A different lens on Quiet Quitting

Leaders shouldn’t fear the term Quiet Quitting, but instead reframe it as a strategy for employee retention and productivity enhancement.

With so much conversation happening around Quiet Quitting, it is worth considering an alternate perspective. Regardless of what definition you use for Quiet Quitting, this trend is a growing challenge for leaders in any industry. Quiet quitting is a catchy term that has different shades of meaning depending on the source, describing a real phenomenon happening in the workplace today. Quiet quitting doesn’t actually refer to quitting a job. The term is used in varying ways that refer to different methods of reducing productivity or the amount of work one performs, for instance, Gallup finds that 18% of the workforce is actively disengaged at work. Quiet quitting is often discussed in the context of employee dissatisfaction, burnout, disengagement, and the trend of deprioritizing work in favor of other aspects of life. It is often used alongside other terms used in the same context, such as anti-ambition, Great Resignations. It might range from retaliation (active efforts to sabotage work tasks), resistance (refusal to engage in work tasks), to withdrawal (psychological detachment from the job).

Recently I had lots of interesting discussions regarding the Quiet Quitting phenomenon, which led me to some questions:

  • Is it really true that quiet quitting is a symptom of poor management?
  • What can be done to improve morale, productivity and engagement in a hybrid model of working?
  • How can leaders shift their mindset to engage teams in a more positive way?
  • Should leaders be trained in a different way? What support do they really need to work best in a diverse workforce?

Over the last decade, I have studied the critical characteristics of high-performing leaders and their teams, and how much mindset influences the way people are managed. Leaders who adopt a growth mindset create a healthy culture of accountability that drives business growth. Leaders with a growth mindset see opportunities for their teams, even during times of crisis. They don’t hide in a corner believing all efforts have been wasted and they don’t look for anyone to blame. Instead, they make every effort to accelerate their team’s growth to overcome any business challenge. Leading with a growth mindset is critical to developing any team into proactive, accountable, and motivated solution-seekers. And when the team grows and evolves, the company does the same. Exceptional leaders understand that they have to consciously develop their skills and the skills of their team. They know that Quiet Quitting is about a change in engagement, and they are aware that with strong passion, energy and vision for growth, people will be more willing to follow them. 

Quiet Quitting is about a change in engagement. Engagement is a choice.

Quiet Quitting is about a change in engagement and creating positive working environment. Creating a healthy company culture that aspires to fight Quiet Quitting can be evoked by focusing on Healthy Engagement. Employees today are looking for belonging, flexibility and more purpose at work. They are much more motivated to work for a fair and empathetic leader than one who has unrealistic expectations. Leaders shouldn’t fear the term Quiet Quitting, but instead reframe it as a strategy for employee retention and productivity enhancement. By creating an environment where people want to do their best and at the same time are empowered to better balance their time. However, this requires a new style of leadership that is more focused on building a workplace that recognizes and welcomes diversity and where inclusion is a norm. 

Take a moment to reflect on the following few principles that can be developed by leaders to create a better outcome in increasing the positive change in working environment and set a different lens on reducing Quiet Quitting.

Choose Engagement. 

Invest in people around you. Learn how to have conversations to help employees reduce disengagement and burnout. Only you are in a position to know your employees as individuals, their life situations, strengths, aspirations, ambitions. Help them to reassess their goals and priorities.

Create an acceptable environment for open dialogue and transparent communication with the people around you. Employees must see how their work contributes to the organization’s larger purpose. Set up an agreement outlining how you want to work and cooperate with others. Establish healthy rules. Block 90 minutes each week with your team to discuss the most critical issues in your organization. Every organization needs a culture in which people are engaged and feel they belong. Don’t allow them to choose to stay and withhold, don’t allow them to do the bare minimum at work. Help them to redefine their work life balance, show them the ways to restore their equilibrium. Re-look at the employees’ job description and check if the job description corresponds with the development plan. 

You may do it by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I set clear expectations for my team?
  • Are the expectations reasonable and fair to complete within the time a person is expected to be at work?
  • Do they describe what is required in a particular role or are they only stated as the bare minimum?
  • Do I discuss growth opportunities in the organization in a transparent way? ?

Develop a growth mindset. 

Set a ton of possibilities and channel empathy, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentation, and collaboration. See more and focus on the good things while working with your team. 

Reflect on: How would the quality of your days at work change if you showed up with more intention, more presence and more passion while working with your team? 

Make yourself and your team ready to drive meaningful change – whether that means the systems and structures of the organization, or even pivoting its strategic direction and vision. Before you do anything, you need to first understand your starting point:

  • What are your own limits, motivations, and emotional states? 
  • What are the limiting beliefs and obstacles of your team? 

By embracing self-awareness as a leader, you become better equipped to make impactful decisions and explore opportunities for more growth for you and your team.

Create a sense of belonging.

Be clear about the company values first. Feeling a sense of belonging, of being included. High psychological safety comes from feeling a sense of belonging. If it’s low, it’s related to apathy or anxiety, which decreases employee engagement. The environment of fear, lack of trust from the leaders and lack of role clarity can produce teams of quiet quitters.

As a leader you should ask these questions regarding people in your team:

  • Do they feel connected to the organisation’s purpose?
  • Do they feel they are contributing to a greater purpose that fulfils them?
  • Where do they feel most satisfied and fulfilled?
  • What are they willing to compromise on?
  • How and how often are they rewarded for their contributions?

When employees feel connected with their colleagues and workplace, they will find ways to put any additional effort into their jobs. Place a high priority on mental health and wellbeing. Think about how far you and your team lift each other up. 

You can explore more by reading my book The Art of Changing your Mindset. Achieve Inner Balance and Excel in Business and Life. Or take part in the workshops Quiet Quitting – how can you take care of yourself and your team to restore the mental health and wellbeing.

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