A Different Take on “Quiet Quitting”

There’s a fairly recent phenomenon that’s gone viral on social media platforms like TikTok and LinkedIn: a concept coined as “Quiet Quitting.” It’s a rather disturbing-sounding idea, and one that business owners need to be aware of; both for the health of their organization and the wellbeing of their workforce.

According to a timely NPR article, this trend began with a simple video upload on TikTok and has since spread like wildfire. The article states the definition of “quiet quitting” plainly:

“Quiet quitting, in other words, is not really about quitting. It’s more like a philosophy for doing the bare minimum at your job.”

Pandemic sparked “quiet quitting?”

Some influencers in the entrepreneur space will make the claim that “quiet quitting” was born out of the pandemic, where professionals re-evaluated their careers more closely and rebelled against toxic old business paradigms. These might include poor work/life balance, micro-managing, and an expectation of non-stop “hustle-culture.”

It’s inevitable that no matter the issue or cause, when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will overcompensate by swinging too far in the opposite direction. This is true for almost any issue in life or business, including how your employees feel about the way they are treated.

And, it should go without saying that all employees, no matter their roles or responsibilities, deserve to feel safe, valued, and seen. To give them anything less reflects poorly on their employer. Since we also live in the world of accountability via social media (like GlassDoor.com, Indeed.com among others) harboring broken systems that don’t foster worker respect or dignity will not bode well for any entrepreneur turning a blind eye to them.

Those points being made…

I think there’s a middle-ground way to process this, which demands full engagement with both the employer and employee. It isn’t an exercise of futile resolution (as presented in posts elsewhere) but a way of looking at what has become a troubling reality from both points of view.

Ways to combat a worrisome reality

There are ways, both resolution-oriented and as a prevention practice, that can help put an end to “quiet quitting.”

  • Create a culture people want to be part of. Make sure your Human Resources department has employee wellbeing and engagement at the top of their priorities, along with benefits and health plans. As the business owner, you will need to be visible and involved. Develop programs, activities and policies that honor your team members as human beings with lives outside of work.

  • Throw micro-managing on the ash heap. In order to find and retain the best talent, this “babysitting” style of management will have to go. Nothing undermines trust in professionals more than being treated like they require constant monitoring. Set expectations, and let people do their jobs with respectful and modern accountability methods.

  • Use employee surveys to gauge satisfaction. Let employees express in their own words how they feel about their roles or the company at large. Is there anything that can be improved? Get ready for honest answers. These responses will help you grow and avoid disgruntled workers.

  • Let people truly unplug. There’s really no such thing as a “working vacation.” If you want your best people to recharge their proverbial batteries, you need to let them leave the laptop at home. Set boundaries for communications (like no after 6pm Slack messages, weekend emails, etc.)

  • Give the best, and expect the best. If you’ve done your part as an employer to try and create a wonderful place to work, and there are some team members who are still not bringing their “A” game, it might be time to let them go. The roles they’re in might not be a good fit, and they need to move on to an opportunity better suited for them.

It’s the responsibility for business owners and team members alike to end the kinds of environments and practices that bring about trends like “quiet quitting” and bare minimum job performance. Show people you’ve got skin in their game, and the ones worth their salt will not let you down.

Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville, TN.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your personal circumstances and/or your business.

Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay