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Quiet quitting is a new term for a phenomenon that has been around almost as long as there has been a workforce. It’s a phrase used to describe when employees start doing the bare minimum, the least they can do while at work. They don’t come right out and refuse to participate; they just begin to coast below the radar.

To some people, quiet quitting seems like employees being lazy or not doing their fair share while to other it’s a silent form of rebellion against what appears to be unreasonable demands. Staff members stop going the extra mile, quit checking their work for quality and accuracy, no longer volunteer for new responsibilities and show up physically but not mentally.

It’s bad for everyone. Quiet quitting costs the employer in terms of productivity and workplace culture. Disengaged employees may eventually hand in their actual resignation notice. Staff members feel frustrated, ignored, unappreciated and stagnant.

Just because quiet quitting is trending on TikTok doesn’t mean it has to sweep through your workplace. Let’s take a look at the underlying causes and identify how to prevent it.

Understand What Drives Quiet Quitting

Humanity has undergone an unprecedented collective experience that is still impacting emotions at work and at home. In a recent Gallup poll, 44% of the world’s workers said they experienced worry, stress, anger and sadness during the previous work day. They’re worn down by life in general, and with the daily grind especially.

Employees are more likely to engage in quiet quitting when they feel like a psychological contract has been broken. When most people are hired, they have expectations about what a job will be like that go beyond what’s in a written job offer. They want more than just a salary, insurance and vacation days.

They want to feel valued for what they contribute and supported toward reaching the type of future they envision for themselves. When they feel like their work is interesting and challenging and their pay is on par with their abilities, they are willing to give 100%.

When they feel like an employer doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, employees feel they shouldn’t have to do any more than the bare minimum. They feel disillusioned, let down, and sometimes invisible. Employers can improve relationships and reduce quiet quitting by making sure to set realistic outlooks from the beginning.

Communicate Realistic Expectations

Recruiters and hiring managers want to attract the best possible candidates, so they understandably talk up all the best things about the job. From the outside looking in things might look rosier than they actually are.

Have conversations about what a typical day, week or month might look like, with details on concrete expectations for the first 30, 60, 90 days and first year. Be clear about both the positives and the negatives so both sides know what they require from the other.

Recognize Achievements

One of the biggest reasons people say they become disengaged is that they don’t feel like their effort is appreciated. If no one notices what they do, why do anything at all?

Look for ways to express appreciation for how each part contributes to the whole. Point out the fact that Daniel always meets deadlines, enabling projects to move on to the next phase. Acknowledge the sacrifices you know Mary must have made when she stepped in to cover for a sick co-worker even though it’s the beginning of the school year and she has four young children and a spouse who is frequently out of town for business. Pick up coffee for the team you know burned the midnight oil when a job’s requirements suddenly changed.

Make public recognition a regular part of meetings. Solicit input from employees on what they appreciate most about their co-workers. Consider giving peer nominated awards or recognition.

Provide Sustainable Workloads & Competitive Wages

Hiring and retaining the right people has been tough the last few years, and in many workplaces, a cycle has developed. Committed employees do double duty to fill gaps hoping open positions will soon be filled and workloads will become manageable again. Some new hires work out, but not all of them stick around.

The staff that remains can quickly become burned out, overextended and jaded. Plus, inflation and the tight labor market have caused many employers to increase starting salaries, and it rubs people the wrong way when new hires start out close to what they’ve been working up to for years.

If you must ask more of your employees, either keep the workload increase short-term or reevaluate your agreement with those staff members. If they’re willing to take on more, give them an appropriate promotion and pay raise.

Hire for Fit

At Brelsford Personnel, we find candidates that have the skills you need and who also fit into your company culture. Learn more about our services for employers here.