The peak of “quiet quitting” supposedly occurred in 2022, but a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in June 2023 found that 44% of UK workers were willing to go above and beyond in their roles, down from 54% in 2022. This suggests that quiet quitting is still on the rise, as some experts believe the trend may be continuing, with a growing number of workers no longer willing to put in extra effort for their employers.
In this blog post: we’ll explore how to prevent quiet quitting, its impact on organisations, and practical strategies leaders can implement to foster an inclusive and supportive work environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute their best selves.
What is quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting refers to the subtle disengagement and withdrawal of employees who feel undervalued, unheard, or disconnected from their work and organisation. These employees may still physically show up, but mentally and emotionally, they have already checked out.
The impact of quiet quitting on your organisation’s performance
An employee who has already mentally disengaged from the organisation is doing the bare minimum, avoiding risking their position, but offering no discretionary effort beyond that required to discharge their duties in an acceptable manner.
Unfortunately, discretionary effort is a hidden and often overlooked driver of organisational performance. A poll by Gallup found that engaged employees are 21% more productive than their disengaged counterparts. Another study by Willis Towers Watson found that organisations with a high degree of employee engagement were 28% more profitable than those with low levels of engagement.
It’s clear that quiet quitting is damaging organisations in terms of both productivity and profitability. In an economic climate where there continues to be a focus on doing more with less, and the war for talent is well and truly still raging, quiet quitters are having a damaging effect on organisational performance and the ability to meet goals.
HR and leadership have an impact on quiet quitting
The past three years have accelerated the impact of HR and leadership on organisations. We have seen more of a need for HR professionals and leaders to provide employees with a nurturing and supportive environment whilst society has been facing an unprecedented health, social, and geopolitical polycrisis.
As a leader, it’s essential to acknowledge and address these challenges. Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment becomes even more crucial during times of economic uncertainty.
Quit-quitting is on the rise
Reports that job vacancies have plunged, indicating an impending recession, will naturally increase cases of quit-quitting. Many individuals will feel hesitant to take the gamble of pursuing a new job, fearing the potential risks and instability that come with it. The thought of starting a new role, going through a probationary period, and potentially facing job insecurity can be daunting, especially when financial responsibilities, such as mortgages and bills, will weigh heavily on their minds.
This will lead to more quiet quitting, with people wanting to leave their current organisation but not feeling able to take the leap; they’ll simply go through the motions to avoid getting fired, and will quietly coast in their current roles until they can find something better. They may lack motivation, become disengaged, and ultimately deliver subpar performance. The cycle of unhappiness and unfulfillment perpetuates, negatively impacting both the individual and the organisation.
10 ways to prevent your team from quietly quitting
As a leader, it’s crucial to recognise the signs of quiet quitting and take proactive steps to prevent it from undermining the productivity and morale of a team.
Employees who feel fulfilled don’t quiet quit
The first element of our ‘Salesperson’s Secret Code’, fulfilment is a state of satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve either achieved, or are on track to shift performance from good, to better, to best.
For high achievers, this is almost a hygiene factor as they are constantly measuring and evaluating themselves to be the best they can.
It is the responsibility of the organisation to ensure people can find this sense of fulfilment.
- Communicate clear targets and align them to personal goals and/or KPIs.
- Celebrate and/or reward excellent performance to reinforce the individuals’ sense of achievement.
In order for your people to satisfy their desire for fulfilment, opportunities need to be available to them. They link this feeling inextricably with success and a combination of fear of failure and a desire to be the best version of themselves drives them.
Taken to the extreme, this requirement to feel fulfilled by their career is similar to the Japanese concept of ‘kaizen’, where nothing is ever so good that it can’t be continually improved. The job of the competitive organisation is therefore to ensure this improvement can be found within its own structure and not by moving on.
Employees who feel in control don’t quiet quit
Are your people in control? A tension will always exist between leaders and high-performing team members. A good leader will recognise that balance is needed to ensure their top talent can ‘have their head’ while remaining a team player. A poor leader will feel threatened and try to stem the control of anyone in a lower rank.
However, there are several ways organisations can handle control – or perhaps the distribution of it – to keep employees engaged and motivated:
- Allow people to help shape the overall direction of travel. This, of course, refers to a collaborative approach to leadership and goal setting, as opposed to being directive.
- Empower decision making and therefore add to individuals’ sense of accountability, responsibility and purpose. This approach also creates efficiency at all levels of leadership by alleviating traditional bureaucracy and bottlenecks.
- Invest in jointly created development plans for team members to illustrate their responsibility for their own destiny (an important driver in people satisfying their need for control) You can read more on how effective succession planning feeds into talent retention in our recent blog.
Employees who feel influential don’t quiet quit
Do your people have influence? One of the most effective ways for high performers to experience true personal growth is by building and better leveraging their own network for opportunities. With the right approach, organisations can ensure these opportunities are sales-related, for the benefit of their bottom line, and not employment-related, opening up a new and more exciting future for their star players.
- Implement a positive culture, fuelled by a growth mindset, to help your people become more resilient. It is resilience that brings confidence and, ultimately, builds their ability to influence others. In sales, influence is a big thing. It opens doors within customer organisations, gets appointments in diaries, and wins business.
- Exercising influence isn’t something your high performers will save for their external connections. An organisation that wants to create a motivated, highly-valued workforce needs to be open to the concept that they will be influenced themselves. Enabling a collaborative environment, where individuals can contribute to processes or ways of working, and subsequently encouraging and rewarding this innovation, is a demonstrative way to show people they can exert influence in a constructive and positive way.
Focus on communication to keep your people from quiet quitting
Is communication a priority for you? It runs through everything we’ve mentioned so far but is so critical to building a positive working environment, it has to have its own mention.
Communication is important in several ways when it comes to retaining the right people:
- Often, emotions and communication go hand in hand. Showing your people that you can handle the difficult conversations, stay clear when change is taking place, be accountable for successes and failures, all helps build a culture of authenticity. Don’t forget being open needs to start at the top and the quiet quitter is notable for one thing: silence.
- We’ve mentioned collaborative, open style of leadership and each of these has communication at its heart. Remember that communication doesn’t always refer to the big, wide audience stuff. The day-to-day conversations are equally, if not more, important as it is these that make people feel noticed.
- Finally, language is an important part of communication but can be overlooked (or even hidden behind). Refrain from using too much jargon or ‘corporate speak’ and engage with people in a human and inclusive way. You’ll get far more respect and far less fear of the unknown or misunderstood.
We hope you find these 10 tips helpful! If you’re ready to transform your workplace do contact us today to discover how we can help you create a thriving and motivated workforce. Together, we’ll unlock the full potential of your organisation.
For more on discretionary effort, read our blog here.