Quiet Quitting is, according to dictionary.com, ‘the practice of reducing the amount of effort one devotes to one’s job’.
Creating boundaries at work, limiting or stopping the tasks you take on outside your job description, rebelling against the hustle culture of the early 2000’s and 1990’s – quiet quitting isn’t anything new. It has, however, taken on a whole new meaning in the wake of the Great Resignation and COVID-19.
What quiet quitting is not is making a paper plane out of your resignation letter and flying it into your bosses office whilst wearing slippers. It’s not actually about quitting your job. It’s about understanding your role responsibilities – and doing no more.
No late nights, no extra tasks, no phone calls from clients on the weekend, no extras. Yes, you still turn up to work. Yes, you are engaged. Yes, you complete the tasks as directed by your job description. And that’s it. Our work, the job, the effort we put into a company or a role, does not actually define us.
Quiet quitting is a philosophy that places a whole lot more emphasis on the ‘life’ side of work/life balance.
However, there is another aspect. Quiet quitting has also been red flagged as describing those in the workplace who are emotionally on the out. They’re dissatisfied with their current role, not really engaged with their job and on the lookout for the next. Or they are considering a career change as the last couple of years has given them time to rethink their goals/life plan. Or they’re simply biding time/saving money before quitting for real to live out their life on an eco-sanctuary in a forest somewhere.
Quiet quitting also puts a strain on other employees who may feel the need to pick up the slack. But it could also offer opportunities to employees who not only pick up the slack, but demonstratively step it up and are noticed and rewarded for it.
Now we understand what it is, what does quiet quitting mean for employers? In any of the above scenarios, quiet quitting has a major impact on employers and businesses. Indeed, it is affecting the entire global workforce. Employers are investing considerably more in employee wellbeing and stress management programmes to stop burnout and disengagement of their staff.
Unemployment in New Zealand is at a record low at 3.3%, but is this necessarily a good thing? There’s a labour shortage across the board with some industries doing it harder than others, hospitality for example. Skilled workers in the technology sector, experienced BAs, developers, and project managers are few and far between and candidates are reaping the rewards. Contracting is hot, working long hours for low pay is not.
Employers are under pressure to invest in employee experience and have to offer more than just competitive packages. They have to think about how to make their workplace more desirable. Are they providing a ‘great place to work’? Do they offer remote or work from home options? Is there an onsite childcare facility?
In this fickle labour market, employers are finding it harder to find and retain good people, not because they’re not there – but the competition is fierce, and employees are being wooed by more life/work balance -focused companies.
Regardless of the reason, the fact is that there is shift in how people want to work and how they value their time. And whether they are quietly quitting, or rethinking their career, or leaving the corporate world to knit jerseys for free-range chickens, the workforce is less inclined to live to work. They want to live. They want more from life, by doing less.
So, maybe the question isn’t ‘how do we stop our people from quiet quitting?’ Maybe the question should be, ‘how do we support our people’s life/work balance?’