The masses caught wind of the term ‘quiet quitting’ over the weekend and almost immediately it became part of the workplace lexicon.
The concept behind ‘quiet quitting’ is very simple, rather than leaving a job outright, employees are doing the minimum required of them and setting firm boundaries.
“If you’re reducing your effort to the bare minimum needed to complete tasks, your heart is probably no longer in the job or the company.”
On the other hand, it has been noted that setting boundaries and managing workloads can be beneficial and help employees steer clear of the perils of burnout.
Speaking to UNLEASH about the term, Tom Cornell, senior psychology consultant at HireVue, said: “‘Quiet quitting’ isn’t a new trend, it’s more a concept that’s been given a specific name and seen a boost in online interest.
“In fact, it’s challenging to even tell how widespread of an issue this trend really is, as it seems to be a discussion led by social media, rather than organizational researchers.
“However, with many employees still battling the impact COVID-19 had on their lives and also the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, it is plausible that employees are ‘quietly quitting’ to retreat from hectic workloads, in an attempt to find balance.”
Twitter illustrated just how contentious the concept was:
Work culture has reached a point where just doing your job and setting reasonable boundaries to protect your well-being is seen as a revolutionary idea.
If your employer makes you feel like you have to overwork, you’re not hustling or climbing the ladder. You’re being exploited.
— the ghost with the most (@smimons) July 30, 2022
So many self-appointed martyrs support an entire office on their backs and the boss never even notices. Imagine going over and above for years and when you change jobs, your reference letter doesn't mention half of it because it wasn't one of your official duties.
— SE posts with AITA energy (@PostsSe) July 30, 2022
Yet most people expect everyone else to go above and beyond for them.
Imagine a world where everyone was inflexible in the performance of their duties.
— Lambo (@QuanticQNT) July 30, 2022
Ivan Harding, CEO and co-founder of Applaud, gave his thoughts on what could be creating the issue. “The new trend of ‘quiet quitting’ has been created by increased home working, which is causing managers and employees to communicate in a completely different way than before the pandemic.
“With most meetings now happening over Zoom, interactions can feel more formal as both parties feel like they have less time to ‘sit down and chat’ and rush sessions in order to be as efficient as possible.
“Because of this, employees often feel that voicing that they’re feeling overloaded is a burden on their manager and that taking a step back and ‘quietly quitting’ is far easier than letting their manager know what’s really going on.”
The crux of the controversy
Beyond the personal reflections and idealism that are evident in almost all trending Twitter topics, there are two sides of the argument for employers to consider.
On one side, the lack of desire to work overtime and go above and beyond is reflective of negative working culture. On top of that, it could be indicative of declining productivity and an employee who is looking elsewhere for work.
Contrary to this, there is the argument about the transactional nature of work. Employees are paid to do a set of tasks and fulfill a job description; logically this would mean that extra work would require extra payment. Furthermore, if it impacts your wellbeing, then doing more than your job description should be off the table.
Both are compelling arguments but start with the problem rather than understanding the issues in the workplace.
What can businesses do to help employees?
Companies must ensure that employees are not burnout and as a result, should allow employees to set reasonable boundaries. For example, the majority of workers feel guilty for taking annual leave and will answer messages.
This culture is what drives extremes of workers doing the bare minimum.
To combat this, organizations must encourage workers to look after their wellbeing and set boundaries. What’s more, a business must respect these boundaries if it wants a positive working culture.
A positive working culture will likely lead to greater output and productivity, which ultimately solves the real concern around ‘quiet quitting’ which is a lack of effort in work.
Applaud’s Harding, offers his advice: “To ensure no employee feels like they have to ‘quietly quit’, catch-ups between employees and managers has to move away from any kind of formal agenda.
“You could argue that they should shift back to how they used to be pre-pandemic – most were a casual catch-up by the coffee machine – to encourage employees to open up. It was far easier for managers to step in and assist when teams were discussing workloads face-to-face.”
Despite this comment, Harding adds: “Seeing as hybrid working is here to stay, managers need to ensure they’re actively checking in on employees while they’re working at home to eliminate the risk of anyone looking to ‘quietly quit’.
“This means encouraging more transparent conversations with their teams about how they’re ‘really’ finding work.”
Harding stressed that this means two-way conversations from both managers and employees about wellbeing and workloads.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re getting a bad deal, let employees have balance and open discussions if you want the best one for your company.
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