Opinion: Quiet Quitting & how to deal with it 

quiet quitting

Tanima Dhawan, HR Director at Zoo Media shares the impact of quiet quitting on a company’s work culture and how the management can deal with it in a constructive manner.

The trend towards quiet quitting has captured the imagination of a lot of working people off-late. It means, employees are “checking-out” from work and don’t necessarily see work as the only central focal point of their life. Instead, they look at the job and the monetary benefits attached to it as a means to make ends meet and not the primary purpose of life that requires that “extra” investment of time. Quiet quitters believe in doing no more than their job demands and setting clear work-life boundaries.

Quiet quitting as a phenomenon started seeing more traction in the latter half of 2020. A true illustration of pandemic-induced effects, the WFH or remote working culture is a great contributor to this new trend. Almost two years of work from home or hybrid working has changed the work culture fundamentally, for good or for worse. This followed by the phase of the Great Resignation just allowed people to re-evaluate their lives and workplace options, reimagine alternative ways of doing work and rethink what they wanted from life!

The pandemic also led to the emergence of a new will of the world – WFH, something that was totally unimaginable pre-pandemic. This accelerated remote working culture and these new working systems have definitely fuelled the rise of quiet quitting culture in more ways than one. Even though convenient and cost-effective in many ways, WFH often results in blurred boundaries between ‘work from home’ and ‘work for home’ and therefore the risk of employee burnout. When people work in disassociated work spaces confined to the walls of their homes, relying on self-motivation, self-discipline and concentration, it becomes really difficult to live & breathe such a life, day in and out.

The office environment offers lots of informal and casual collaboration opportunities that are hard to replicate at home. Only when employees enthusiastically involve themselves in their work and workplace, organizations are able to manage/build on important perspectives of workplace culture. More importantly, this enables organizations to know their employees as individuals – their current life situation, personal ambitions and goals, the strengths they aspire to acquire and the weaknesses they wish to overcome.

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Since there is a huge demand for hybrid working and the WFH culture will only grow, companies need to find innovative ways of interacting with their employees, engaging and motivating them differently and most importantly, communicating with them more effectively in more intentional ways. As per Deloitte’s Global Gen Z and Millennial Survey 2022, millennials and Gen Z are not only reassessing the way they work but are also willing to turn down jobs and assignments which don’t align with their values. For them, the purpose is critical and they value those organizations that invest in employee welfare and mental wellness. 

Employees who feel “not engaged” at work have either not seen any personal development in the last few months or are psychologically detached from the work they do. Attributed to poor management where managers don’t know how their employees are feeling, employees feel disengaged and burnt out. For the millennials and Gen Z, a good work-life balance and learning and development opportunities are a top priority. 

Dissatisfied employees and a disengaged workforce affect organizational productivity levels severely. Such employees not only have a detrimental impact on the overall output of the organization but also pull down the morale of other employees. This in turn fuels a toxic work culture that could potentially aggravate employee dissatisfaction and thus, managers are essential to combatting quiet quitting.

A first corrective step requires managers to support their employees. Whether it involves managing the burnout risk or dealing with disengagement issues, managers need to sit at the helm of every conversation. This also requires managers to reskill & upskill themselves and be fully equipped to deal with hybrid working environments. Managers must invest in their team members and have meaningful conversations with them at regular intervals. They should look into their workload, and their career paths and help set some boundaries. This makes them feel someone cares about them, is excited about their development and that they have opportunities to learn and grow. 

Secondly, managers must encourage a culture in which employees are engaged and can see how their work contributes to the organization’s larger vision or purpose. This involves creating accountability both at an individual and as well as team level. An inclusive work environment that fuels continuous learning is always a plus one.

Thirdly, it is imperative that organizations listen to their employees across all levels and implement their feedback. GenZs and millennials are not afraid to speak up and ask for change. They appreciate those organizations that seek input from employees and then implement the feedback.

The fourth and most important point, managers should build trusting relationships with their employees. This results in the creation of a safer and positive work environment that thrives on inclusivity and trust and motivates employees to continue to do their best.

Quiet quitting as a term might outlive its trend very soon but it stems from real problems that employees face every day. Organizations need to rethink their approach to work culture – accept that there’s a problem and proactively find ways to abandon it altogether. If as a manager you are 100% confident about your leadership abilities, sit back and reevaluate your approach to getting results from the team. Make sure your team members feel valued and appreciated and encourage regular open and honest dialogues to set the expectations each party has of the other. This not only will help increase overall productivity but also establish a sense of trust in the organization.

On the other hand, the participation of employees in correcting this is equally important and supremely pivotal. It is easy to place the blame on the organization or managers for disengaged work environments. But if employees don’t take conscious, discretionary steps to engage themselves and create a profound impact, they stand the chance to lose out on many things that can make a workplace enriching, engaging and fun in the first place. While there might be a handful of people who would have adopted quiet quitting as a result of biased or inappropriate behaviour from their managers, many on the other hand are also grateful to have had those golden opportunities to work with leaders who inspired them to take those extra steps in the early stages of their professional journeys. 

The article is authored by Tanima Dhawan, HR Director, Zoo Media

The opinions shared in the article are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publication.