Digging deeper on 'quiet quitting' - What is it really about?
Engaging employees in the workplace is not a new challenge. But as the Great Resignation has shown us, the world of work and our relationship with it is now dramatically different than what it was prior to 2020.
In 2022, “quiet quitting” with its catchy alliteration became an instant viral hit. Some have argued that it is basically the setting of boundaries between work and personal life. Others say that it is about doing the bare minimum - something that employers should be very concerned about.
One thing is certain – it adds to the heaps of evidence that there are issues with the status quo. Employers need to re-examine their workplace culture and put employee wellbeing at the centre of it.
So, where can we start the conversation?
Below are some questions that we are asking ourselves about quiet quitting, and how industry experts are actively working to solve for it:
1. Is “quiet quitting” really burnout?
Arianna Huffington has been writing about the burnout epidemic since 2016 when she founded her company, Thrive. She writes that we are living through a time of profound disruption and transformation and argues that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a culture that puts wellbeing at its core, providing positive alternatives to burnout and quiet quitting.
To build this type of culture, she proposes tactics that support the employee’s life objectives outside of work, allow for compassionate directness (having open conversations about burnout), provide time off to recharge after intense periods of work, and give paid time off to volunteer. She also suggests daily pulse questions that prompt moments of health and wellbeing reflection among employees, and the provision of micro-steps to help people make changes in their daily lives related to sleep, movement, nutrition, focus and connection.
2. What can we do to actively re-energize employees?
Kathleen Hogan, CPO & EVP, HR at Microsoft, calls the current situation a Human Energy Crisis and calls for leaders to focus on regenerating employee energy in a way that ensures it is renewable and sustainable. In her article “Why Leaders Can’t Ignore the Human Energy Crisis”, she cites 6 areas to focus on:
1. Putting culture and purpose front and centre.
She stresses the importance of making a connection between the company’s purpose and the work that the employee is doing, drawing a clear line to the value they contribute.
2. Making wellbeing holistic.
Understand that providing tools to help support wellbeing is table stakes. Recognize that wellbeing isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, but rather needs to be integrated and catered to the unique needs of employees.
3. Supporting career growth in meaningful ways.
For many, career growth is no longer a set of linear steps to meet goals but rather is driven by their passions. Provide access to resources that speak to those interests and ensure that managers and leaders are on board to support.
4. Focusing on leader and manager capabilities.
She draws a distinction between leaders and managers and stresses the difference within Microsoft. Leaders generate energy, create clarity, and deliver success, while managers model, coach and care.
5. Building supportive team connections.
We all know the importance of good connections with our colleagues. Companies need to get clear on team agreements, ensure meeting inclusivity (in person and online), empower authenticity, and encourage fun.
6. Be intentional and flexible where possible.
Balance autonomy and trust with accountability, and free employees to focus on impact.
3. Where do we begin to reshape our culture? How can we get started?
In her book Reculturing, Melissa Daimler makes a strong argument for being intentional about organizational culture. “…Culture is something that is happening, so we might as well design it actively and continuously…”.
As organizations, we really don’t have a choice but to actively solve for these questions and put employees at the centre. There is no other option.
What is your organization doing to address quiet quitting?
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(Photo description: Aerial view of people sitting around a table with laptops, notebooks, pens, tablets, and coffee.)