Should Employers Worry About Quiet Quitting?
For years, the employee engagement conversation has focused on how hungry employees are. They want learning, development, growth, purpose, meaning, fulfillment…the list goes on and on.
But now? Well, employees are tired. And, after a shaky past few years, understandably so.
That’s given rise to the latest trend or buzzword in the employment space: quiet quitting.
As the Harvard Business Review defines it, quiet quitting is when an employee opts out of tasks that go beyond their assigned duties. They might even become less psychologically attached to their work.
Some experts claim that we’re seeing more and more of this phenomenon, with Gallup reporting that these “quiet quitters” make up at least half of the workforce.
Half of your employees turning down responsibilities? Feeling less emotionally invested in their roles? Simply meeting expectations without blowing them out of the water? It’s enough to cue a horror soundtrack in any manager or employer’s mind.
There’s no doubt that it feels like a problem that needs to be readily solved. As if leaders should scramble to find any strategy, perk, or platform that promises to reignite passion, enthusiasm, and commitment in their employees.
But, what if instead you flipped the script: Is quiet quitting really all that dire in the first place?
Revisit the definition and you’ll see quiet quitting for what it really is: Employees showing up to work, fulfilling their assigned responsibilities, and setting healthy boundaries between their jobs and the rest of their lives.
Sure, that feels like a pretty stark departure from the hustle culture we’ve all become accustomed to—the one that tells us we should relentlessly pursue career advancement, even when it comes with great personal sacrifice.
And yet, it’s that exact pervasive “hustle, hustle, hustle” philosophy that has fueled employee resentment, disengagement, and even burnout in the first place—perhaps it took a global pandemic for employees to redefine or reorder their priorities to promote healthier lives.
At its core, quiet quitting is not an employee engagement problem. It’s a rebalancing of the scales. An unspoken rebuttal to the “rise and grind” ethos that has invaded our working world. A return to a more normal equilibrium between our careers and the rest of our lives.
Even still, the concept of quiet quitting is what will send some leaders clambering for any half-baked tactic that promises to kindle more passion and commitment. They will frantically hash out personalized growth plans or call employees back to the office in an (oftentimes misguided) attempt to reinforce connections.
But the most supportive and resilient leaders? They will look at quiet quitting not as a threat, but an opportunity. It is a chance to revisit and reevaluate the organizational chart, the composition, responsibilities and expectations of their teams, and the culture of their organizations.
After all, at the end of the day, what do companies and employees really stand to gain from continuing to bleed their daily clocks dry?