Unpopular opinion: there’s no such thing as quiet quitting
November 24, 2022
It’s been difficult to miss the latest trend sweeping social media and the internet - quiet quitting.
Gaining momentum through TikTok, where videos using the hashtag #quietquitting have 93 million views, quiet quitting is a term coined and adopted largely by Gen Z employees. It doesn't actually refer to quitting a job, but a shift in mindset at work to completing responsibilities that fall within the parameters of their job description and nothing more.
It follows a difficult time for employees - according to Forbes, the pandemic heightened our awareness of the importance of well-being, but remote work and other factors have also resulted in many of us working longer hours and taking on more responsibility without any compensation, worsening the already growing problem of overwork.
The term quiet quitting is loaded with unspoken undercurrents of unrealistic workplace expectations, employee frustrations and unmet wellness needs. But dig a little deeper, and quiet quitting appears to be little more than a new label for a repackaged problem..
For Vyou Founder and Chairman Jon Stanners, who has spent his career working across many different talent sectors, this is a familiar and recurring workplace problem. He said: “My take on this is that it is a new term for an existing problem - a lack of engagement in work.”
Pre-pandemic research by Gallup showed as many as 80% of workers are disengaged and around 15% of those are actively disengaged. This means 65% of employees are disengaged - but may not be aware that they are - and 15% are aware, and doing only what is required of them in their roles.
Jon adds: “The trend is not new, either. As someone who has worked in the talent industry for over 15 years, I hear only a new term to an unsolved legacy problem. Gen Z calls it ‘quiet quitting’, millennials call it ‘setting boundaries' and Gen X call it ‘slacking off’.”
“With all three generations in the workforce it will cause conflict no doubt but we need open, transparent conversations and insights on wellbeing issues and understand the causing effects. For example; forever asking employees to go above and beyond will cause burnout issues. We all know this, most have felt it in some way and yet we still face it time and time again.”
Not only this, but Jon suggests that quiet quitting might have far less to do with well-being than we are led to believe. He said: “Quiet quitting is not about well-being, it is about working cultures.
“Hear me out with this one - we are certainly talking about well-being issues which is true - but the elephant in the room is what is causing those issues. These employees aren’t quitting, but they are taking control back. Weak, toxic or poor cultures can increase burnout more so than those who actively manage positive wellbeing.”
“So, if quiet quitting is the engagement crisis in a new guise, what should we take from its latest resurgence?
Jon suggests: “Positive Working conditions - or lack of - has been through many iterations for generations. I think we are on the cusp of the next “f you” stage where a new paradigm will be set. This generation has had enough - the cost of living is driving some of this.
“The thing is, it's no good helping employees to take back control alone. If we really want to make the company a happy place to work, we must provide wellness insights to leadership which “show” whether their employees feel like the culture is a good one or not. If they are positive, why so? If they are not, what can they do to take action to improve?”
“I believe that the new paradigm will be to focus more on wellness; physical, mental and financial. Those companies who are rising to the top sustainably are focused on creating a well company.”
Whilst there's no doubt that quiet quitting is marking a pivotal social movement, amplified by social media channels bringing a huge mass of employees together, there seems to be far less noise regarding what teams, team leaders and companies can now do in order to break the cycle of generations past.
Jon suggests: “At the heart of this movement is company cultures: Bad ones; whereby people are being asked - explicitly or otherwise - to do more than is expected of them. If we really want to tackle wellness related challenges or ‘quiet quitting’ - we need to start with identifying and calling out corp cultural behaviours which cause the issues - this is our starting point!
“This was one of the driving forces behind creating Vyou. Whichever way you label it, disengagement comes from unhappiness at work. Whether it be through lack of financial reward, recognition, work/life balance, a fast track to burnout, or a host of other well-being issues that occur time and time again - it all stems from unmet expectations or needs.
“What has previously been lacking was a way of making insights needed to intervene and ensure team members are happy at work, available to all. And that’s where Vyou comes in. By equipping team managers with the tools and support they need to identify problems before they escalate, and by meeting employee needs, happiness can be maintained and productivity can soar.”