High inflation, the post-pandemic economic lag and an uncertain future have had a huge impact on how we view work. Whether we think quiet quitting is just corporate noise or a real problem with long-term consequences, companies are beginning to worry. Most certainly, HR teams have their work cut out when it comes to dealing with the problem. Whatever the arguments as to whether this is a new development or not; quiet quitting is having a measurable impact. In fact, this can be seen in the popularity of the term on social media. In the findings of a recent Gallup study, it turned out that up to half of employees in the USA are choosing to quietly quit their jobs. So how should HR departments and managers deal with quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting… an overview
Given global changes and the digitization of life, we are all juggling in our minds with some existential issues these days. We are having to consider the lower purchasing power of money, and also having to ask ourselves whether we should be spending or saving; renting or owning. This is not just about consumer choices, but it’s fundamentally about why we work and earn in the first place. An iteration of this turmoil can be seen with quiet quitting, which represents an almost complete departure from the conviction that work is a core aspect of our lives. This represents a paradigm shift in our value system. More and more young people do not believe that work is a value in itself, or that it is something by which they can make a positive contribution to society. Since quiet quitting is about giving up ambitions beyond core job responsibilities, it can be an understandable response to not knowing what tomorrow will bring. That is why honest communication and the relaying of clear goals on the part of companies are so important.
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A silent opt-out…
Problems with employee engagement have always been a part of the landscape. However, HR departments can play a key role when it comes to re-engaging employees who have lost their bearings and their motivation. Quiet resignation is not about stagnation and the avoidance of duties. It is a clear-headed decision on the part of employees to do only what is expected of them, and no more. This embracing of passivity is accompanied by a shedding of professional aspirations. By the very nature of their decision, quiet quitters are not looking to prove themselves to anyone. They simply want to operate within the boundaries of their basic duties; and to avoid everything that requires more effort. Burnout can also affect our mood and our expectations, but there can be many other reasons for a withdrawal such as depression and anxiety. What is more, employees may feel that their contribution no longer counts towards the achievement of something bigger. They do not believe that they are building something, or working for and on behalf of others. This way of thinking can be particularly in evidence when team morale is low and communication lines are poor.
HR and quiet quitting… 7 approaches
1. Stress management
HR departments should have a well-thought-out strategy for helping employees to cope with stress at work. The strategy must be comprehensive, and focused on the achievement of specific goals within a specific timeframe. It also must be flexible and motivating for all team members (regardless of their position). Consider the organizing of well-being workshops or meditation classes. Customize a detailed plan to the specific needs of your employees. Remember that rest is also an indispensable part of the job.
2. It’s all about personality
The lack of a sense of agency may be caused by the bad matching of a personality type to the specificity of the work; or indeed the style of work of the team. In building a harmonious and committed team, it is important that managers have knowledge of personality types, and the methods for increasing the effectiveness of communication and teamwork. With this information, they can glean how different work styles work can be paired in order to achieve success in the organization. Trainings can provide an in-depth look at personality types. Indeed, leaders can identify their own profile as well as gain insight into the personalities and needs of colleagues.
3. A change of scene
Another solution may be to change the scope of an employee’s duties. In a situation where an employee is overloaded with too many tasks, it may not be possible for them to complete assigned projects. This creates stress and builds up tension that can lead to quiet quitting. HR can intervene here by establishing rotational programs that will allow employees to switch to another team for a while.
4. Educating managers
Another long-term activity should involve educating managers in the field of mental health. They are the ones who have direct and daily contact with the members of their team, and it is they who can spot when something is wrong. Managers need to know how to talk to members of their team about mental health and in an atmosphere of security and confidentiality. It is important when such a conversation takes place to not just mention self-development and the achievement of goals, but also to assure them that they have a support network.
5. Hop on, hop off
Changing the department and supervisor may be a response to the quiet quitting of employees due to their lack of engagement projects. Changing the department and supervisor can be effective, provided that the employee has the necessary competencies to perform the new duties. However, it should be remembered that this requires communication and a shared vision on the part of leaders and teams.
The numbers of employees who complain of deteriorating mental health has increased dramatically in recent years; and a commensurate ratio of companies are looking to provide schemes that employ professional psychological counsellors. It should be remembered that a psychologist may not only help with the issue of silent quitting, but also address other issues related to commitment and engagement. Having said that, many organizations are still failing to look at this solution.
7. Give me a break
Paid extended leave or workcation assignments could be suitable solutions for those who are choosing to opt out. This solution not only addresses the burnout issue, but it may help the employee to rediscover their passion for the job, whilst gaining a new perspective along the way. On the other hand, workcations can help employees to achieve a better balance between career and personal life.
HR… it’s over to you
HR departments have a significant role to play in assessing how quiet quitting may affect the company’s bottom line. Whilst the causes of silent quitting may be multifarious, communication must always remain the first response. Re-establishing employee engagement has to begin with HR identifying the potential sources of this problem. The measure of a company’s success in this regard will also be the harnessing of a creative work environment; one that supports the development of employees. If by reading this article, you have taken the first step towards addressing issues of quiet quitting in your workplace… then meaningful action must follow.
Aleksandra Wojtkowska – HR Business Partner & Happiness Lead – has over 5 years of experience in managing people and HR processes, and for over a year she has been responsible for Devire’s employee engagement strategy.
The co-authors of the article “7 ways for HR to deal with quiet quitting” are Paweł Gawryś, Content Marketing Manager and Karina Kwiatkowska, Content Marketing Specialist.