You have probably heard the term “Quiet Quitting” by now. It is seemingly ubiquitous when describing the labor force post-Covid. Quiet quitting, or quitting-in-place, is really a fancy name for a problem that employers have dealt with for centuries: lack of employee engagement. When team members are “quiet quitting”, they are only doing the minimum to collect their salary, and it can be disruptive to any organization by slowing growth and damaging culture.
Quiet quitting can take shape in many different ways, but most commonly looks something like this:
- 9-5 only - Salaried team members start and stop work exactly during working hours and not a minute more, so when a client calls or emails late in the day and instead of responding the same day or shortly after, they wait until the next day to take care of it.
- Lack of concern over not achieving goals - Casual approach to working on their goals, or blaming someone/something else for lack of achievement.
- Less participation in company meetings/internal communications - Few or no ideas shared, no response to messages put on internal communication channels like Salesforce or Slack when supervisors ask for input.
- Time off/time outside the office becomes the priority - More time and effort are spent planning time off than actually doing the job they were hired for. Furthermore, they don’t feel any concern about missing work.
- Reduced initiative - Will not step up and volunteer to cover for another team member, take on more responsibility, and generally see everything as extra work they aren’t being paid for.
Another example could be that, typically good things such as giving raises, birthday cards, or Christmas presents, start to go unacknowledged, when gratitude was expressed in the past.
At some point in your managerial career, you will see these or something similar, because it is estimated that at least 50% of the current workforce, or 80 million people, are quiet quitters.
Why Do People Engage in Quiet Quitting
Everyone has their own reasons for why they might disengage from work, and a lot of it probably has to do with something in their personal life. Others might feel undervalued and unappreciated, or think their manager is not invested in them.
One organizational psychologist sums up this growing trend as an employee power move to retain their self-respect when feeling a psychological threat in the workplace from those who make the rules.
It could also be that some just want to set clearer boundaries for themselves, and further separate work from their personal life, which may have been blurred significantly during the 2020 pandemic and ever since.
What You Can Do About Quiet Quitting
The “experts” say there are a couple of approaches you can take: 1. Get tougher and get rid of people to make an example, 2. Lighten up and adapt to the wants and needs of the current workforce.
I have struggled with this myself, because I was managed and was taught to manage under the first approach, but this is a great time to rethink how we work. Two Harvard Business Review researchers invited leaders to ask themselves to look inward. For example, do I have a team full of bad employees, or is it me since I am the common denominator across each relationship? I went through this exercise and here is what I found.
When we aren’t hitting our goals and the recruiting team has few or no candidate calls scheduled, I get frustrated. Going forward, I can better express empathy and acknowledge their struggle, and the fact that they too are disappointed that the goals aren’t being met.
If work-life balance is their number one goal, I can help them more properly align their priorities with company goals. For example, coaching on what projects are likely to take more time, and managing expectations for our clients appropriately. And it is okay if they don’t want to be an owner, and simply work as an employee for a long time or a short period of time.
I get it that people don’t want to be stressed about work, but some level of stress is inherent when you are promising to deliver a product or a service. Maybe not everything has to be perfect, especially on non-critical things like making a phone call to gather information. Not everything has to be viewed through my perfectionist lens, because it can slow us down and create more stress. It still needs to be done right though - as you can’t complete a wire transfer if only 80% of the numbers are entered - but again, not everything requires wire-transfer-level perfection.
I am a grinder and entrepreneur. I get ideas and thoughts all the time, even outside of business hours, and making sure my team knows that I don’t necessarily expect a response until they get back. I need to try to set a better example of unplugging, taking a true break, and not expecting an immediate response.
This was a tough exercise for me, since I feel like I have deeper than average relationships with our team members, and try to manage via a hands-off style. But then I do tend to overreact at times when something is done that causes me to lose confidence, and begin panicking about what else might have fallen through the cracks. This is why it is a great time to look inward to try and identify any tendencies you may have that are perpetuating quiet quitting.
One of the most positive things that came from this process was a reinforcement of the trust and confidence I have in myself to hire the right people and put them in positions to succeed. This also helped me refocus on one of the top things that are very important to me as the leader - each team member’s well-being plus their professional and financial success.
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and/or would like to hear more about how we have been assisting financial planning firms for the last 14 years to build and strengthen the teams that allow them to grow much faster.