Opinion #HR
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21 December 2022

How do managers address quiet quitting?

A recognised phenomenon of 2022, quiet quitting is the act of going through the motions at work, doing the bare minimum only. Although this trend is not new it is on the rise and becoming more widespread – so how can you, as a manager, deal with employees who have mentally checked out?

Employees who simply do what they’re paid to do won’t take on any extra duties, answer emails outside of work hours, or partake in any fun extracurricular activities at work. They distance themselves from the business and mentally disconnect from their job, missing out on the enriching side of work that comes from contributing to wider projects as well as being part of socials, birthday celebrations and sharing treats on special occasions.

This is not only bad for the individual quiet quitters but is damaging to the company culture and long-term success of the business.

What does quiet quitting mean for business?

A June 2022 Gallup survey found that quiet quitters make up at least half of the US workforce, aged 18 and over. This means that more than 50% of employees across America have mentally left the office and are not invested in their role beyond the strictest definition of their job description.

When more than one team member is partaking in the silent rebellion of quiet quitting, it’s a strong sign that something is wrong with the business. Often, it’s a signal to management that the company culture is not good and employees don’t like working for the firm.

How can managers combat employee disengagement?

Managers are the key to combatting quiet quitting. Ultimately, if managers are engaged then employees will be engaged, which is why employee engagement relies on good leadership and whether leaders can performance manage and get the best from their team. It needs to come from the top and CEOs must have a robust leadership training program in place to enable managers to support the culture and employee expectations.

Employees crave purpose and if they aren’t given one, they will quickly switch off from their work and simply coast through their days, doing the bare minimum that their job demands. They will show up for work and do what they are paid to do but no more – they won’t be mentally present or engaged.

Make it personal

Listening is vital if employees are to be re-engaged – really listening to what they’re saying and not just what you want to hear, is crucial. Create an action plan for the individual and make that person part of this process and keen to tackle the plan. If the individual is still not interested, it is likely best that they move on to a different role – and you can carefully recruit the right replacement for the role.

Hire right

To keep your team engaged and dodge quiet quitting plaguing your employees, get the recruitment process right. Ensure potential candidates know the job they’re taking on and how they fit into the business and have measures in place that make sure they’ll be supported. This includes comprehensive training as well as strong integration into the company, all the while managing their expectations and providing regular feedback.

Employees like to know where they stand and what’s expected of them so it’s important managers handle this from the start.

Create an open and honest culture

By creating a supportive and open environment for employees, you create a healthy culture – and a good culture means happy staff who want to work hard and be part of the team. Provide clarity on individual roles and how they matter, exactly how they contribute to the bigger goals, together with the reassurance that there are plans in place to support them long-term.

According to Forbes, 52% of workers experience burnout. Be prepared and be honest with staff, letting them know they can say if they’re struggling or have any mental health issues, and help will be provided. Keep communicating with staff so you can spot any issues early on too and provide the necessary extra support.

Without a healthy culture, good staff will experience an issue and rather than reaching out for additional support, will just leave.

As employees need to work together, to join forces on certain projects and long-term business goals, to enable company growth and to meet customer needs, this can’t be achieved if quiet quitting is rife in the team. By ensuring employees feel respected and valued at work, managers play a big part in both the prevention of quiet quitting and the successful re-engagement of any team members who have mentally checked out.

What’s positive is that strong managers can motivate and engage employees, creating a team that collaborates to achieve company goals – and ensuring staff do want to contribute beyond the bare bones of their job description.

Jenna Bayuk is the founder of Kinship Kollective.