What is Quiet Quitting?
Senior HR Advisor Gary Foster explores a popular question “what is Quiet Quitting?”
Quiet Quitting is a relatively new phrase doing the rounds on social media, but what does it mean?
Well, it means different things to different people. It could mean doing the absolute minimum in line with your job description and terms and conditions of employment. Alternatively it can be described as the rejection of the notion that you have to be a superstar in the office who can do everything and never say no.
So, what’s new? Well in my opinion, nothing really. Many people have a colleague they can relate to that appears to be able to manage effortlessly at work and receives praise on a regular basis. However many people can probably also identify an employee who puts in the minimum effort in return for a salary.
Working life is based on people carrying out their role in line with what they are paid to do. Not all people seek praise, they don’t need employee of the month awards, they may not even need feedback and simply not getting in trouble is enough for them.
As a shared basic need, they work for shelter and sustenance and to pay their bills which work facilitates and then they live the life they wish to live outside of work. At the other end of the scale, we have the high achiever who thrives on feedback, awards, responsibility, opportunities to network, status and strive to be known as the ‘can do’ achiever.
What’s the problem with the term Quiet Quitting?
“The problem” if there is one, is of a subjective nature. It may be the employee in question is only doing the minimum required in retaliation for some perceived or actual slight. Equally the high achieving comparator may well be fearing for their professional career on a day-to-day basis and has thus created a world for themselves where they need to be seen as the super star. Both motivations are likely to have negative impacts in the long run whether it be through sanction in respect of the former or burn out in respect of the latter.
What can an employer do? Well firstly an employer needs to get to know their team on an individual basis. This can be done by simply talking to them. Get an understanding of their character, their motivations, their goals. If the employee is happy and comfortable with the status quo and the employer is of a similar disposition, then the employer really doesn’t have a problem to fix. If, however it is found that the ‘quiet quitter’ isn’t happy perhaps through lack of engagement, their feeling of unfair treatment or similar then it would be incumbent on the employer to seek to resolve those issues so that the employee can work towards what both parties feel to be an acceptable level of performance.
This is the same for the high achiever. Are they comfortable working in this manner? Do they thrive from it? Or are they being driven by fear or other negative motivators? In which case it is again incumbent on the employer to take reasonable steps to avoid a negative conclusion down the line.
Whether quiet quitting is a “thing” is ultimately irrelevant. What is relevant is whether an employer is happy with an employee’s performance and equally whether an employee is happy with the environment within which they work and the work they carry out. What an employee and or employer can do to fix a problem (assuming there is one), is in the first instance communicate with each other and from there, if needed, seek assistance from their internal and or external HR function.
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