Quiet quitting – internal communication and the quiet quitting phenomenon
The term ‘quiet quitting’ can be misleading, as it is not about resignation or stopping work altogether. Its main feature is that workers do what they are contracted to do, no more, no less.
This may not sound so bad at first, but it suggests other hidden processes and problems that, if not addressed by management, could have disastrous consequences for the company culture and the company. What causes quiet quitting and how can you deal with it effectively?
The road to quiet quitting
The phenomenon itself is not new. The behaviour identified with quiet quitting is a subtle protest against negative workplace experiences, but its current flourishing can also be seen as a counter-revolution. Quiet quitting is a respons.e to the hustle culture that went viral on social media a few years ago, based on the idea that people live to work. It has popularised the almost non-stop work, the side jobs, and the high standard of living that can be enjoyed with little free time. Added to this was the situation during the pandemic, when large numbers of people began to work from home on a continuous, long-term basis, blurring the lines between work and private life. Not surprisingly, the frequent result was overwork, exhaustion and burnout
In contrast, quiet quitting encourages the redrawing of boundaries. The worker lowers their ambitions, setting a new goal of meeting the minimum defined by the individual. No more tasks done instead of others, no more reading emails outside of work hours, no more “just a quick phone call after 5 PM”. On the employee side, the slogan ‘act your wage’ is often used, which highlights the root of the problem: a lack of appreciation.
Quiet quitting is not about avoiding work
Quiet quitting workers are fed up that their hard work is rewarded with more work. To maintain motivation and a positive work experience, certain drivers are needed: goals, rewards, and enjoyment of the work done. Whether it’s a lack of appreciation of pay, work-life, career or workload, if an employee doesn’t see the meaning and results of their work, it can significantly undermine employee engagement.
So it is not employees focusing on their personal lives and “just” doing their jobs that managers need to worry about. In fact, employees who are quietly leaving are no longer actively seeking challenges or expecting new opportunities at this point. And if a significant proportion of employees have no desire to develop and progress within the company, this can mean a lack of innovation, stagnation and a wave of resignations. Therefore, it is not just because of employee experience that it is important to combat quiet quitting.
Quiet leaders, quiet quitters
It would be easy to put all the blame on the employee, but the source of quiet quitting is often a factor that managers are responsible for preventing. According to HBR, the key factor in preventing quiet quitting is not how hard and creatively an employee is willing to work, but how successfully managers can build relationships with their subordinates and how effective they are. Their survey found that the proportion of quiet quitters is up to 3-4 times higher for managers who are perceived by their employees as less able to balance achieving results with taking into account the needs of others. 14% of their direct reports identified themselves as quiet quitters.
Effective communication and positive workplace relationships are key to preventing quiet quitting. It is primarily the employer’s responsibility to create an attractive working environment that clearly sets expectations, offers a proportionate salary and communicates the criteria and actions needed to progress in the workplace. Managers have a key responsibility to provide vision, purpose and meaning to the work. Quiet quitting can be dealt with primarily by addressing these points.
What concrete steps can be taken to reduce quiet quitting?
- Receiving employee input Your employees have valuable opinions and ideas. Ask them! Not only will your employees appreciate it if you listen to them, you can get really useful insights from them and make changes that they really need. A wonderful tool for this purpose is pulse check, which you can send to the colleagues on CHEQ. Lightning-fast completion with immediately measurable results.
- Finding and solving specific problems of workers Not all employees like to run to HR or management with their smallest problems, let alone give the impression that they are always complaining. Provide a forum where colleagues can talk freely and directly report what is bothering them using anonymous reporting for instance.
- Building effective internal communication The more people and channels information passes through, the more distorted it becomes. Have a direct, two-way channel to employees to avoid misunderstandings and lack of information. Plan your communication strategy and schedule messages in advance so that news do not reach colleagues outside working hours.