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Quiet Quitting: How Employers Can Combat This Phenomenon

Asian Female Barista Not Happy with her job, sitting with her head resting on her hand/arm

What is quiet quitting?

According to James Detert, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, quiet quitting is “an often-misunderstood phrase that can mean either doing your job’s bare minimum or just not striving to overachieve” (The Conversation 2022). It stems from the notion that workers are unable to speak up about their dissatisfaction with their workplace, so they choose to silently struggle instead. Picture a less exaggerated version of Peter Gibbons from the office space, workers aren’t disengaging from their core tasks but they are in the process of job-searching and are no longer striving to exceed expectations.

How employers, HR departments, and leaders can utilize HR best practices to diminish its effects

For companies to try and deter quiet quitting, they have to catch employee warning signs as early as possible. A manager may notice that their typically productive “employees may turn down new projects, stop volunteering for tasks, only take on easy assignments, or claim to be too busy to help coworkers or managers” (Team Building 2022).

Increases in workload should be kept short-term. The business world is chaotic, and there are times when working overtime is necessary, but employees need time to recharge and reconnect with loved ones. Many of those guilty of quiet quitting, are employees who have sacrificed time away from home for the needs of their workplace. However, continually asking these aforementioned employees to work past their breaking point is unsustainable and will inevitably lead to burnout. Therefore businesses have to step up and make adjustments in their operating agreements with employees, or match compensation with the increased workload.

One of the most important interventions that leaders can do is listen to their employees. When workers feel supported by their organization, workplace fatigue is less likely to result. HR analytical tools “can offer granular visibility into factors driving employee well-being and performance” and HR departments can also encourage the implementation of proactive stay-interviews to garner qualitative and quantitative data from their employees on how to retain them at peak productivity. Employers must also provide a safe space that allows workers to speak up without fear or retaliation. This will knock out two birds with one stone by bolstering employee wellness and output.

Finally, investing in your workforce is vital to keep compensation competitive with the cost of living and market rates. Your workers are going to feel devalued if the rewards for their effort are not appropriate. Perks, benefits packages, flexibility, and forms of recognition are all ways that employers can alleviate the symptoms of “quiet quitting” and reinvigorate their organization. Identifying, listening, and investing in your company will reverse the damages of this challenge.

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Written by Andrew Martinez for Consult HR Partners | Image by Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels