Business owners, let’s get to the bottom of quiet quitting in the workplace

October 20, 2022
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Quiet quitting has become viral on social media, but what is it really about?

Quiet quitting is the phenomenon where employees accomplish tasks that are strictly in their job description, within their work hours while avoiding (or “quitting”) going above and beyond at work. 

This certainly isn’t a new issue, but “quiet quitting” seems to be a very specific kind of employee disengagement and is now easily one of the biggest concerns HR departments and business owners face. Quiet quitting can be a costly problem, especially in an era where the work-from-home model has become ubiquitous.

According to Gallup, quiet quitters make up 50% of the U.S. workforce, and the proportion of actively disengaged employees has increased to 18% in the second quarter of 2022. 

The drop in engagement started in the second half of 2021, the same year that the Great Resignation occurred. The Great Resignation is a movement that began in the United States due to poor working conditions which drove employees to look for work opportunities that gave them better work-life balance.

Similarly, quiet quitting likely is a symptom of poor management within an organisation. The drop in employee engagement and job satisfaction is due to a lack of clarity in expectations and opportunities to learn and grow while not feeling cared about by the organisation. 

It’s important to address quiet quitting within an organisation to create a healthy and productive workplace, improving employees’ quality of work and ability to meet customer needs. Understanding the root causes of quiet quitting can help HR leaders and business owners develop effective preventive measures against this phenomenon while helping their employees grow and feel supported.

What is quiet quitting?

The term “quiet quitting” took off when content creator Zaiad Khan posted a TikTok video about it on July 2022, explaining that it’s a rejection of the hustle mentality and a reclaiming of work-life balance. Some workplace experts think that “quiet quitting” is actually a misnomer as it’s not really about “quitting” anything, rather it’s about carving more personal time and taking care of yourself. 

From an employer’s perspective, quiet quitting can be considered disengagement, when employees are mentally and emotionally detached from their jobs. From another lens, quiet quitting has significant similarities with work-to-rule, an industrial action wherein employees do the bare minimum in their job contracts, which can lower overall productivity as time passes.

Regardless of what it means, the fact that “quiet quitting” resonates with so many people indicates that there are issues within the workplace that need to be resolved. It highlights poor working conditions where employees are undervalued or exploited. It can also be a reflection of a “quiet firing” environment which refers to employers treating employees in a way that pushes employees to quit so that employers don’t have to lay them off. 

While quiet firing is the complete opposite of quiet quitting, the former being perpetuated by employers and the latter by employees, it’s possible that a quiet firing environment can lead to a quiet quitting one. 

When employees receive ample support from their managers as well as growth opportunities and rewards for their excellent work, they’re more likely to become highly motivated and perform at an excellent standard. 

5 ways to prevent quiet quitting in your organisation

Understanding quiet quitting as a phenomenon can be a great opportunity for your organisation to improve your workplace and ensure that your staff are highly engaged and satisfied with their work. 

We’ve shortlisted five tips you can use to build a healthy, happy workplace where your staff are motivated.

1. Set clear company and individual goals

Setting clear business goals and linking them to your employees’ individual goals will give your organisation a clear path towards growth while providing employees with a sense of purpose within the company. When your employees understand how accomplishing their goals contribute to the company’s success, they’re more likely to feel valued and important within the organisation.

Involving employees from start to finish with the goal-setting process can help you achieve staff buy-in, which is an employee’s personal and professional commitment to actively engaging with tasks, processes or changes. Doing the goal-setting process with your employees will also help both of you to create SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, results-oriented and time-bound) short-term and long-term goals. It allows you and your employees to track the progress of your goals, and make changes to them when necessary.

2. Nurture a strong company culture

Company culture gives your organisation a strong identity with a clear set of values. Nurturing a strong company culture can help you attract and retain top talent that resonates with your company values. 

Sometimes your desired company culture and your actual company culture are misaligned, which can lead to discord and friction within the organisation and potentially cause employee disengagement and dissatisfaction. It’s important to implement a dynamic culture-building strategy, where different members of the organisation have corresponding roles in developing and maintaining the desired culture. 

You can build a dynamic company culture by distributing and assigning the corresponding responsibilities to members within your company:

  • CEO and senior management - They identify the desired company culture and build the organisation and its processes in the advancement of the company’s purpose and values.
  • HR department - They develop employee experiences that enhance and reinforce the company culture while assigning tasks to various company members to fulfil their respective roles in maintaining the culture.
  • Middle managers - They deliver employee experiences and implement culture-building strategies while encouraging employee engagement with culture-building activities.
  • Employees - They provide valuable input and feedback to senior management about how the current strategies and activities influence the actual company culture and whether they align or differ with the desired company culture.

3. Ensure that your employees are fairly and promptly compensated 

One of the key reasons quiet quitting is becoming a big issue is because people feel that overperformance isn’t fairly compensated. Ensuring that your employees are paid fairly and on time at all times is crucial when giving them job stability and security. This can be an issue for start-ups or small businesses that primarily have remote teams. 

For example, employers frequently ask us about payroll processes in the Philippines when it comes to properly compensating their remote employees, particularly since Filipinos are covered by different social security schemes that must be covered by employers.  

Beyond that, it’s also important to reward and recognise high-performing employees to keep them motivated and engaged. This can range from financial incentives to gifts, such as performance bonuses, massage vouchers or movie tickets.

4. Provide employee benefits that align with their needs and labour laws

Contrary to popular belief, free coffee and pastries or a cool office with bean bags are not going to make the cut as “benefits” — not even for younger employees in the Millennial and Gen Z brackets. 

Providing benefits that align with your employees’ personal and professional needs while ensuring that you are compliant with local labour laws, can ensure that your staff is invested in your organisation and its success.

Complying with labour laws, particularly when your team works remotely and is based in different locations around the world, can be challenging if you’re doing it all by yourself. 

In fact, we’ve created a comprehensive guide for employers hiring Filipinos remotely so that they understand the complexities of local labour law and the requirements to be compliant. If employers are handling the hiring process by themselves, key areas that they need to focus on include:

  • Employment contracts
  • Compensation
  • Working hours
  • Public holidays
  • Vacation and sick leaves
  • Maternity and parental leaves
  • Health insurance
  • Termination and severance

Ensuring that you are compliant with local labour laws can be challenging if you do it alone, which is why we recommend business owners to partner with a credible Employer of Record so that you can hand off the heavy lifting of HR administrative tasks to experts and focus on developing your business.

5. Encourage a healthy work-life balance 

At its heart, quiet quitting is about making sure that an employee has a life outside of work. Encouraging your staff to have a healthy work-life balance from the get-go can ensure that you have a healthy and positive workplace, which can actually facilitate better performance in the long run. 

You can maintain a healthy work-life balance in the workplace by:

  • Making time for leisure activities - Finding hobbies that you enjoy outside of work can help you relax and unwind while ensuring that you set good boundaries between your personal and professional life.
  • Prioritising and delegating tasks - Prioritising tasks from most to least important can help you create a realistic daily to-do list, and delegating tasks can give employees the opportunity to learn new things while evenly distributing the workload.
  • Identifying and plugging energy drains - Energy drains can include messy rooms, difficult clients or even long emails. Identifying your energy drains and finding ways to minimise them will allow you to reserve your energy for more important tasks.

Quiet quitting isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s an increasingly relevant issue now as more people become aware of the poor conditions in the workplace. Having a strong management and leadership team in your business as well as the proper infrastructure to support your employees can help you build a positive and productive workplace, where your entire team feels empowered and nurtured. The best way to fight employee disengagement is by giving them different opportunities and avenues to grow and develop.

Are you ready to inspire and motivate your team to be their best, professional selves in the workplace? Contact us and we’ll guide you through the hiring and team-building process.

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