In the post-COVID business world, company culture is frequently in the spotlight. To attract and retain talent, many businesses put significant effort into creating a positive work environment. But, culture isn’t always enough to keep employees happy — and sometimes, they become so unhappy at work that they "quietly quit."
What is Quiet Quitting?
Quiet quitting is rooted in decreased employee engagement, psychological detachment, and individuals reevaluating how they want to spend their lives.
Gallup data suggests that quiet quitters make up at least half of the U.S. workforce, meaning one out of every two employees is doing the bare minimum to get by, unwilling to go the extra mile for your organization. Let that sink in…
Recent Top Workplaces research supports a similar narrative:
- 42 percent of Top Workplaces Research lab participants have seen evidence of quiet quitting at their organizations.
- Large organizations (+1,000 employees) are feeling it the most, with 65 percent reporting evidence of quiet quitting vs. 39 percent at small organizations.
- 68 percent of responders who rank employee turnover as a primary concern also indicated higher levels of quiet quitting.
Quiet quitting happens when an employee decides to dedicate less of themselves to their jobs. They may even choose to leave a company without giving notice or telling their boss. They may have already accepted a job at another company, become fed up with their current situation or have reduced their commitment to their job, colleagues, customers or patients. Whatever the reason, quiet quitting can be harmful to a company for several reasons.
Why Quiet Quitting is Detrimental to Companies
- It disrupts the workflow of the entire team, forcing the remaining team members to pick up the slack and figure out how to complete the work the quitter was responsible for. This can be a daunting task especially if the person was in a leadership role or held critical knowledge about the company's products or services.
- It damages morale and sends a message to the remaining employees that the behavior is acceptable. Not only does this wreak havoc on morale but it creates an environment of suspicion and mistrust, and causes anger and resentment among coworkers. And it often leaves managers wondering who is truly committed to their job and who might be headed for the door.
- It hurts the bottom line, leads to lower levels of customer satisfaction and loss of brand reputation. Often other employees have to pick up the slack for disengaged team members, increasing overtime and potentially contributing to higher levels of burnout. As quitters leave, the company may have to spend money on recruiting and training replacement employees while struggling with lower productivity.
How to Address Quiet Quitting
In today's increasingly competitive business world, it is more important than ever for companies to create a positive work environment and culture. But having a great organizational culture isn’t always enough if your people-managers can’t manage people, giving credibility to the adage - “people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses.”
In their Harvard Business Review article, Quiet Quitting is About Bad Bosses, Not Bad Employees, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman argue that trust is the antidote to quiet quitting.
“When direct reports trusted their leader, they also assumed that the manager cared about them and was concerned about their wellbeing.
Our research has linked trust to three behaviors. First, having positive relationships with all of your direct reports. This means you look forward to connecting and enjoy talking to them. Common interests bind you together, while differences are stimulating. Some team members make it easy to have a positive relationship. Others are more challenging. This is often a result of differences (age, gender, ethnicity, or political orientation). Look for and discover common ground with these team members to build mutual trust.
The second element of trust is consistency. In addition to being totally honest, leaders need to deliver on what they promise. Most leaders believe they are more consistent than others perceive them.
The third element that builds trust is expertise. Do you know your job well? Are you out of date on any aspects of your work? Do others trust your opinions and your advice? Experts can bring clarity, a path forward, and clear insight to build trust.”
While quiet quitting may seem like the latest HR fad, it can have a disastrous impact so you should be aware of the dangers and take steps to prevent it from happening.
Some quick tips for you to consider:
- Explain to employees how and why their work matters – don't assume they can connect the dots for themselves
- Provide truly meaningful work
- Measure how engaged your employees are and actively address areas of opportunity
- Hire for culture
- Improve front-line leaders’ skills
- Build talent and create opportunities for personal and professional growth
For more information about how caring generates value, visit our recent blog post, "Value creation may be thanksgiving’s superpower."
If you are unsure about the level of employee commitment in your organization or one of your portfolio companies is already experiencing quiet quitting, reach out for help. An experienced advisor can help you diagnose and address the root causes and reengage your most valuable assets, your people. We’d be glad to help!