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What is Quiet Quitting and is it a Real Trend?

   Minute Read     Employee Engagement

What is Quiet Quitting and is it a Real Trend?
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    Quiet quitting. Two words rarely uttered in the same sentence that have all of a sudden become a popular term to describe a movement within the workforce. 

    When someone first hears it without context it can be confusing, but once understood will recognise it as something they’ve experienced one way or another…but this is now on a much bigger scale. 

    So what is quiet quitting and why is it something your business needs to know about? 

    Everything you need to know is in this blog…

    What is Quiet Quitting?

    Quiet quitting emerged in the same way as most modern terminology, from a viral social media post. Back in March 2022, career coach Brian Creely posted a video to TikTok discussing an article from Business Insider. Underneath, a caption which coined (reportedly) the term ‘quiet quitting’. 

    In the video, Creely says: “Hate your job but don’t want to quit? Try being lazy instead.” 

    “We’ve seen a seismic shift in how people view work and the work arrangement. A lot of people are seeing this as an option- doing the bare amount necessary in order to maintain your position.” 

    Essentially, quiet quitting is doing the bare minimum required at work. Forget going the extra mile or even the extra inch. 

    This is seen as a bi-product of ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘The Great Exhaustion’. With many businesses struggling to keep hold of and recruit talent, the concept of employees taking a step back and meeting minimum requirements is one that is ‘better than nothing’.

    How Exactly Does Quiet Quitting Work? 

    Essentially, quiet quitting is the ‘exercise’ of putting in no more effort at work than what they are bound to do contractually. 

    Think of it as coasting along in second gear, getting to your destination slower than you could have and seldom diverting from your usual route. 

    In work terms this means no overtime, very little innovation and a culture of disenchantment throughout. 

    This can have catastrophic consequences for your organisation, with disengaged workers making 60% more errors than their peers. It’s not just about workers producing less, those in the quiet quitting mindset will be prone to lapses in concentration and making mistakes. 

               Image shows that disengaged workers make 60% more errors

     

    Is it Real or Just a Trend?

    The concept of quiet quitting has gone far beyond Creely’s 115k TikTok followers. It is now rooted in the conversation around employee engagement. But is it a real thing or like many other trends has it become a buzzword that is shoehorned into discussions? 

    A Gallup survey found that 50% of the US workforce are currently quiet quitting. Direct from the horse’s mouth, it is a very real and present issue.

    Whilst the term is new, it has been inevitable on a bigger scale in the face of other shifts in the dynamic of working life in modern times. 

    Are People Really Quiet Quitting?

    50% of the US workforce are quiet quitting to some degree, equating to 82.5 million people. Also according to Gallup, 85% of the workforce are not engaged, so the number may be significantly higher. 

    If these figures are the least bit accurate, then the time for speculating its validity should long be over and efforts of businesses and leaders should be focused on tackling the root causes.

    3 Examples of Quiet Quitting 

    Disengagement 

    One of the simpler explanations for quiet quitting is that some employees just don’t care that much about work anymore. When disengagement sets in there’s no brand affinity within the workforce or a desire to contribute to its success.

    It’s no coincidence that engaged employees are 17% more productive than those who aren’t.  

    Employees who do not have that connection with the business are far more likely to do the bare minimum required to take home their pay. It is after all easier and safer to coast in a job they don’t care about than to leave for one they will care about. 

    They may be there physically, but have disassociated mentally. Quiet quitting in its truest form. 


    Recommended Reading 📖: Disengaged Employees: How to Re-Engage Your Staff


    Burnout 

    Burnout has been a key driver of the quiet quitting phenomenon. With the influx of remote working for those who previously had never experienced it, the separation from work became even more difficult for both employer and employee. 

    CEO of Work to Live, Joe Robinson, wrote in Oak Engage’s upcoming Mental Health in the Workplace Report: “​​One of the things that remote workers tell me is that the pandemic opened up the gates for employers to contact them at all hours. 

    “They’re working at home, so they must always be available for work matters.”

    The report also found that 1 in 5 who had suffered mental or physical stress at work over the previous two years, did so because of overworking.

    Quiet quitting may be a way of employees claiming back their lives after a conflict with boundaries.

             Image shows that 19% of employees were stressed because of overworking

     

    How Can Businesses Prevent Employees Quiet Quitting?

    Implement Health & Wellbeing Programmes 

    Stress, burnout and detachment are all drivers of quiet quitting. It’s important to look after the wellbeing of your employees to develop a positive culture of engaged, positive and healthy workers. 

    Whether this is through programmes such as gym memberships or even an hour in the diary to exercise, any level of investment into health and wellbeing is worth it. To get the best out of them it is vital to ensure that wellbeing policies are well signposted so that employees are aware of what is available. 

    Oak’s content management platform houses all policies in a central area and integrates with existing information sources, so they are easy to access for all employees through desktop and mobile. 

    Regular 1:1s & Feedback

    One of the key takeaways from the exploration of quiet quitting is that every individual is different. The only way to get to the bottom of causes and prevent them before they snowball is to have open conversations with employees directly.

    “The answer of purpose will be different for every person. Managers have to speak to every employee to understand this.”

    Matt Heller, CEO of Performance Optimist *extract from Oak Engage's Mental Health in the Workplace Report 

    Collective, but targeted feedback is also key to informing practices to prevent the causes of quiet quitting. Through Oak Engage’s Pulse Surveys you can target feedback to selected audiences. Real-time data on your integrated analytics dashboard give you relevant, actionable insight. 

                        Image shows a Pulse Survey question on leadership communication

    Appreciate and Reward Employees 

    When an employee is engaged they feel a sense of purpose, that their role is of real value. Often hard work and achievements can go unnoticed, particularly in bigger organisations. 


    Recommended Reading 📖: Employee Recognition in the Workplace: A Complete


    Contrary to popular belief, reward strategies do not have to cost the earth, if anything at all. It can be as simple as a message sent to an employee, or a congratulatory message to the company intranet news feed. Not only are these practices cost effective, the latter helps to spread a culture of appreciation throughout the organisation. This will stamp out quiet quitting on a large scale. 

           Image shows employee appreciation post for 'outstanding work'

    Quiet quitting may be a relatively new phenomenon but it doesn’t seem to be a passing fad. If you weren’t aware of quiet quitting and why quiet quitting is bad, you now have the information and means to combat it in your organisation. 

    Look out for our Mental Health in the Workplace Report from January 16th for data and insights into the drivers of disengagement and quiet quitting. 

    Have you incurred quiet quitting? Do you think it’s just a buzzword? Join the discussion on our social media channels. 

    Stephen

    Stephen is a Content Marketing Specialist at Oak Engage. A Public Relations MA with a background in tech recruitment, he has a passion for producing engaging content for technical and non-technical audiences.