Quiet Quitting is a new expression to me, but what it stands for is familiar. Disengagement in any relationship, whether it is platonic, romantic or professional, is usually regarded as unhealthy. It happens when rather than calling it quits, you stay on and do what is required, but without the enthusiasm or passion that would make it a thriving environment. Why is detachment at work trending and what does it mean for your company?
Disengagement is a negative sentiment, but one would hope that it is the exception to the rule. There surely is a reason why someone chooses this route. To cope, to set boundaries or for self-preservation based on negative past experiences, for instance. According to workforce consultants, Gallup, however, “Quiet quitters” make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce – probably more…” Well, that sounds like a problem, doesn’t it? I always feel so blessed with how keen my colleagues are, but it is not something to take for granted. According to this article by Jim Harter, the workplace can easily be an unfriendly environment for younger workers with disengagement as the result. He says it is up to management to change this trend.
We often talk about the work ethic of younger generations – only doing what they’re paid for, not walking the extra mile… Does this make them disengaged or is this just managing a good work / life balance? What are our expectations of employees when it comes to enthusiasm and investment? Can it be that young employees feel like they don’t fit in? Perhaps company cultures, management styles and work environments are not keeping up with the times? Perhaps the lack of commitment and investment at work are less about personality and generational trends and more about company culture?
The whole idea of getting a secure job, being loyal and staying at one company for most of your life has changed completely. Starting at the bottom, working your way up and earning that promotion or increase, also seem to be a sentiment of the past. Today’s trend for immediate gratification does not leave much space for ideas like mentorship and on-the-job-training. Perhaps young people today value their contribution more than we did when we were young. Perhaps it is not necessarily about being lazy or uninterested, just having different priorities? Expecting enthusiasm and passion from employees does not imply exploitation. Can it be, however, that companies have been taking dedicated and loyal employees for granted?
Hard-working, committed employees are a definite asset to any company. Engaged employees care about the company and try their best to ensure success. Disengaged workers might still show up and tick the boxes, but this negative sentiment doesn’t only affect their own performance but also the company culture. What are clear signs of disengagement at work? (Read more)
- Decreased productivity
- Social withdrawal
- Less competitive, goal-orientated or interested in progress
- Slack attitude, increased absenteeism
- Less reliable
- Not eager to learn
Such conduct obviously results in the employee feeling even less motivated, less part of the team and only increases negative thoughts and behaviour. But what are the key reasons for employees joining the community of quiet quitters? Seems like a lack of camaraderie, recognition, purpose and growth are important reasons. According to this article on fond.co, management can’t necessarily be held responsible for employee disengagement, but they can play a very important role in ensuring their team stays motivated. “Managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement.”
The Harvest Business Review’s data indicates that “… quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees…” The report continues to identify trust as the most important issue when it comes to engaged employees. Trust is the result of a positive relationship between the manager and his/her team, it can be found when leaders are consistent and honest and when managers are deemed to be experts, on top of all aspects of their work and able to bring clarity.
Our new environment has many challenges. Covid made working from home more acceptable and while this may lead to increased productivity for some, it might also be more of a challenge to manage or motivate your team or to feel part of a company community. Perhaps the motivation to work hard and earn more has also changed. Providing for a young family was a very good reason for a better income when I was young. Many young people today, however, stay with their parents until later in life. Without loans to repay or a family dependent on your income, perhaps promotions and increases at work might be less of an incentive? There are also many alternatives – you don’t necessarily have to work for a boss or in a structured environment.
The current tough economic climate might change things again. When you feel the pinch financially, it might encourage you to be more serious about your job. You might realise that what is good for the company might also be good for you. Perhaps it will encourage workers to be more involved and creative.
I’m not saying that life is all about your job. When your work and personal life are not in balance, chances are that you’ll become overworked, disgruntled and unhappy. Having said that, companies must ensure a positive environment that keeps up with trends and expectations. Being a manager can’t just signal the end of your progression at a company, it should be about being capable and leading your team with EQ. In this way, I think and hope, that it would be a challenge for employees to become disengaged.