The term “Quiet Quitting” has been making headlines all over the Internet and has become quite a controversial topic. Is this phenomenon a good thing? Or is it a bad thing?
Arianna Huffington (co-founder of the Huffington Post) believes that quiet quitting “isn’t just about quitting on a job, “it’s a step toward quitting on life.”
Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary called quiet quitting a horrible approach to building a career, stating that employees should always go above and beyond because that’s “how you achieve success.”
So what exactly is “Quiet Quitting” and why exactly has it become such a trending topic of discussion?
While the term itself is relatively new, the concept itself is not. In essence, quiet quitting describes the idea of “quitting” going above and beyond at work. The phrase has gained traction on Tiktok after @zaidleppelin shared his thoughts.
“You’re not outright quitting your job, just quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You’re still performing your duties, but you’re not subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life…Your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.” - @zaidleppelin
To date, #quietquitting has over 144.2 million views on TikTok. Quiet quitting has come to mean different things for different people.
On one end of the spectrum, it is seen as a rebellion against corporate America’s hustle culture and encouraging people not to go above and beyond at the expense of their own health and well-being. It’s seen as a necessary way to avoid burnout at work by drawing clear boundaries and stop saying “yes” to things, especially when you have an already overwhelming amount of responsibilities. It's a call, especially from Millennials and Gen Z to end toxic hustle culture and the idea that only by living to work can a person be successful and their work worthy of recognition and admiration.
On the other end of the spectrum, likely where Ariana Huffington and Kevin O’Leary stand, quiet quitting is a term that screams laziness and mediocracy, and it’s a stark refusal to do better and be better. Articles note that the most common key “symptoms” of quiet quitting that managers should watch out for are employees turning down new projects, being less proactive in volunteering for tasks or being too busy to help out their team members.
As a leader in an organization, what stance should you take?
For many of us, the rhetoric that hard work equates to being a good person is hard to shake off. As a society, we tend to tie our self-worth and sense of identity to our job.
If you’re shaking your head and denying this habit, think about how you introduce yourself to a new person. Does the introduction include your job title or company name?
It’s also hard to ignore the fact that hustle culture and the constant emphasis on productivity can be quite draining and unsustainable, leading to high turnover and employee retention issues. In an article by Headversity, it explains that hustle culture puts the body in a state of fight or flight. This constant stress releases the stress hormone—cortisol—in higher amounts and for more prolonged periods. To normalize these elevated cortisol levels, the body must enter a state of rest. But hustle culture is putting the message out to everyone that there is no time for rest, leaving burnout to be inevitable.
We expect ourselves and our colleagues to go above and beyond, giving 110% to their jobs every day. Why is it not enough for people to do what they were hired to do?
There are 3 main lessons from this Quiet Quitting Trend to help employees thrive.
We’ve all heard of the “Great Resignation” and the “Great Reshuffle”; concepts describing this trend of employees leaving their work in droves to find a job that aligns more closely with their lifestyles. This is especially prevalent in industries where there’s traditionally less flexibility and predictability (e.g. hospitality and retail).
All the chaos around the pandemic has really affected the way people look at the balance between work and their personal lives. What people want from work and what they’re willing to give in return has fundamentally changed; people’s priorities have shifted.
“People are finding jobs that give them the right pay, benefits and work arrangements in the longer term. There’s now a greater ability for people to fit work into their lives, instead of having lives that squeeze into their work.”- Anthony Klotz, Associate Professor of Management, Texas A&M University
92% of the people who voluntarily left their job in the first quarter of 2020 felt that "life is too short to stay in a job they weren't passionate about." As managers and organizational leaders, we need to make sure that our company structure, policies, and culture reflect this understanding of shifted priorities. This includes offering flexibility where possible and trusting employees to do their jobs without being able to see them in the office.
It’s time we all embraced the mentality of working to live and not living to work.
“This idea that work is work, and your life should be separate from it, was really kind of a fiction, right? We're all people. And employees should be valued, not just as a part of the machine.”- Scott Behson, author of “The Whole Person Workplace”
Building a company culture that aligns with the Great Reprioritization means embracing the Whole Person Workplace philosophy.
What is a Whole Person Workplace?
It’s a mentality that acknowledges that individuals have lives, stressors, challenges, priorities, and things that they value outside of work and are encouraged and supported to bring more of themselves to work. After all, who we are outside of work doesn’t just disappear when we clock into work.
Maybe we’re struggling to pay rent, or we’re having serious health issues - that stress doesn’t completely go away and can really impact our happiness and productivity during work hours. A study by Colonial Life shows that 41% of workers say stress has caused a drop in work productivity.
Another way to think about this idea is with the metaphor of an invisible backpack. Imagine going through your entire day wearing a heavy backpack - this causes physical strain and makes it harder to get things done. The invisible backpack is a metaphor for all the worries we carry around with us. Carrying this stress around is like having a huge weight on your back.
Wouldn’t it be great if companies could help take some of the weight from employees’ invisible backpacks and help people thrive?
A Whole Person Workplace implements policies and processes that honor both an employee's work and personal life, embracing their complete identity and numerous roles. This should also be reflected in a company’s culture. Some examples of company initiatives could be:
Embracing and creating a Whole Person Workplace doesn't have to happen overnight; employers can work with their team - a few steps at a time - to understand what they want and need to create a culture that welcomes the whole individual every day.
Employee recognition is a powerful tool in helping people feel engaged in the workplace. In fact, 79% of employees report that they would stop quiet quitting if they were given more recognition at work.
These expressions of appreciation are a unique form of communication within a company, as it puts a bright spotlight on the recognitions being shared. Employee recognitions show the rest of the team what the desired behaviors are for a particular workplace. As such, success should not be equated to the amount of time someone spends working but rather to the outcomes of their work.
Putting a focus on increased hours and giving little room for breaks perpetuates a workplace culture with high burnout rates, which will likely lead to high levels of employee unhappiness and turnover. Giving employee recognition for the number of hours worked is an outdated practice that needs to be changed.
Of course, if a colleague does put in some extra hours to help a project meet its deadlines, appreciation should be given. However, there are ways to reframe employee recognition so that it’s clear that it’s not something the company takes for granted and that it’s not a behaviour that’s necessary to get a promotion or bonus. Here are some ideas:
But why stop at recognizing people for the awesome work they’re doing at work? Why not celebrate our colleagues’ personal milestones together?
Giving the team opportunities to celebrate each other’s good news is a strategic way to form genuine human connections. Personal milestones don’t need to be limited to engagements, anniversaries, graduation, birthdays, or new family members. Achieving a weekly goal, a life-long dream, or knocking off a bucket list item are equally exciting things that should be celebrated.
Employee recognitions don’t need to be reserved for grandiose or “worthy” happenings. Often, we tend to focus on recognizing what the other person did and not how it made us feel. Anything that brings a note of positivity or makes a difference in your day is worthy of a recognition.
And so, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, and the spirit of gratitude in the wind, I challenge you to be freer with the act of recognition and offer up appreciation for the things that make you feel more connected to yourself and the world around you. Give someone a shout-out for a good chat, sharing their hobbies or interests with you, a funny joke or uplifting quote, suggesting an activity that brought you joy…
29% of employees report not receiving recognition for their work every year. Adopting this mentality is what creates a successful Culture of Recognition where employees habitually offer up meaningful appreciation for the people around them.
At its core, this trend of quiet quitting indicates a shift in employee priorities and urges us to change how we think about work. Every aspect of our lives - both professional and personal - takes up space in our minds. It’s important to redraw some lines so that our goals and dreams outside of work are being fulfilled as well.
“The term 'quiet quitting' is so offensive, because it suggests that people that do their work have somehow quit their job, framing workers as some sort of villain in an equation where they're doing exactly what they were told.” - Ed Zitron, Founder & CEO of EZPR
So let’s call it something else. I’m open to suggestions.
Want to see how Bucketlist Rewards' company recognition program can help you to boost employee engagement and reduce voluntary turnover? Contact us today for a free demo. We’d love to help you build a culture of appreciation!