Company Culture Changes to Prevent Quiet Quitting
The term “quiet quitting” was coined on social media in the spring of 2022, and by the summer it had become a viral phenomenon that had the whole business world talking. Some say the concept is as old as employment itself, while others point to millennials and Gen Z for its prevalence in the workplace. Either way, its presence speaks to the health of company culture and serves as a checkpoint for business performance improvements.
In order to evaluate your company’s rate of quiet quitting and address the root problems at the source, it’s important to understand what quiet quitting is and why employees partake in it. The performance experts trained in the Achieve System’s performance improvement methodology go further than traditional management consultants. Instead, they specialize in helping organizations achieve high performance and optimize culture transformation within the workplace. Read on for their take on quiet quitting, why it happens, and how to get your team back on track.
What is Quiet Quitting?
Quiet quitting is the idea of expending just enough effort at work to avoid getting fired. Employees who embrace this idea do exactly their job description and no more, accomplishing the bare minimum tasks without taking on more responsibility or looking for opportunities to excel. According to Gallup, at least 50% of the U.S. workforce are quiet quitting, and the percentage of employees actively disengaging has risen to 18%.
Quiet quitting is the direct opposite of the “hustle culture” that predominated the 2010s until roughly the start of the pandemic. Hustle culture glamorized the grind, as young adults in particular encouraged each other to work harder, faster, and longer. It celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit that kept workers at their desks long past closing time, regarded time off as laziness, and viewed personal time as a chance to brainstorm for work. People who engaged in hustle culture were endlessly striving for personal performance improvements, and they were never satisfied with their progress.
Quiet quitting, on the other hand, encourages employees to give their employers exactly as much as they must to avoid actively causing problems, but no more. They arrive no earlier than 9 a.m. and clock out at 5 p.m. on the dot, offer minimal participation in meetings and brainstorming sessions, refrain from taking on additional tasks, and lack passion or pride in their work. They don’t aim to reduce team performance as a whole, but one disengaged member can set off a negative culture transformation that affects the whole group’s productivity and drive nonetheless. It’s the other side of the coin to hustle culture — and peak performance lies somewhere in between.
How to Recognize Quiet Quitting in Your Company Culture
Quiet quitting can be tricky to recognize at first, since employees complete enough of their tasks to avoid drawing attention to themselves. The most noticeable signs are decreased participation in meetings and brainstorming sessions and a lack of engagement with teammates. Quiet quitters tend to keep to themselves, not making an effort to network or socialize — although they still might help out specific teammates in need.
From there, keep an eye out for employees who are distracted and unmotivated, indifferent to the team’s goals, and disconnected from your company’s values. Their productivity will drop, although they will make sure it doesn’t nosedive, and they will stop volunteering for more responsibilities or taking opportunities for performance improvements.
It’s important to note what isn’t quiet quitting, as well as what is. Employees who need a break, ask for help, request a lighter workload, or take a few days off aren’t necessarily quiet quitting, especially if they bring these issues to their supervisor’s attention and try to keep them from affecting team performance. Quiet quitting isn’t about being overwhelmed or getting behind schedule — it’s primarily a mindset issue. Similarly, while it may share some characteristics with burnout (lack of motivation, loss of focus, reduced performance), burnout is a natural reaction to chronic stress, not a chosen mindset. There can certainly be an overlap between the two, but one isn’t necessarily an indicator of the other.
Reasons for Quiet Quitting
This phenomenon stems from a variety of factors, ranging from poor company culture to the economic climate. You may have noticed the emergence of several corporate buzzwords one after another since mid-2020: burnout, the Great Resignation, and now quiet quitting. In the wake of the pandemic, the workplace underwent a massive culture transformation that caused employees and employers alike to reconsider their goals and expectations for their working environment. The trending terms grew in popularity as a way to discuss these shifting needs and philosophies.
Quiet quitting is one such philosophy that gained traction during these turbulent times. On the cusp of a projected economic downturn, the quiet quitting trend takes a more cautious route than the Great Resignation. Though employees may still desire higher pay, a better work-life balance, or more fulfilling work, they choose to hold on to the security of their current job. Some employees may be saving their time and energy for side hustles or actively looking for other jobs while quiet quitting, but others may have decided to unhappily stick with the job they have.
So what triggers quiet quitters’ dissatisfaction with their current job to begin with? By studying companies before and after implementing our performance improvement methodology, our performance experts have found that misalignment with their employer is often the root of the issue. Many quiet quitters don’t connect with the purpose of their organization, making the work feel passionless and empty. They may also feel like they aren’t receiving opportunities to learn and grow in their role, making them feel like their organization doesn’t care about them and their career goals. To top it off, a lack of connection with their managers, especially unclear expectations and poor communication, can make them feel like they’re set up for failure, leading them to give up on personally investing in their work.
Team Performance Improvements to Prevent Quiet Quitting
While factors like the pandemic and economic health are beyond any employer’s control, there are still measures available to make the work more fulfilling, worthwhile, and valuable to the employee. Our performance experts offer their top tips on how to re-engage employees and drive high performance.
Drive a High-Performance Company Culture Through Leadership Engagement
Managers have the ability to lead, shape, and grow employee engagement — as long as they are engaged themselves. Encourage team leaders to have meaningful conversations with the people they oversee. Communication between managers and employees should consist of more than just check-ins on the status of their work; managers should get to know employees’ goals, discover which parts of the job they like and dislike, ask what path they want their careers to take, and how they plan to get there.
When supervisors know and understand the people they oversee, they have a greater understanding of how to keep them engaged or re-engage them if they’re already falling behind. They can offer them more of their preferred tasks, discuss how assignments correlate with both their career goals and the company’s goals and help them feel connected to the purpose of the work. When leaders are tuned in to the employee experience, not just focused on reaching desired outcomes, they can monitor and build employee engagement to create a high-performance culture transformation where everyone can thrive.
Deliver on Promises to Achieve Team Performance Improvements
In order for employees to invest in your company, they have to be able to trust you. Empty words and short-lived changes aren’t enough to convince a checked-out worker to care — you have to show them you can live up to your words. Evaluate past promises you’ve made, from company culture to career advancement opportunities, and see if you’ve held up on your end. Making a change has to be more than just another promise. Instead, plan out how you will reach your desired outcomes and start implementing the first steps immediately.
Implement the Achieve System’s Performance Improvement Methodology
The best way to initiate a true workplace culture transformation and drive high performance is to Create, Don’t Fix your culture. The Achieve System was developed to translate the mental practices used by world-class athletes into a methodology for businesses to reach high performance and optimize their operations for success. It unlocks creativity, drives innovation, and jump-starts team performance and engagement. Check out our case studies to see how our methodology works on businesses like yours, and contact us to get started.