Understanding Quiet Quitting in the Modern Workforce
The talk about quiet quitting has been increasingly rising in organizations. Are our employees putting their best foot forth in their everyday work? Why aren’t they and how can this growing issue be best tackled?
Since Covid hit, 2022 was the year where employee engagement and job opportunities surged globally. The surge brought us back to pre-pandemic levels of economic growth. While that is great news (things are seemingly finally, finally going back to normal!), the global worker stress remained at a historic high from 34% in 2011 to 44% in 2022₁.
The term quiet quitting, also known as the term silent or great resignation, is when employees consistently put in their bare minimum to keep their jobs and do not go the extra mile in their role. Some indicators are, but is not limited to:
- Not speaking up in meetings
- Not volunteering for tasks
- Refusing to do extra work
- Being regularly late
- Increasing absenteeism
- Presenting substandard work
- Bad attitude at work.
According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report, 59% of our workforce is quiet quitting. More often than not, this quiet quitting trend has been attributed to employees not feeling engaged and experiencing high stress at work.
What does this mean from the employee perspective?
A quiet quitter psychologically disconnects from their organization. Although they do remain minimally productive, they are more likely to be stressed and burnt out than engaged workers from feeling lost and disengaged.
Often, a lack of company culture, work life balance and poor management are the leading causes of employee disengagement. We’re now in the era of the hustle culture mentality which encourages the “no-off days” narrative to climb the corporate ladder. This forces employees to devote all of themselves to their work and not having their own needs at work met. This eats into their mental health which pushes them away from the goals and mission of the organization.
Gallup reports that 6 in 10₂ not feeling driven to achieve more than they could. These dissatisfied workers produce a laundry list of ripple effects such as decreased productivity, lack of enthusiasm, increased absenteeism, lack of innovation, ownership and initiative in the organization which is extremely detrimental.
What does this mean from the employer perspective?
For an employer, a disengaged employee causes an exponentially larger effect on the organization. With barely there effort, there are countless lost opportunities and untapped potential in the work produced.
Gallup’s report estimates that the cost of low engagement in organizations costs 8.8 trillion USD which accounts to 9% of the global GDP₃. On a more organizational level, unhappy employees are not your brand advocates. They may create bad press on social media platforms or through employee review or simply through word of mouth which can have adverse effects on the reputation of the company.
How is employee engagement and quiet quitting related?
Employee engagement means daily to daily workplace activities, interactions, encourages positive emotions and experiences, allows for learning and growth. It goes beyond what the job description states. How engaged one is the biggest indicator of productivity, wellbeing, and experience at the workplace.
How do we change this?
Gallup states that quiet quitters are often your greatest opportunity for growth and change. With 41%₄ of the workforce choosing to change the culture and engagement, we now know that a lot can be tangibly done that doesn't necessarily involve increasing pay and benefits. A good place to start will be looking internally.
Engaged teams in Europe are known to be significantly more productive and profitable than disengaged ones. People want to be appreciated, included, respected - dependent on good leadership and enhanced workplace experience. This starts from the stakeholders and management.
A strong movement towards employee retention, satisfaction and wellness is empowerment and enablement. Gallup states that 70%₅ of these variants depend on managers and leaders. Since the number leading cause of high stress rates at the workplace is leaders and managers, this is the best place to begin.
Below are some ways that can help:
- Recognizing teams and individuals for their contributions
- Leaders can benefit from being more approachable and understanding, to allow for more open communication between the different parties. .
- Granting more autonomy in the work to stimulate everyone’s creativity
- Giving everyone a fair chance in getting promoted
- Setting clear goals and stronger guidance from the leadership perspective
- Respecting and listening to employees’ pain points more
- Leaders setting boundaries for a better work life balance
Equipping these leaders to learn how to lead a changing workforce encourages a more productive workforce that feels valued and recognised for their work. Management should deploy more discussions and debates with their managers to ensure that employees are feeling more engaged.
So there you go! Engage your employees in non-work ways and they are the organization’s best advocates. Learn about the importance of the employee experience here.
While engagement is a good mitigator of stress and quiet quitting, it doesn’t help solve everything. Employees may still be lying flat if not attended to individually. It’s best to reach out to an underperforming employee to learn about their issues more closely. This has to be a CEO-led initiative or it won’t work₆.
Employee experience is one thing and performance is another thing. See how we think behavior technology drives performance and service excellence here.
- Gallup, Inc. (2023). State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report: The Voice of The World’s Employees, p5. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx#ite-506924
- Gallup, Inc. (2023). State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report: The Voice of The World’s Employees, p1. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx#ite-506924
- Gallup, Inc. (2023). State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report: The Voice of The World’s Employees, p4. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx#ite-506924
- Gallup, Inc. (2023). State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report: The Voice of The World’s Employees, p9. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx#ite-506924
- Clifton, J and Sinyan, PA. (2022, June 23). Europe gets life right, but work wrong. Gallup.com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/393794/europe-gets-life-right-work-wrong.aspx#:~:text=For%2010%20years%20in%20a,population%20is%20thriving%20in%20life
- Clifton, J. (2023, October 4). Office workers: Quietly changing. Gallup.com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/512006/office-workers-quietly-changing.aspx