Is it quiet quitting? Or poor management?
There’s been a lot of talk lately surrounding “quiet quitting” — the concept of doing the least amount possible at work while still meeting minimum job requirements.
Some people might call this kind of behavior lazy, duplicitous or just plain wrong. But there are many factors that impact a worker’s decision to quietly quit, and most of them don’t have to do with laziness. Take, for instance, the fact that 80 percent of those who qualify as quiet quitters also feel burnt out, bored or overwhelmed at work.
When compounded with the fact that nine in ten quiet quitters could be incentivized to work harder, it’s clear that there’s another culprit in this new-age work dilemma: poor management.
In fact, if workers are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, it’s usually a sign of employee neglect — a trend that has existed long before quiet quitting was first coined.
What does poor management look like? A combination of negative workplace attitudes and behaviors, the absence of managerial support and a lack of access to professional resources are three major contributing factors to a subpar management style.
Let’s look at how these factors create the right conditions for quiet quitting, and how managers and employees can work together to counteract them.
Negative workplace attitudes and behaviors
Poor workplace attitudes and behaviors are a worker’s kryptonite. Whether it comes from coworkers, bosses or the workplace culture that’s been established, bad or toxic office behavior is one of the leading ways burnout begins among employees.
The problem is, bad behaviors aren’t always easy to spot. Toxic workplace attitudes don’t just include bullying or harassment; sometimes, an inauthentically positive office can be just as damaging as a rude, hostile workplace. Here’s some negative attitudes and behaviors to watch out for while on the job:
- Rewarding damaging “hustle” culture: Praising workers who put in overtime for no additional pay or compensation.
- An obsessively client-first mentality: Forcing employees to drop everything at a client’s request, even if the request is unhelpful, low-priority or unfeasible.
- Toxic positivity: Encouraging workers to brush any and all challenges and hardships under the rug in favor of “positive” attitudes and behaviors that obscure problems like burnout, stress and boredom.
- False promises: Leading employees on by hinting at the possibility of a raise or promotion in exchange for doing good work; ultimately, the advancement comes too late, or is less than what was promised.
How do employees and managers counteract behaviors such as these? For workers, flagging these concerns to a trusted workplace advisor, or an HR representative, is a good place to start. When it comes to managers, the goal is to constantly check in with employees and keep an ear to the ground — when you hear something’s amiss, it’s your job to listen. Take any and all concerns very seriously; if you don’t, you may just be looking at an entire office floor of quiet quitters.
The absence of managerial support
Employees don’t just want to do a good job and go home. They want to be recognized for the work they do. Unfortunately, praise and reassurance from managers is often lacking or absent entirely, meaning employees go unsupported for their efforts. When compounded with the fact that many companies don’t provide a meaningful roadmap toward employee growth or promotion, you’ve got a Category 5 quiet quitting mega-storm on your hands.
How can you change this? For managers, creating systems at work that are designed to help employees grow and thrive is crucial. In addition to weekly check-ins, offer quarterly, bi-annual and annual progress meetings, and make yourself available to those who work under you. During those times, praise your workers for their achievements, and discuss areas for improvement that will help them reach the next step in their career (hint: if you’re new to employee mentoring, you might want to invest in a career coach yourself).
Other ways to support employees involve creating detailed job descriptions that clearly outline roles and responsibilities, and making time to champion employees who succeed beyond expectations. It’s also important that managers keep an eye on employees who are routinely going the extra mile, clocking out late and showing up early — while their dedication is admirable, it’s a manager’s job to flag and prevent burnout before it creeps in.
For employees, the task is simple: when a problem exists, raise your hand. Many workers who don’t feel supported believe it’s entirely on management to fix the situation, but a situation that goes unnoticed can’t be fixed. Don’t drown silently at work — schedule time with your boss to discuss why you’re feeling burnt out, unsupported or uninspired.
It may be a hard conversation to have, but bringing up grievances is much better than choosing to quietly quit. After all, while hard workplace conversations can be difficult, you’ll be far more satisfied as a re-engaged worker than as an employee who’s all but given up on the job.
Lack of access to professional resources
No, workers can’t do everything. And just as workers can’t do everything, neither can managers. Not even the best boss can be a leader, friend, mentor, therapist, coach, taskmaster and disciplinarian all wrapped into one.
But the best boss can offer enough resources to cover all of those bases. With so many employees feeling burnt out and stressed, it’s important to provide outside help to your workers — the kind of help that can stop burnout and quiet quitting trends in their tracks.
To make sure your workers are getting the help they need, be sure to go over the resources your outfit offers with your HR team. What do you already offer? What more could you give? Have you asked your workers how they feel about the benefits you’re providing, or are you guessing and hoping that they suffice?
One of the best ways to counteract quiet quitting and burnout is therapy and coaching services. Giving workers an outside source to talk about their jobs and engage in self-improvement is crucial to a healthy, thriving workplace. As for employees, your job is to make the most of the resources offered by your manager.
By working together, employers and employees can counteract quiet quitting
Quiet quitting is a concerning trend, but it’s not an incurable one. By taking the steps to improve an employee’s work environment, managers can effectively reduce (or negate) quiet quitting among their workers.
For their part, good workers who feel truly supported will go above and beyond what you ask of them. Those who fail to stay engaged despite ample support, good workplace behaviors and a wealth of professional resources aren’t just misguided “quiet quitters” — they’re probably a bad fit for the company entirely.