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Quiet Quitting in the Workplace

There is a new trend occurring in the last year in the workplace called quiet quieting. We will be exploring the definition of quiet quitting, why this trend occurred, signs to look out for, and why companies should be concerned about this. 

What Is Quiet Quitting? 

Quiet quitting refers to doing the bare minimum requirements for your job, putting in no more time, effort, or passion than is absolutely necessary. Quiet quitting does not mean that the employee has left the job, but that has limited tasks completed to what is strictly in the job description in order to avoid working longer hours.

The idea of silent quitting suggests a norm in which individuals are expected to do additional, usually undesirable tasks beyond the scope of their job description, and in which failure to perform additional tasks is considered a form of quitting ones job. For some, quiet quitting means setting boundaries and not taking on additional work; for others, it simply means not going overboard. Driven by many of the same basic factors as outright resignation, quiet quitting involves choosing not to work on tasks outside ones assigned duties, and/or becoming less mentally invested in ones job.

From an office standpoint, silent quitting may lead to conflicts among employees, since some employees will perceive that others are not pulling their weight. Others fear quiet quitting is too passive-aggressive, fails to achieve the goals workers actually desire, and puts extra pressure on colleagues. Other factors driving interest in silent quitting could be that many members of Generation Z do not feel they have a future with the organizations currently employing them.

Why This Trend Occurred? 

The trends towards silent quitting–the notion that is spreading virally through social media that millions are not going above and beyond in their jobs, but are simply fulfilling the description of the jobs millions have–may get worse. Skeptics dispute these numbers, and they wonder whether quiet quitting is a new trend, or simply the new fashionable term for workers discontent. Overall, the Gallup data does not actually indicate any significant change in the way workers view their jobs in recent years, suggesting quiet quitting may be a regular feature of the American workplace.

The 1-on-1 poll found that 72% of HR professionals had witnessed silent quitting among younger workers, and hourly workers were the group that was the most likely to display behaviors associated with silent quitting.

Gallup has recently conducted a survey on silent quitting, counting workers who reported being either not engaged or actively disengaged from their job. Quitting quietly has drawn attention to what seems like pretty widespread unhappiness among American workers, which employers may have a responsibility to address.

Just as the national shortage of teachers is a overblown trend pointing to a locus of real phenomena (declining teacher job satisfaction), quiet quitting is a piece of fabrication that could substitute for long-standing labor problems, like union underrepresentation or the deep American push toward careerism. If quiet quitting is bogus, then the popularity of anti-work neologisms is its own data point, and deserves serious consideration as a cultural phenomenon. Or for it to eclipse Quiet Firing Trend, in which companies passively and actively cause the lives of their employees to become miserable at work, and Quiet Fleecing, in which workers wages have lagged behind their increased productivity over decades.

In fact, quiet firing has become its own buzzword, typically defined as making work so discomfiting an employee feels forced to quit. Quiet firing describes the managers side of a silent resignation, where the boss fails to offer the employees career encouragement and development, says Ben Wierth, research director for workplace management research and strategies at Gallup, who has studied this issue.

Signs Of Quiet Quitting

Quitting quietly signs may come in different forms, depending on why an employee wants to step away from the job. The challenge for employees who engage in quiet quitting is that it can translate to lack of engagement, with an impact felt by customers in the form of poor customer experiences.

During the pandemic, the work-place trend known as quiet quitting–clocking in and doing minimal tasks while working–has taken root, with many employees struggling with burnout and disillusionment at work. For Jaya Dass, managing director of Randstads operations for Singapore and Malaysia, quiet quitting is the residual impact of Covid-19 and The Great Resignation, in which employees felt empowered to take back control over their work and personal lives.

The employee is still fulfilling his or her job duties, but does not buy into a “work is life” culture that drives his or her career path and stands out from his or her bosses. They want to do the minimum necessary to do the job, while setting firm boundaries for improving their work-life balance. The worker sticks to what is written in the job description, and when he goes home, leaves the job behind, and concentrates on activities outside of work.

Quiet quitters keep doing all of their usual job tasks, but refuse to do more than that, engaging in behaviors that researchers call citizenship. After all, these employees are not withdrawn from their basic tasks–they simply refuse to step outside of them.

Why Should Companies Should Be Worried About This? 

Many organizations are also aware that, even as the economy cooling, they are starved of talent in key areas, and cannot afford to keep silent quitters around. Some have been forgiving, partly because last years tight labor market made replacing quiet quitters hard, at least in the immediate term. Critically, as the economic outlook deteriorates, and leaving altogether becomes less viable for many, that quiet alternative is likely to grow more prevalent.

Gaining traction in response to the burnout caused by the pandemic, silent quitting is certainly having its moment; particularly among younger people, who have, to some extent, experienced the worst of these surreal times. Many quiet quitters meet the definition Gallup defines as being unengaged at work: People doing as little as they need to do, and being psychologically detached from their jobs.

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