Depending on whom you ask, quiet quitting is either positive or something to be feared. From the perspective of a business leader, it may at first appear to be a threat to retention rates. It may even appear that people simply don’t want to work anymore. But let’s take a closer look at what it is and what can be done about it.
First of all, are they quiet quitting or are you quiet firing?
People have their limits. They also have options. If your organisation isn’t periodically offering pay raises, evaluating benefits, providing feedback and direction or otherwise actively seeking to nurture your employees, employees may feel justified in cutting back on their efforts.
Consider this post from one Zapier employee who puts the focus of “quiet quitting” back on the managers. Workplace happiness and well-being are important for retention and require continual evaluation.
It pays to remember the impact of mobile access.
Some things have changed over the past thirty years that have affected people’s relationship with work. The most prominent change is the rise of the smartphone. Prior to mobile information technology, the idea of workplace happiness didn’t really exist.
While smartphones aren’t solely to blame, they played a big part in blurring the boundaries between work and life. Work started following people around. Work could reach them at home, in the evenings, on weekends, on holidays. Phones gradually became more and more sophisticated, pinging and vibrating for every activity taking place on apps for chatting, project management and virtual meetings.
Remember the stress and emotional toll these constant interactions cause and think about the implications of the never-ending workday.
Set boundaries and teach your employees to do the same.
Proponents of quiet quitting will tell you that it’s not about slowly backing out of the job. It’s about setting proper boundaries. People want to work. They want to do a good job. What they don’t want is to be talked to by their employer after five or six o’clock or whenever their workday ends.
As a leader, you can help by limiting communication via email, text and work-related apps, even fun communication, to work hours. Let your employees know that it is your intention to keep work to work hours and that they are free to turn off their apps on the weekends or whichever days off are agreed upon.
Be clear about expectations and consider switching to goal-based rather than time-based metrics.
As mentioned, people want to do a good job. They can’t do a good job if they don’t know what success looks like. It’s good to have regular evaluation times so you can offer your employees feedback on their results, direction for the future and resources for growth. You may also consider changing the way you measure success.
One way to respond to increasing remote work and the quiet quitting phenomenon is to use employee monitoring software. Many organisations have policies that allows for the monitoring of websites visited. Yet, how many actually look at the reports? Maybe it doesn’t sit well with you or your culture, you may consider defining success by results rather than by hours logged. This is a difficult mindset to adopt in a world that usually includes attendance and hours as strong factors in measuring an employee’s output, but the post-pandemic world of work has forced us to reconsider a lot of how we do things. A fundamental change is required.
Most of all, remember we are all on the same side.
In the big scheme of things, work is only a small factor in what makes a human a human. In HR, we get to recognise that and help people thrive at work by adapting to their changing needs. Quiet quitting is not the enemy. It’s the response to some things that have gone wrong with the work-life balance. You have the opportunity to listen to this movement and guide your company to a healthier, happier workplace.
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