Like everyone else, I cannot help but notice the attention that this concept is receiving on all social media platforms and in the news. The trend originated on TikTok and seems to be spreading in popularity and in acceptance. In an answer to burnout among workers, employees are being encouraged to “quit”:
- Going above and beyond
- Working after hours
- Defining identity by what we do
- Feeling stressed
- Doing more than is required
While these above items are all good concepts, the idea of “quiet quitting” concerns me.
Below are a number of reasons why this path may be detrimental to the future of the employees who are pulling back, their teammates, and the organizations where they work.
#1: Happiness is declining among American workers.
In last month’s newsletter, I shared an article from Gallup about this concept. You can find the article here. Some may equate happiness to wellbeing and mental health. “Hacking” happiness is an active response. It shows we are still in the game of life, not isolated and alone. It shows that we are not stuck.
#2: Keeping something “quiet” indicates a lack of conversation.
Anytime conversation and connection is interrupted, stories replace the data. Stories like: “My boss doesn’t care about my wellbeing” or “No one appreciates my work” or “I never get noticed when I work hard” leading to the belief that “I am not important to my company.”
Stories are dangerous. They create neurological pathways in our brain. We begin to believe these stories are REAL and attached more and more “stories” to these pathways. These stories can ultimately lead us to act in ways that are dangerous.
#3: “Quiet quitting” expects managers and supervisors to be mind readers.
Without the information that an employee is overwhelmed, a manager might conclude that an employee is at capacity, uninterested in growth, or not capable of handling other assignments. An employee who has “quit” working hard might be passed over for other opportunities. They might be seen as disconnected, uninterested or even lazy.
#4: “Quiet quitting” robs the employee of the ability to ask for help.
Asking for help is important in adulthood. An employee could ask for help with the workload, ask for time off, ask to be reassigned, ask how their job makes the company better, or even ask for a different schedule. By having the ability and confidence to ask for help, employees can feel seen and known — this can go a long way to creating connection.
#5: Employees are not realizing the REAL problem.
Burnout is real. It is rampant and it can happen to anyone regardless of their role within the organization — but it doesn’t last forever. Life is not enjoyable when you feel burnt out, but fortunately, burnout can be addressed and resolved.
What is burnout?
Burnout is when a highly engaged employee, a hard worker, and/or someone with high potential experiences mental exhaustion. It causes them to lose the ability to see how their job makes a difference to the company and to their own personal mission. Burnout ultimately leads to cynicism about life and work as well as disillusionment about the future.
Burnout = high exhaustion + high cynicism + low professional efficacy.
Engagement is the opposite of burnout.
Conversely, an employee can feel engaged when they have a lot of energy around an idea or a task or when they are involved at their workplace. Engagement can flourish by being connected with a team and/or other projects, tasks, or committees. Engaged employees also understand clearly how and why their job is important to the success of a company. They know that others are relying on their expertise, which makes them feel seen and valued.
So, how can we help end this trend of “quiet quitting”?
First, we help each employee to connect with how their job affects the team, the company, the clients, or the culture. Explain to them the big picture and thank them for being a valuable part of keeping the organization thriving.
Second, give your employees a break. Encourage time off. Give high-performers a gift card for a massage or activity they enjoy. Consider having non-meeting days. Have phone calls instead of zoom calls. Slow down the changes that you are instituting and help employees find ways that they can unplug and disconnect.
Third, stop cynicism from growing. The acid-tongued employee that always has a negative comeback is not helping — they might even be the first person you need to help get some rest or work to ensure they feel seen and heard. Be honest about the current situation within the organization and team, but also, provide vision and inspiration about the future. Help employees to know that you are in this hard place with them and that they are not alone.
Quiet quitting is a clear call for help. As leaders, let us be mindful to hold space for hurting people, to believe them when they tell us they are tired, and to encourage them that this season will pass eventually.
Embracing the humanness of your team is important and setting healthy work boundaries will go a long way to “quieting” this idea.
Not sure where to start? Contact us today, we’re here to help.