Maybe you can think of an employee who still shows up to work every day and puts in the hours, but they’re no longer fully engaged in their job. They’re going through the motions, but no longer striving to be their best. These are some signs that your employee may have already ‘quietly quit’.
What is quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting is a term for pulling back from overachieving at work in order to preserve one’s mental health or try to regain some work-life balance instead of actually resigning.
This concept has been around for some time, but recently sparked a lot of controversies when a TikTok video from user @zaidlepplin, an American engineer, went viral. In the video, they emphasize that “your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.”
The video received thousands of comments from people describing the frustrating work experiences that led them to share this mentality and only do the bare minimum at work.
Why are people quiet quitting?
In the past few years, workplace dynamics have undergone some core changes. Living and working through a pandemic required many people to either change careers or adjust to working from home. In 2021, an economic trend called the Great Resignation surfaced, and millions of Americans quit their jobs in search of better pay, work-life balance, or opportunities for career advancement.
Quiet quitting shares a lot of these same motivations, but often applies to those who aren’t in a position to quit their jobs suddenly.
What can managers do to prevent quiet quitting?
If you’re concerned about the quiet quitting trend taking hold in your workplace, take a look at these seven simple strategies HR and managers can take to prevent burnout.
Don’t assume people “just don’t want to work”
There’s a narrative floating around among some in the older generation that young people are simply too lazy to put in hard work, but it’s more likely that generational differences cause older bosses to inaccurately read young people’s motivations.
In fact, the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey indicates that job loyalty is on the rise among the youngest generations in the workforce, and those who are leaving their jobs are primarily doing so because they weren’t satisfied with the pay. Additionally, many have taken on a second job in order to make ends meet.
Rather than assuming people don’t want to work anymore, bosses should try to understand and empathize with the financial stress young people are experiencing, and do their part to earn employee loyalty through fair pay and a more appealing work environment.
Open a dialogue
One reason employees might start to withdraw at work is that they don’t think their managers care. Taking the time to engage with individuals in your workplace is an easy way to uncover the cause of burnout and dissatisfaction.
First, sit down with your staff and ask if there’s any way you can provide them with additional support. Listen actively to their concerns and ideas, and consider how you can make a few adjustments based on their feedback.
Even if they don’t have any specific requests, your staff will leave the meeting with a sense that you’re open to feedback and want them to have a positive workplace environment.
Reexamine how you track productivity
If you find yourself checking in with employees every time you notice them go offline, it may be time to consider better methods for tracking productivity.
Especially in a hybrid workplace, tracking hours and activity is often less important than output. Take some time to set clear goals with your employees and emphasize that you trust them to get the work done even if their process looks a little different from yours.
Then, stick to your word — track progress based on milestones you’ve set, and keep regular check-ins friendly and casual. This provides them the opportunity to raise concerns without feeling like they’re under a microscope.
Lead with empathy
Empathy is considered one of the most important soft skills in leadership, and crucial to preventing burnout in the workplace. Studies show job performance is positively correlated with empathetic leadership. But what does that actually look like?
While some people are naturally more empathetic than others, empathy — like all soft skills — can be learned. Practice active listening with the intention of understanding what motivates your staff. Then, if problems arise, you’ll have a better grasp on where they’re coming from.
If you don’t know where to start with building a connection to your employees, try getting to know them as people and understanding their interests and values. Also, be willing to open up about your personal life. Managers and their direct reports can build trust more easily when they see one another as people outside of a working relationship.
Be intentional about rewarding good work
One of the biggest causes of burnout is an employee feeling like their hard work is undervalued. Reward those who go above and beyond with acknowledgement and raises, and don’t assume that they’ll stick around without a pay raise for an extended period of time.
If you occasionally ask them to put in extra hours or take on work that’s not in their job description, be willing to reward them appropriately. Demonstrating that you value their time will make employees feel more loyal to you and less likely to burn out.
Support employee wellness
Especially in competitive work cultures, prioritizing wellness can seem like a weakness unless leadership sets a precedent of work-life balance and encourages healthy behaviors among staff.
If you haven’t updated your employee benefits since before the pandemic, it may be time to make some changes. Consider offering the following to show employees you value their mental and physical wellbeing:
- Enhanced family leave
- Mental health initiatives
- Fitness stipend or active team-building
You can also encourage healthy habits in small yet impactful ways, such as only messaging staff outside of office hours when absolutely necessary and reminding them to take short, active breaks throughout the workday.
Be willing to accommodate struggling employees’ needs (within reason)
An employee struggling with depression or insomnia may be able to show up better for work if they have a flexible remote-work schedule or can negotiate different work hours.
First, give employees the chance to improve after a few minor adjustments. If they are able to meet deadlines and produce high quality work on a more flexible schedule, then you’ve successfully maintained a great employee and instilled mutual respect and trust in the process.