HR Tech Primer: What is Quiet Quitting?

Gen Z employees are trend-setters at workplace, coining new words that influence social media and LinkedIn conversations related to employee engagement. For instance, Quiet Quitting, a word that made a lot of noise last year and most likely would continue to keep the conversations going among HR managers who look out for new ways to neutralize this trend from showing up at workplace. It took less than two weeks last year for quiet quitting to go from TikTok video to a hot-topic with more than 15000 web page blog results in search and 15 million+ views on TikTok. From Guardian’s “Quiet Quitting: Why Doing the Bare Minimum at Work Has Gone Global” to WEF’s “What is Quiet Quitting”, we learned new lessons in HR management for business adaptability.

In our HR Tech Primer, we will explain the various aspects of Quiet Quitting, its modern definition and the different ways people managers could wrap their heads around this trend.

So, what is Quiet Quitting?

You should know about quiet quitting if you are frustrated with the hustle culture. The origin of this word is attributed to a TikTok video posted by @zaidleppelin, a young American. Since the video surfaced online, different definitions of quiet quitting have also emerged.

Let’s understand what is quiet quitting.

According to the World Economic Forum, quiet quitting is a workplace phenomenon where an employee doesn’t take the job role too seriously and restrict their activities to the bare minimum as specified in their job description. In a quiet quitting scenario, you are likely to find the employee least engaged in their additional tasks unless the job is incentivized with better pay or promotion.

Accord to an HBR article, quiet quitters don’t subscribe to the accepted norms of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) at the workplace. Which means, a quiet quitter would only do as much work as it is required to receive a pay check from the employer.

Now, according to Gallup, nearly 50 percent of the existing workforce in the US comprises of quiet quitters. The number rose during the peak pandemic months and once people started moving back to on-site workplaces, talks of quiet quitting grew louder.

What cause quiet quitting among workers?

Quiet quitters are part of the “not engaged” group of employees. People are more likely to retain their jobs and engage in quiet quitting than “quitting permanently” to take on new roles. Actively disengaged employees are “loud quitters”, says Gallup. Unlike permanent quitting by resigning or termination, quiet quitting is active employment in the existing organization. One of the biggest reasons for this phenomenon is employee burnout. According to a survey, mental health negatively impacts job performance. Paired with reduced career mobility within the organization and lack of incentives in the current roles, employees are likely to exhibit quiet quitting behavior. Just because it is revealed in Gen Z population, quiet quitting is seen as an active trend of generational shift in workplace behavior.

How should people managers tackle the “quiet quitting” crisis in their organization?

HR leaders should be more empathetic in addressing the core issues influencing the deviation from OCB at their workplace. If it’s burnout or stress-related crisis, managers should redefine job roles as part of a support mechanism to imbibe work-life balance. The use of people analytics tools like employee surveys and remote communication platforms could also ease the pain in working in a fast-paced organization. Sales-driven roles where quiet quitting could creep in due to zoom fatigue can be redesigned to ensure more time between calls and meetings. Managers, by virtue of their projects and assignments, should frequently check with their less-active colleagues and team members to ensure quiet quitting doesn’t become a pandemic. It’s true that modern business roles are designed to reward high-performing talent who show up daily at work and outperform the average worker, but if left to quiet quitter culture, even this talent pool of active employees could find a way out of the company quickly. That’s why it is important to find disengaged workers at workplace and motivate them to reach their true potential through better ways of communication.

Read More: 7 Leadership Training Trends Based on HRTech Industry Data, Analysis & Insights

Using Tech to Craft a More People-Engaging Framework in 2023

Once you have identified the crisis of quiet quitting at your workplace, you can take the judicious step of engaging in a conversation with the employee. Investing in a user-centre sentiment analysis technology powered by natural language processing and machine learning is a great way to find the causes. It analyzes massive amounts of feedback to identify organizational strengths and flaws as well as positive and negative feelings toward a new policy, change in benefits, management practices, or workplace culture. Based on the feedback, HR can then make decisions and changes to address employees’ concerns, which encourages more open communication and higher engagement.

Here are some implementable pointers for HR professionals who use sentiment analysis technology:

Survey veritable issues. It is critical that survey designers communicate with operational teams who are aware of the true challenges, opportunities, and hot topics among employees.

Short surveys are conducted less frequently. Employees will be immediately turned off by a tool that needs too much of their time, so surveys should not take more than five to seven minutes to complete. Finding the proper balance between frequency and necessity is critical for any survey tool’s success.

Show the connection. Close the feedback process by highlighting ‘what we asked, what you said, and exactly what we’re going to do to fix it. You can build confidence and encourage future survey responses by sharing the results and what you plan to do to address employees’ concerns.

Make a commitment to privacy. Employee confidentiality is critical. Ensuring the survey tool’s privacy and anonymity is critical for its implementation’s success because striking the right balance is the only way for employees to continue taking surveys while maintaining trust.

Final Thoughts

The defining factor in addressing the problem of quitting is that you cannot expect to influence your entire workforce with a “one size fits all” attitude. Not everyone in your organization will have quietly left, and those who have are unlikely to have done so for the same reasons. People are changing as a result of globalization, and workplaces must follow suit.

Likewise, while the term “quiet quitting” is new, the concept has been around for a while. You cannot expect to retain your entire workforce forever. At various points in our careers, we have all sought new challenges. While it is critical to meet your employees’ needs, HR managers should not berate themselves if they are unable to motivate all of them 100% of the time.

Instead, HR should consider what they can do to keep the employees happy while accepting that some will leave for greener pastures. Remember that you will always need to hire new people, and when you do, it is critical to welcome them into an inspiring workplace culture that complements and enriches their lives outside of work.

Whatever conclusion you reach, considering the motives for quiet quitting is a worthwhile task. It is critical that people have clear boundaries that allow them to succeed both inside and outside of the workplace.

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