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What employers can do to address “quiet quitting”

Wende Ascher | Nov. 29, 2022

The world of work is undergoing a historic transformation, and with it comes new phrases that attempt to define the moment. Think: the Great Resignation, the “Why I Quit” Era, and the like. A new term has emerged this year and recently took social media — as well as mainstream media — by storm: quiet quitting.

Quiet quitting can be viewed from several different opposing angles. Proponents (mostly young professionals just starting out in their careers) believe that by doing the bare minimum in their jobs and rejecting “hustle culture” (another hot workplace topic), they can have a better work-life balance. This concept comes in the wake of the pandemic, which shed light on the importance of boundary setting and self-care. 
What started as a TikTok trend is now being taken seriously by perceptive employers — and rightfully so. This “anti-work” phenomenon is real — at least half of all U.S. employees report resorting to quiet quitting in a recent Gallup poll. It’s another sign that the workplace can be reimagined to increase employee engagement, productivity, and a better, more balanced workplace, all of which benefits the company bottom line.

The all-important employee experience

It’s essential to note that a good quality of life is the #1 priority for workers today (according to a the JLL Workforce Preferences Barometer 2022), followed closely by working for a company an employee feels supports their health and wellbeing, factors that skyrocketed in the wake of the pandemic. Both of these needs outweigh making a good salary and receiving recognition and rewards. The employee experience matters most to today’s workers. 
So, what can employers do to address the concept of “quiet quitting” in their own workplaces?

As in any healthy relationship, communication is key. It’s imperative that an employer consider the individual perspectives, viewpoints, and needs of their reports. And, it’s especially important for business leaders to acknowledge the current state of the average worker.

Employees are looking to their organizations to solve problems created over the past few years, which upended traditional work routines and altered the expectations of the office. This represents a monumental shift in the traditional social contract of work, but one that can have a long-lasting positive impact for the organization. When viewed as an opportunity rather than a roadblock, companies can unlock energy and innovation by centering their strategies around the employee experience and redesigning work and the workplace for a new age.

Invest in your human capital

In a survey by Gloat Research Group, more than half of employees say their current role doesn’t make good use of their skills, while a McKinsey report reveals that the top reason people left their jobs last year was a lack of career development and advancement. 
Organizations that will succeed in the future of work must fundamentally change the way they think about the workplace, demonstrating that their people come first. Leaders can jump start these initiatives by creating access to learning and development opportunities and internal job mobility. 

When people feel stuck in their job roles, it perpetuates a culture of quiet quitting. But by investing in their workers and their futures, organizations can effectively empower employees to steer their own careers.

Is RTO the answer? 

Employers may think that a wholesale return to the office will stop quiet quitting in its tracks. However, in a McKinsey survey, 87% of workers will take the chance to work remotely if offered (this goes back to the pervasive quality of life issue). Of course, return-to-the-office plans are specific to not only each company, but each department, each job role, and each individual. 
As organizations rethink their relationship to the office, now’s the time to create workspaces that are more conducive to a healthier and more equitable working environment. Aspects such as workplace choice (when and where employees can choose to work), enhanced health and safety measures, ergonomic design, advanced technology, and privacy are all attractive measures companies can take to entice employees to return.

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