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Demystifying This Quiet Stuff Part 1 - Quiet Quitting

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

During the pandemic, quiet quitting emerged as a much-publicized trend in the U.S. and elsewhere. The term was driven by Gen Z workers who helped it go viral on Tik Tok.

So, what exactly is it?

Quiet quitting refers to doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than is absolutely necessary. In short, it is doing the bare minimum to get by.

Is this new?

Not at all. It’s really just another word for employee engagement – or lack thereof. And way back in the day, it was called presenteeism. This meant that an employee was physically at work, but not mentally.

How prevalent is it?

A 2022 Gallup survey suggested that at least half of the U.S. workforce consists of quiet quitters, with the percentage being particularly high among workers under age 35.

What is the root cause?

A large part of quiet quitting or disengagement stems from employees not feeling like their organization or manager cares about them.

What can be done about this?

To overcome this, it’s important to understand that there are really 3 human needs (aka rules of engagement) that need to be addressed.

  1. Employees want to see meaning and purpose in their work. They want to understand how their work matters to the organization, their manager and the customers.

  2. They want to be recognized for their unique contributions.

  3. They want to have a good relationship with their leader and feel that their leader cares and wants to help them grow.

To get a pulse on where your employees are as it relates to these needs, you could consider a one-on-one where you ask them some questions. Ask them open-ended questions to gauge these needs such as:

  • What would help you to see more meaning and purpose in your work?

  • How do you like to be recognized?

  • Am I meeting the team’s needs as a leader? What could I do better or differently?

And then act on their feedback. If they seem hesitant to share, keep working on it as it may take a little time for them to be willing to open up.

What if it doesn't work?

Once you have attempted to address the needs of your employees and move them towards engagement, it may be necessary to move those that remain in quiet quitter mode out of your organization by holding them accountable for performance and behavior.

In conclusion

Quiet quitting is an expensive problem and something that you will need to work towards overcoming for your organization to grow and thrive. To capture the hearts and minds of your employees, you need to help them see meaning and purpose; recognize them in a meaningful well; and show that you care about them and their growth and development.

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