Refer & Earn

Quiet Quitting

Quiet Quitting

Vivek Jayaraman
6th Oct, 2022

One of the recent buzzwords that triggered so many online discussions and controversies. Is it a new concept or an old one? Why is it gaining so much popularity, and people are bashing it? Let us look at this buzzword in detail and my take on fixing it. 


What is quiet quitting?

There are so many different types of people that we meet. Let us take an example of our school days. One set of kids will be keen on pushing themselves in academics and sports and also focus on co-curricular activities after school or from school. Another group of kids will focus more on studies or sports as they cannot focus on more than one. They will be good in academics or sports activities. There is one other group of kids who will do the bare minimum. They will study to get passing marks so they don't fail, and they won't have a further interest in school-related stuff. Even though they know they can get good marks provided their focus improves on education, they still do just the bare minimum. These kids are quiet quitters. 

 

When it comes to the workplace, some people strive hard, go the extra mile, share knowledge, keep educating themselves, learn certification courses and grow in their careers. Other groups want to do the assigned job, satisfy the bare minimum of their role responsibilities, and leave for the day. They are the quiet quitters. 

 

Quiet quitting means being unwilling to go the extra mile in the work while choosing to do the bare minimum. 

 
History of Quiet Quitting

The phrase "quiet quitting" was coined at the Texas A&M Economics symposium in 2009 by the economist Mark Boldger. While the term was coined in 2009, the actual quiet quitting was carried on the way before in work. It is not a new thing or a movement. It was there in history, and we can see them mainly in organizations with no proper employee engagement. People will stop pushing themselves at work when 

  • Work is under-appreciated
  • Constant lack of motivation
  • Poor workplace environments
  • Less psychological safety
  • Too much politics, and 
  • Much lesser engagement 
 

There could be a wider variety of reasons why one will stop pushing themselves beyond what they think they are capable of. 


Is quiet quitting bad?

If we are about to talk about good or bad, we should speak to whom it is good or bad. From an organization's perspective, having employees who don't want additional responsibilities is not great. But when it comes to the employee side, it could be good for them because they are doing it for themselves and depending on various reasons. 

 

I know a person named Bob who was 56 years when I was working as an Automation Test Lead. He was a Senior Software Engineer at that time. Bob was an expert programmer, and you may wonder why he wasn't a Staff Engineer, Development Manager, or at least a Development Lead. Bob was happy at the role and told me he wanted to continue until he retires. Bob performs the duties of a Senior Software Engineer efficiently, which is all he wants to do at work. He never worried about becoming a lead but learned to do his role effectively. Bob never wanted positions that needed additional responsibility. He did everything as a Senior Software Engineer but never more. He is a quiet quitter in a sense. 

 

While Bob did it for himself, I know of a lady named Jeniffer, another highly engaged person who always went the extra mile and proved herself every time. She always shadows the next higher role in the hierarchy and prepares herself for the next challenge that helps her grow. She got trapped in a team with a person with poor managerial skills. He pushed her to do more while she was already doing more out of curiosity and interest. She got tired of contributing to a political environment with no growth, motivation, or rewards. She slowly moved herself to quiet quitting as the work was not rewarding anymore. 

 

Bob was technically strong and highly motivated, but he didn't want to hustle in work and wanted to be happy with his current position. Jeniffer was pushed to quit quitting by an incompetent supervisor and a poor work environment that isn't challenging her anymore. Quiet quitting is just a state of being. It can be changed depending on what a person is looking for in terms of work. Employee Engagement is the key. 

 
What is Employee Engagement?

Employee Engagement is not a buzzword, but still, many people do not have a clear understanding of this term. We were looking for an HR executive a month back, and I had to interview a few people for that opening. The people I interviewed were already senior executives with 3 to 5 years of experience. Whenever I asked some questions regarding employee engagements, their answers mostly went around event management. They spoke passionately about team lunches, outings, and so on. They work as HR executives in big organizations, and their understanding of employee engagement is mere event management. HR managers are not event managers; they have a more significant role in employee engagement. 

 

Employee engagement talks about how employees actively participate in work and the workplace. It is crucial because it leads to results that the organization is highly rooting for. Another clarification I would like to clarify here is that introverts do not lead to employee disengagement. Introverts are focused on work and the workplace just like any other engaged employee, just that their level of participation would be less in highly simulated environments. That is nowhere called disengagement. 

 

I have discussed employee welfare and wellness in one of my other articles. If there is no active employee engagement, it's not quiet quitting anymore but loud quitting. When employees are not engaged in work, they either actively look for another job or start skipping active work duty. Below is the Gallup report for employee engagement.  

 
What can we do to reduce Quiet Quitting?

There are so many ways by which we can reduce quiet quitting and increase employee engagement. Let us look at a few of them. 

  • Listen to employees
  • Increase Employee Engagement
  • Find out what motivates people at work
  • Educate Managers
  • Clear politics
  • Increase Psychological Safety
  • Satisfy Employee needs
 

Listen to employees: One thing that leads to a hustle culture is that organizations do something for employees without listening. There are so many ways to do listening. Employee surveys, employee feedback, not shooting the messengers, eliminating heroisms, promoting team cultures, etc.

 

Increase employee engagement: Multiple things to do to promote employee engagement within the organization. Having a clear organizational purpose, encouraging employees to speak up, caring management, passionate and empathizing managers, encouraging learning and strengthening employee skills, precise work-life balance, mentoring and coaching employees at the workplace, and most of all, recognizing their efforts.

 

Find out what motivates them: Not everyone gets encouraged only with salary and titles. If that is what your organization offers, you must rethink the strategies employed to retain employees. In motivation 3.0, Daniel H. Pink's research states that what motivates people is not money but Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. If you want your employees to do creative work while staying motivated, ensure the workplace has autonomy with a clear purpose and path for developing themselves to attain mastery. 

 

Educate Managers: Most companies promote people to managers but fail to train them to become managers. People who do not get trained tend to follow their own managers' footsteps, which might not end well. A great manager is not a supervisor with a stick or a carrot but a coach who brings the best in people by having compassionate conversations. The environment isn't conducive if managers are not mentors or coaches. 

 

Clear Politics: When people cannot be vulnerable in an environment, they tend to play politics wasting everyone's time and energy. Bringing transparency and vulnerability among teams increases the chances of clearing politics and enhancing teamwork. 

 

Increase Psychological Safety: In an organization where people are punished for speaking up, trying new things, finding new ways of doing things better, or failing because of running research or hypothesis, there will not be open and honest communication. People tend to move everything under the rug and will not participate in anything other than following rules or mundane activities that don't get them punished. 

 

Satisfy employee needs: People have specific needs regarding their job and workplace. Organizations need to listen to their employees to understand their needs. Not everyone wants the same thing as people who are unique. Understanding and addressing the needs of employees will help them focus more on the work. Transforming Managers into team coaches can solve various problems employees face at work. 

 

Parting Thoughts

People do quiet quitting due to various reasons. They do it because it helps them, or they do not see value in going the extra mile. It is neither good nor bad and should be taken with a pinch of salt. If you are an employee, do not follow the majority on the internet; instead, reason with yourself on the term. If you are an employer, identify the reason behind your employee's actions and help them accordingly. There is no one correct answer for everything. The internet has a mixed reaction over quiet quitting, and everything is a trend these days. 

      

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