Mitigating ‘Quiet Quitting’

October 2022
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Our third summer of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a lot of conversation around “Quiet Quitting” and the apparent death of hustle culture across all professions, the PR profession included.

Quiet quitting is not, as it might first appear, actually leaving your job. Instead, it signifies performing only what your specific job responsibilities entail — nothing more, nothing less. 

In other words, fulfilling the job description while setting healthy boundaries — so, why choose a phrase that feels like shaming? Is it possible that the tried-and-true ways of the traditional workplace were unsustainable? In short — yes.

In 2020, employees worldwide were thrust into a place of reimagining what work is, what it means to them, and, more important, what it could be. This most certainly led to the Great Resignation, and now, quiet quitting is the leading trending topic in the workforce. 

Theoretically, it makes sense. Why “go above and beyond” if there isn’t any incentive for it? If remote work is possible, why are employees encouraged to return to the office, adding commuting hours and expenses back onto their days? Why do more work for the same salary? 

For employers, this may be an unpleasant reality. Falling productivity levels amid the growing concerns of an economic recession can negatively impact the bottom line. 

For employees, this approach can also hurt the possibility of upward progression of their careers. Sometimes, it’s simply a decision between A: burning out or B: setting boundaries to safeguard mental health and physical wellness. 

There is undoubtedly a generational perspective at play here, too. Work-life balance and consistent engagement often mean more to our younger workforce than loyalty to an organization and the traditional “climbing the corporate ladder” does to our veteran crew. 

Identifying meaningful work

We must look beyond the fluff and the perks to identify what is meaningful to employees. Companies need to give their staffers a voice, opportunities, recognition, a sense of belonging, and quality ways to engage with their peers, mentors, and clients — not to mention flexibility and financial incentive. 

Also, employers must pay close attention to the warning signs of burnout! People are tired and frustrated, so they are reassessing their priorities and rethinking their values. 

Taking care of workers

We do have to strive to strike a balance, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Make sure your staff is using their vacation time, and allow them to fully disconnect during those earned rest periods. 

Recognize that people can be engaged and motivated by their positions without needing to entirely revolve their life and identity around their job. Perhaps they no longer want to check emails late at night because they’d prefer to focus on their family or a novel they’re writing. 

Whatever the reason, that time after hours is their time, so be transparent with prospective employees about what is expected and how frequently they need to be available when “off of the clock.” Communication will always be essential. 

Being clear about expectations

While the conversations around quiet quitting continue, the concept of “Quiet Firing” has also been raised by employees, which reflects an employer treating an employee poorly or unfairly to the point that they will quit instead of terminating employment. 

Lack of a raise for an extended period, despite an employee doing their work effectively, is one example that has been shared, as well as being tasked with extra work for which they are not being compensated. 

Another possible indicator is minimal paid time off or requiring employees to work during an approved vacation.  

It all comes down to being clear about expectations, setting healthy boundaries, consistent communication, and finding a workplace whose culture, ethics, and business practices align with your goals, values, and needs as a professional and human being. 

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