“Quiet Quitting.” Videos like this have sprung up everywhere this year talking about it. The question is, is it a valid phenomenon, or is it nothing more than catchy clickbait? 

Before we attempt to answer that question, we must realize that whether it’s “valid” or not is irrelevant. Today, we are going to use this new trend as an opportunity for companies to proactively address the cause of quiet quitting rather than the symptoms and results themself.

While many organizations excel in the areas of employee engagement and retention, the tenor in the marketplace (and perhaps why the original video gained so much traction) is that this is the exception – not the rule.

The result of “quiet quitting” indicates that something has shifted in work. Let’s discuss it!

So What’s New?

In the viral video by Zaid Khan (@zaidlepplin), he states that “work is not your life.” This is not a new concept or ideology. However, if we know that work is a necessary part of life, viewing the act of employment simply as a means to an end overlooks the opportunity for purposeful, gratifying, and challenging work.

When given a choice to do the bare minimum necessary to stay employed, or proactively construct a professional environment that provides meaning, which do you think most would choose?

Most would choose a meaningful work environment, but that’s easier said than done. Many new variables have emerged:

  • The pandemic shifted people’s attitudes toward work, creating a time of isolation and reflection over the “essential-ness” of their work, job, and meaningfulness of their 40-hour workweek
  • Remote and hybrid work environments have created employees who feel disconnected from their work, workplace, and coworkers
  • Lack of boundaries between work and personal life has created an “always working” dynamic that leads to increased rates of burnout
  • Newer employees entering the workforce have never “gone to work” and thus have no personal investment in an organization, its people, or its mission
  • Lack of organizational focus/attention necessary to keep employees aligned, motivated, and moving forward in their organizations and in their careers

Uncovering the Cause of Quiet Quitting

“What is your why?” It sounds like an esoteric question, but why is it that you choose to go to work each day? Why do you choose this profession, instead of something else? Why do you choose the role you are in, as opposed to others? 

Encourage yourself and others to press beyond the obvious answer of “I need to make money.”  There are countless ways to earn a living so why have you chosen this one? 

They say that it takes you asking “why” five times before you get the real answer. 

Once you begin to list all of your whys, you will notice they fall into two categories. The first category is similar to Maslow’s lowest hierarchy of needs: food, water, and shelter (ex: “I’d like to be able to pay my mortgage” or “I want to send my children to college.”).  

The second category recognizes that there is a bigger purpose, a desire to make a difference, and a need for the higher meaning behind the choices we make. Both categories are important and not mutually exclusive. An individual who only cares about money will likely live with a void in their life, while an individual who is all about the big picture has their head in the clouds with no feet grounded in reality.

How Companies Can Address Quiet Quitting

  1. Acknowledge this is a leadership issue – In his book Extreme Ownership, former Navy Seal Jocko Willink writes: “On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.” Leadership must address manager engagement first, then re-skill them to be successful in a hybrid/remote working world.
  2. Rebuild the psychological contract with employees – The 20th Century psychological contract was transactional. Employees showed up every day from 9-5, and in return were rewarded with a paycheck and a pension. The 21st Century contract is relational. Employees want a salary, but they want challenges, career growth, support, and meaningful relationships. More than ever, leaders must build or rebuild trusting relationships with their employees. When people feel valued, they are more likely to naturally engage in their work.
  3. Commit to offering high-quality work –  High-quality work means having varied and meaningful tasks, clear goals, and a positive team climate. This means having reasonable demands and expectations of workers. Leaders need to be especially careful about not overwhelming people with excessive demands, long work hours, or unreasonable pressures.
  4. Acknowledge and respect that employees have changed –  Quiet quitting is an identity shift. See employees as they are now versus who they were pre-pandemic. Employees want autonomy over their work, not just in how they carry out their tasks, but also possess influence over where and when they work.
  5. Work to Reconnect Employees/Teammates – Employee engagement relies on feeling connected to one another and connected as a team to a bigger purpose. Leaders must be intentional in creating interaction and cohesion within their company.

Let’s face it: Quiet quitting isn’t new. It’s a new twist on an old problem. As leaders, it’s on us to address it.

About Us:

With over 90 years of logistic experience, Top Talent has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference” for its clients. To learn more about successful strategies for getting those impact players and game-changers on your team, reach out to us today.

– Michael Monson
Top Talent LLC
President and CEO
Email: mike@toptalentllc.com