How to Combat Quiet Quitting

‘Quiet quitting’ is the new trend gracing our news feeds, social media platforms and has been the hot topic of conversation in recent weeks. Quiet quitting gained momentum on TikTok in a video posted in July and is the term used to describe when an employee does the bare minimum of what they are paid to do. There are many reasons as to why the trend of quiet quitting has taken off with some employees experiencing burnout, fatigue and others setting clearer boundaries around work/life balance. This has been blurred in recent years due to the impacts of COVID, where our homes became our new workplaces, making it hard to actually “pack up and leave work”.

What quiet quitting doesn’t refer to is actually quitting. Some signs to indicate you may have a staff member who is quietly quitting can include decreased levels of initiative and productivity, changes in attendance and a lack of engagement with peers.

So, how can you combat quiet quitting in your workplace? Here are some of my tips:

  • Communication is the key: The most effective way to combat quiet quitting is to keep communicating with your employee. If you notice a change in your employee’s behaviour, have an honest and open conversation with them to acknowledge what you’ve observed and ask if there is an issue or concern that you can work through together.
  • Follow up: After the initial conversation, your actions speak louder than words. It’s important to follow through on what you say you will do. If your employee has raised a concern, it’s important to action this or take the necessary steps to resolve their issue and show your employee that they’ve been heard.
  • Review Workload and Remuneration: Workload or an unreasonable workload can often be a complaint from quiet quitters. They are most commonly the staff members in your team that will regularly pick up work to cover staff leave or perhaps a resignation while you are appointing a replacement. You will see this staff member as the “safe pair of hands” in your team, however, longer term it can leave employees feeling overworked, exhausted or frustrated at the imbalance amongst the team. If this is the case, it’s important to review this as soon as possible and work with your employees to develop a plan to manage this moving forward. Some things to consider are, “Does their salary reflect their workload?” If you have an employee taking on more senior responsibilities, “What tasks can they delegate to other staff members?” or, “Can a temporary resource be engaged to release the pressure from the team?”.
  • Respect Boundaries: Throughout the last few years we’ve witnessed standard working hours being adjusted to meet the demands of work and life in general. With that in mind, it’s important to acknowledge the working hours of your staff and to respect their work boundaries. This can include avoiding sending emails after standard work hours which can make it difficult for employees to switch off. If you’re working outside of standard business hours, perhaps compose your emails and have them sitting in drafts until the next business day.
  • Team Connection: Changes in an employee’s behaviour can often have a greater impact to your team. These employees may feel a disconnect from others within the team so it’s important to try and re-engage these team members to help reconnect them to the team. Ways to reconnect the team can include having key days that all staff work in the office; whilst we have mastered the art of working remotely, nothing can replicate face to face contact and the incidental conversations staff can have throughout the day to feel connected and part of a team. Other ways to increase connection may be through some team building events and social activities. We have recently introduced Monday lunches into our office where one staff member each week prepares lunch for the rest of the team. By introducing this initiative we’ve witnessed so many positive outcomes including getting to know each other on a personal level (and each other’s cooking skills), the conversation and excitement around what meal is on the menu, and the increase in team connection and morale by simply sharing a meal each week.

There are many more ways to combat quiet quitting and I’d love to hear what strategies you’ve engaged in at your workplace. It’s important to remember that whilst some of these strategies can help, there is also an onus on the employee to want to work through the challenges they may be facing at work and to determine if their future is still with your business. If you’re quiet quitter does in fact quit, take the time to seek feedback through a formal exit interview process to ensure that the necessary and relevant changes can be made to retain the other top performers within your business.

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