connection to your team is very difficult to replicate over Zoom.

The Flipside: Here Comes “Quiet Firing”

“Quiet Firing” is reportedly also on the rise. Quiet Firing is when employers intentionally treat you badly so that you will leave your job. Some employers avoid providing all but the bare legal minimum to their workers in the hope they will take the hint and quit. Examples of Quiet Firing can include going years without a raise or promotion, being assigned extra “busy tasks” that are beneath your position and interfere with your actual job responsibilities, and having less access and communication with your direct leader.

Three Ways To Avoid Quiet Quitting

1. Train managers to engage with their teams. 

This is especially critical in the hybrid world. Employee engagement is now more important than ever. Managers and supervisors need to be checking in with their team, not only with job-related updates but also with personal development opportunities. Leaders must show their team that they care about them and their overall mental health. Managers must be intentional in their efforts to check in with their team members.

2. Create leadership standards and hold management accountable.

LINQ, a telecommunications service provider and a client of The DiJulius Group, created a leadership guide that not only focused on the values of the organization but also defined the standards that those in leadership roles must focus on. It is no surprise that being present and encouraging connections made the list of what leadership always needs to be doing!

3. Define Above and Beyond Opportunities. 

Quiet Quitting is doing the basic tasks and not looking for areas of opportunity to go Above and Beyond. As leaders, it is important to share examples of what going Above and Beyond could look like. In my experience, it’s not that the employee doesn’t want to take on additional responsibilities, but rather isn’t sure to what lengths they are empowered to do so. They don’t know what it looks like, therefore they aren’t doing it. It is typically not due to laziness, but more a lack of awareness. Excite Credit Union did a great job defining what Above and Beyond opportunities look like in each of their Member Experience touchpoints. Excite defined the ways to go Above and Beyond in a standard welcome. This example takes an ordinary, simple transaction and brings awareness to create a more personalized greeting using FORD (Family Occupation Recreation Dreams)  from memory and giving a genuine compliment.

Being There for Your Employees Results in Better Employee And Customer Experience...and Less Quiet Quitting

For creating an emotional connection, honest conversations and active listening are powerful tools in an employer’s relationship with their direct reports. They are important elements of any workplace culture and particularly in today’s hybrid workplaces. Meaningful conversations with employees focusing on their levels of stress and job satisfaction rather than on current workloads and maximum productivity can lead to a culture of connection, greater trust, and enthusiasm. As apathetic employees become a thing of the past, your team’s ability to define a world-class customer service experience–and deliver it–will be the natural result.

John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or info@thedijuliusgroup.com.

Published: September 27th, 2022

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