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quiet quitting

How can you prevent the reign of quiet quitting in your team?

Quiet quitting is one of the hottest topics of discussion in the corporate world right now. Employees are resorting to this method of quitting to protect themselves from the additional stress and burden that often tags along with work. In this blog, we will visit this phenomenon of quiet quitting that has taken the corporate world by storm. While understanding what it means and why it is happening, we will try to uncover solutions for employers to shield their teams from this rapidly moving trend. 

Quiet quitting – an alarming trend among employees

Before quiet quitting, the world was shocked by the “lying flat” trend that started in China. The “lying flat” movement promised freedom from the struggle of a typical 9 to 5 job. In a nation known for its prescriptive strict work ethics, people are increasingly jumping out of the box and defining their lives to mean much more than merely work. The quiet quitting movement gained rapid popularity on social media riding on the shoulders of advocacy from Gen Z, who have recently entered the workforce. But, the origin of the idea lies in China once again. The young generation of the Chinese workforce is willing to rebel against the authoritarian regime’s pushback by reimagining the lying flat moment. 

If we look into the history of this term, it was first used by the economist Mark Boldger to describe the absence of ambition in workers in Venezuela, who were doing exactly the bare minimum required from them at work. The resurgence of this trend in the current white-collar workforce has sent shock waves through managers due to this looming absence of ambition in their teams. After Covid-19 induced sabbaticals in workaholism, people who had earlier formed their life around their jobs have switched views. Employees seek a better work-life balance that leaves enough time to live a fulfilled life. 

What is “quiet quitting”?

The term “quiet quitting” is quite a misnomer. In contrast to what the name suggests, the employees are not quitting their jobs. Instead, quite quitting happens when employees do their jobs precisely. They work within the specified hours, focus only on tasks that directly relate to their jobs, and race towards standards only up to the prescribed benchmark.

The philosophy of quite quitting is also called work-to-rule. The followers believe they should work only as much as defined in their job descriptions. Carrying out duties as per pay is the core idea that runs this trend. It evolves from the earlier movement, wherein instead of advocating for leaving the hustle in its entirety, this movement only asks people to stop doing anything more than is absolutely needed. People following this philosophy denounce going above and beyond at work. 

Some may call it quiet quitting, while the proponents will just call it usual work.

The trend is a worrying signal for employers as it stops the constant flow of ambition and innovation, which are vital to driving the growth engine of any team. As more and more people adopt the philosophy of quiet quitting, employers are bound to deal with teams that are running low on ambition. Motivation and inspiration become more significant challenges in the face of an uninterested workforce. The threat of stagnancy gains more strength with this trend, which is why employers are trying their best to stop it from gaining a hold over their organization. 

The causes of quiet quitting

The reign of quiet quitting is a problem in many workplaces and can have serious consequences. Team members must be encouraged and rewarded for their hard work, no matter how quiet they may be. That includes the quiet workers too! However, managers must understand why this is happening before seeking a resolution. 

Over the years, trends in workplace cultures have placed an increased emphasis on working hard. Under the rewarding title of hard workers, employees have been toiling for long hours at jobs that fail to provide them fulfillment and satisfaction. With the new addition to the workforce and changes in work modes, employees have begun to understand the transactional nature of work. In consequence, the effort they put in is directly related to the output they receive. Their focus has moved from work as the pivot to work as a part of the work-life balance. 

Moreover, many employees face burnout, accelerated stress levels, and lifestyle diseases exacerbated by unhealthy workplace habits. As work continues to hamper personal growth and contribute to damage, employees are starting to create a boundary that protects their mental and physical health. Covid-19 and remote working just exacerbated this. 

Lastly, the inability to spot growth opportunities demotivates workers to a great extent. Employees are unlikely to give their best in a role where they cannot envision a future for themselves. If they are bound to remain stuck in a similar cycle for years, they are happier to do so with the bare minimum effort.  

What does it mean for your team?

While quiet quitting is an unorganized and unstructured silent movement led by employees’ behavior, there are a few things that managers can note if they feel that their teams are falling prey to this trend. 

First, managers must understand why this movement can gain support among their teams. In many organizations, the HRM systems are conventional. They try to shape the employee’s growth along a traditional path. Effectively, the approaches lack flexibility, inhibit autonomy and curb free movement. These things could cause unhappiness among your employees and demotivate them. In the absence of freedom to grow their careers, employees are prone to be demotivated at work.

When you identify the signs of disengagement in your team, you must take steps to enhance work fulfillment. It is understood that work cannot be the only source of pride. However, managers can ensure that employees do not feel burdened at work. Instead, they should look forward to working every day. The role of managers and leaders is vital in facilitating this.

Lastly, it also indicates that the communication between managers and employees is not robust. The presence of strong relationships among employees is vital in making employees feel secure and motivated. A team is likely to face trouble when they cannot communicate smoothly.

If these problems persist, you can expect your team members to quit quietly until they get an appropriate opportunity to quit out loud.

How to prevent quiet quitting in your team?

You can wait patiently for how things unfold at your own risk. On the other hand, Savvy managers would like to be proactive and take matters into their own hands. They know that if they don’t, they will miss their objectives. The question is how. Here are a few techniques:

1) Provide growth opportunities

Employees lose interest in their jobs when they cannot find growth opportunities. Therefore, managers must keep their employees moving to keep them engaged at work. You can create growth trajectories for your employees that align well with your team’s goals. This will enable the employees to perform better due to a sense of attachment that will fuel their motivation. 

They can also reorganize the job description to enrich their role with more exciting work. Enabling autonomous decision-making and action is crucial in fueling growth too.

2) Help build work-life balance

Maintaining work-life balance often becomes challenging in remote and hybrid teams. However, managers can immensely help their employees by assisting them in creating work-life balance. The employees will be able to focus on their personal lives and interests outside work, altogether gaining peace of mind. Sufficient time to release stress is essential for employees to avoid burnout and give their best at work.

Managers need to build work-life balance into the work culture. It will also encourage employees to take time off work as needed instead of slowly drifting away from work. Building this balance will also require you to provide them flexibility and choices. Helping create healthy boundaries is an intelligent way to combat forcefully established boundaries that hamper performance.

3) Create a sense of purpose in work

In order to keep their employees engaged, managers must ensure that the work they assign has a sense of purpose. They can do this by tying what the employee is doing with the team’s mission and objectives. When this connection is clear, it will motivate the employees to do better and continue working hard. It also creates intrinsic satisfaction from completing something meaningful rather than just a job.

Employees often feel like they are wasting their time working on tasks without clear objectives or meaning. For employees to stay motivated, there should be a connection between their work and their passion outside of work. Managers can accomplish this by regularly challenging employees to do their best and pushing them to think outside the box. Working with a sense of purpose instills intrinsic motivation, leading employees to feel satisfaction from completing tasks rather than just fulfilling a job requirement.

4) Stop micromanaging your people

The connection may not be evident at first – but constant disruptions in workflow by irrelevant questions raised by managers can be pretty annoying for employees. The simple result of this habit is that employees stop coming up with new ideas and changes because they fear the barrage of questions awaiting them upon proposing something new. Resultantly, employees remain within the defined scope of their jobs. In effect, a manager’s efforts to engage might unintentionally promote quiet quitting in the workplace. 

Autonomy carries crucial significance in the workplace. In the absence of independence, accountability falls on teams. Moreover, the employees are robbed of opportunities to explore, which would have added motivation to their routines. Therefore, managers need to avoid micromanaging their teams. 

As we saw in the example, micromanagement can sometimes be unintended and appear harmless. The difference between questions that connect managers with their teams and those that cause unwanted disruptions is a thin line, which can be hard to notice. But, crossing this line can have a significant detrimental impact on your team’s productivity. That is why you should take the free micromanagement assessment to understand where you stand. Risely’s free micromanagement assessment helps you analyze your micromanaging habits in detail. Further, after understanding your approach, you can take the help of other resources like blogs and free toolkits to fine-tune your managerial style for the best results for your team! 

Conclusion

Quiet quitting is a trending problem among employees that has serious consequences. By understanding the causes and effects of quiet quitting, you can help stop this disaster. In order to prevent quiet quitting in your team, start taking steps now to build a resilient culture. If you feel that a team member is quietly quitting, reach out to them and offer support. You can stop quiet quitting from taking over your team and ruining morale and your team’s performance!

Are you micromanaging your team?
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Risely’s free micromanagement self-assessment helps managers learn where they stand on the micromanagement spectrum.

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