What do you think of when you hear the term “quiet quitter”? Maybe a disengaged employee or a low performer? Well, that’s not always the case. Quiet quitting – often a response to burnout – is affecting top performers, too.
High performers can be up to 400% more productive than the average employee and be much more costly to replace. “Losing even a few star workers (to quiet quitting) can have an astronomical impact on your bottom line,” said Sarah Liu, CEO of The Dream Collective.
Modern Health’s “The State Of Employee Mental Health In An Uncertain World” report found that burnout is continuing to rise for top performers – and that can lead to quiet quitting.
The paradox of burnout and high performers
Seventy-six percent of high performers said that they are enthusiastic about their job. However, 53% of those high performers also said that they were burnt out according to the report – higher than the 49% of typical employees. These high levels of burnout can be a slippery slope towards quiet quitting.
When asked why they plan to stay at their organization for at least the next year, top performers indicated some key reasons:
- “The benefits I receive here meet my needs.”
- “I like my work/life balance.”
- “I’m compensated fairly or above market rate for my work,” and
- “The culture among colleagues is positive.”
So why are employees who are self-identifying as enthusiastic about their jobs so burnt out? Forty-eight percent say it’s the workload and 45% say staffing shortages are the main causes.
A disconnect between employers and employees
Although employers may think they’re doing a good job of supporting mental health at work, they are not meeting expectations. While almost three-quarters (74%) of employees want their employer to care about their mental health, only half (53%) feel that their employers actually do, according to the report.
Plus, while 85% of employers feel they actively listen to the needs of employees, only 51% of employees agree with that.
“It’s clear that employers still have a ways to go before they meet their employees’ mental health standards. This movement will be essential to retaining employees, and also attracting new ones,” said Dr. Myra Altman, psychologist and VP of clinical strategy and research at Modern Health.
How HR can stay proactive about burnout
Dr. Altman gives several ways to proactively prevent high performers from quiet quitting, including:
- Actively listening to what employees need: Many employers have a skewed view of how their employees feel about their organization. Going beyond an employee’s words to identify and address symptoms of burnout, like missed meetings and late-night emails.
- Foster a safe space for employees: A measly 51% of employees feel safe in their role if their mental health status were to be revealed. Expressing vulnerability and encouraging employees to express how they’re feeling can help promote a safe space for employees to share how they’re feeling before they hit a breaking point. You may also consider providing mental health education to help employees feel safe opening up.
- Provide recognition and rest: Many high performers don’t get recognized for their work. The study found that while high performers are working more hours and are getting more done than last year, they’re also being asked to take on more tasks. Too often, employers force high performers to make up for staffing shortages. Reward and recognize employees for their hard work and consider adding extra mental health PTO days or companywide holidays to help employees reset and recharge.
“Ensuring that employees are engaged will be critical to business success, and supporting employee mental health through robust benefits and organizational structures that prevent burnout is increasingly being seen as key to that,” said Dr. Altman.