Quiet Quitting- Who is to Blame?
Updated: Oct 10
Gallup says over 50% of the American workforce is quiet quitting. Who's to blame?
Is this a generational problem? Or a response to the current state of corporate workplaces & employment relationships?
You may have heard of "quiet quitting" if you are active on social media or subscribe to various prominent media publications. We have heard innumerable opinions on whether quiet quitters are good for business, terrible for business, or somewhere in between. But what exactly does quiet quitting mean?
What is quiet quitting?
Zaid Khan, an engineer in his twenties, submitted a video to TikTok in which quite quitting was announced. Khan narrates a 17-second video that has introduced millions of people to the concept, accompanied by the sound of a ragtime-style piano and summertime images of New York City flashing across the screen.
"Recently, I learned about the concept of 'quiet quitting,' in which you don't quit your work explicitly, but instead abandon the concept of going above and beyond," Khan explains. "You are still carrying out your responsibilities, but you no longer subscribe to the hustle culture belief that work must consume your life. The reality is that it is not, and your worth is not determined by your labor."
In other words, quiet quitting is not truly about quitting. It more closely resembles the concept of performing the bare minimum at work.
In Japan, there is a concept known as shokunin, which refers to an artist who is devoted to their profession and constantly strives for perfection. Quiet quitting is the exact opposite of this. It is about separating your ego from your profession and not striving for perfection. Establishing limits and simply doing the job you are paid to do within the allotted time, without any extras. No more groveling before your boss or clients. No longer working nights and weekends and constantly checking your email.
According to a new Gallup study, 50 percent of the American workforce is quietly quitting, the latest movement in corporate America where workers have said "enough" of being overworking and have decided to establish limits for their well-being. Employees are no longer prepared to go above and beyond their job definitions if it means jeopardizing their mental health; rather, they are sticking to their job descriptions.
In the meantime, the number of disengaged employees is increasing, a tendency accelerated by the Great Resignation. As a result of inflation, employees are wary of being pushed to do more without commensurate pay increases. According to Gallop, a significant number of quiet quitters also fit the profile of disengaged employees: a willingness to complete the bare minimum of essential labor – and being emotionally distant.
The Great Resignation left many unfinished tasks. As a result, businesses have requested that their surviving employees pick up the burden. Increasing job obligations are not being adequately compensated. Moreover, workers are burning out.
An expert on organizational behavior tells GQ magazine that quiet quitting is a method to combat this burnout.
Research indicates that burnout is a significant concern on the job, particularly for Gen Z professionals in their 20s. Microsoft's poll of 30,000 workers revealed that 54 percent of Generation Z are considering quitting their jobs.
The World Economic Forum puts "young disenchantment" as the eighth of ten immediate threats in its 2021 Global Risks Report. Since the beginning of the pandemic, mental health has deteriorated, leaving 80 percent of the world's youth vulnerable to sadness, anxiety, and disillusionment.
Who is to blame?
There are numerous reasons why people quit their jobs. Some individuals will always perform the bare minimum. But for many individuals, their leadership (and their leaders’ behavior) plays a significant role in their level of engagement at work.
Study conducted by Zenger Folkman analyzed more than 13,000 employees' opinions of 2801 managers based on data collected from 360-degree leadership assessments conducted since the year 2020. According to the findings of the study, the least successful managers have three to four times as many employees who fall into the category of "quiet quitting" compared to the most effective leaders. These managers had 14 percent of their direct subordinates prepared to leave the company, and only 20 percent of them were willing to put in additional work. Those who were assessed as being the best at balancing results and relationships, on the other hand, saw 62 percent of their direct reports willing to put in more work, while only 3 percent of them quit quietly.
According to data published in the Harvard Business Review, the decision to quietly leave one's job is typically less about an employee's willingness to work harder and more about a manager's ability to build a relationship with their employees in which the employees are not counting the minutes until it is time to leave for the day. On average, five direct reports evaluated each boss, and compared two data points:
• Employee ratings of their manager's ability to "balance achieving outcomes with consideration for the interests of others"
• Employee ratings of the extent to which their "work environment is a place where people are willing to go above and beyond"
At some time in their careers, many individuals have worked for a manager who pushed them toward a discreet resignation. This is a result of feeling unappreciated and undervalued. It is possible that the management was biased or engaged in inappropriate behavior. The absence of employee motivation was a result of the manager's actions.
The majority of mid-career employees had also worked for a boss for whom they were very motivated to achieve goals and objectives. They did not hate working late or getting an early start because this management inspired them.
It is far less likely that any of your direct reports will ” quite quit” if you cultivate trustworthy relationships with each of them. The strategy that leaders employed in the past to coerce staff into producing desired results is not a strategy that will work in today’s workforce. Organizations must continue working towards happier and healthier workplaces for all employees.
"Above and beyond" effort has to be earned
It is easy to point the finger of blame at workers who quietly quit their jobs for being unmotivated or unproductive. However, we should instead look inward and acknowledge that people want to give their energy, creativity, time, and enthusiasm to the organizations and leaders who deserve it. As leaders we need to work to facilitate an environment that promotes employee engagement and desire to contribute to the company's mission.
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