Can HR stop Quiet Quitting before it happens?
Yes, you can curb the trend based on the mindset: I want to take care of myself and reclaim control of my mental and physical well-being by setting healthy boundaries at work, knowing my time is valuable.
Opinions are all over the place on the subject. Some think, “Damn straight, we shouldn’t have to go above and beyond at work to sacrifice our lives!” Some think it only makes sense to purposefully create that space between work and life. Others think Quiet Quitting is career suicide.
Still, more than 40% of employees are considering a job change, according to research from McKinsey. Couple that with Quiet Quitters – who are less likely to be engaged in their workplace and more likely to stay strictly within the boundaries of their job description – and organizations will likely have difficulties meeting goals.
Almost all forms of quitting revolve around engagement – so Quiet Quitting isn’t entirely new to HR pros like you. But you want to stop any kind of quitting, especially now as many companies are just bouncing back from the Great Resignation.
“Work is not just a place anymore but should be a source of fulfilling relationships and a community to which employees feel connected,” says Niamh Graham, SVP of Global Human Experience at Workhuman. “It should add to their happiness and provide a sense of meaning to their life, making them feel a part of something bigger, something better and full of positivity.”
So HR and front-line managers want to make efforts now to stay ahead of Quiet Quitting (or Loud Quitting or everyday quitting). Here are five ways to keep employees engaged – or rebuild engagement that might have been lost in the Great Reshuffle.
Know who’s Quiet Quitting
While any employee can become disengaged at work – and disenchanted with the things that first attracted them to their employers – some employees are more likely to quietly quit. It’s your younger workers.
Almost 55% of employees born after 1989 are not engaged, according to Gallup research. They show up to work and do the minimum, which is the essence of Quiet Quitting.
And employees who are 18-34 are more likely to feel burned out than the rest of the workforce, according to a Talkspace/The Harris Poll Employee Stress Check 2022 Report.
“These findings crystalize what we’ve long known to be true: successful organizations and employee wellness are inextricably linked. Employers must take notice and make meaningful investments in their employees’ long-term well-being. Their workplaces depend on it,” says Dr. Varun Choudhary, MD, MA, DFAPA, Chief Medical Officer of Talkspace.
Keep an eye and ear out for younger workers’ stress struggles. Train front-line managers on the signs of abnormal stress and how to help employees.
Re-focus on recognition
One of the bigger reasons employees become disengaged is they don’t feel their efforts are appreciated. And that further interferes with their ability to recognize the value and purpose in their work.
“Good recognition staves off burnout,” said Ed O’Boyle, Global Practice Leader at Gallup, when he spoke at Workhuman Live 2022. “Lack of recognition kindles it.”
Unfortunately, it looks like burnout – and its result, Quiet Quitting – is being kindled. Nearly 85% of company leaders in one of O’Boyle’s studies said recognition is not a strategic priority.
HR professionals might want to nudge the C-Suite on this subject. Employee engagement depends on recognition for their contributions. When employees see the value of going above and beyond, they will more likely stay engaged. They need to understand the impact their work has on colleagues, company success, their community and/or a greater good.
Give employees tools and the power to recognize each other for work that matters. It’s helpful on two fronts: 1) Managers can’t possibly see or experience all of their employees’ recognition-worthy efforts, and 2) Employees often know each other best and understand what’s significant to each other.
Meet today’s needs
Employee engagement depends much more on purpose in the workplace these days. But perks still have their place in engagement and curbing turnover.
What’s critical now: Recognize and respond to the different working situations – remote, hybrid and on-site – and what can make each more comfortable and inviting to employees.
For instance, almost half of employees who are in the office say fitness perks such as yoga studios and office gyms, and access to designated quiet space in open space offices are preferred perks, according to the study from Framery and Feelback Group. At the bottom of their list now are things that used to be attractive hiring perks: communal game areas and drinks on tap.
“The findings should put a final nail in the coffin of the ping pong tables, beer kegs, scooters and other artifacts of ‘mandatory fun’ office culture,” says Samu Hällfors, CEO of Framery. “Working from home made it possible for people to exercise more regularly and to do more quality work without the constant interruptions of the open office. These are tangible benefits that made employees happier and more productive, and it’s clear that they don’t want to give them up as they return to the office.”
But that doesn’t mean those particular perks work for every workplace. HR pros will want to work with executives (to determine the financial ability to provide perks) and front-line managers (to determine the ability to execute) to find your ideal perks. Finally, you’ll want to survey employees to find out what will keep them engaged.
Connect more often
People don’t leave – or quietly quit – employers. They quit bosses. That’s why it’s important for front-line managers to connect with employees more often, especially remote workers.
“Checking in frequently via weekly one-on-ones that discuss both professional and personal development can help employees feel more engaged and motivated in their career paths and current jobs,” says Elizabeth DeGroot, Director of People and Finance at Eden.
Help front-line managers facilitate meaningful one-on-one meetings with their employees. You might cover the topic in management training. Even better, give them guides for having productive, meaningful conversations that help employees develop and stay engaged.
Offer more career management
Quiet Quitting is a career decision. Employees have decided or are considering a decision to change their career. And when the decision is to Quiet Quit, it won’t likely have the same impact they once did.
At a time when turnover remains high, and employees are increasingly finicky about the work arrangements they believe are ideal (remote was all the rage, now hybrid is), try to help employees carve out their best careers with you.
You might be able to prevent a Quiet Quitting decision by helping employees manage their careers better from the day they start with you.
In fact, 94% of employees would stay at a job longer if they had access to career development, the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report found.
Here’s a best practice: Verizon created the Talent GPS, which offers a transparent view of jobs companywide and key competencies needed to succeed in each. With this, employees can take control of navigating their careers within the organization. It helps them visualize their next move and come up with strategies to get there.
“Feeling stuck and isolated in today’s work environment may lead your employees to carry out the bare minimum,” DeGroot says. “If you want your company to thrive and innovate, you must invest in your employees with the right tools and feedback that will enable them to be engaged and motivated in their roles.”