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Quiet quitting is a relatively new term in the workplace. It occurs when an employee who has lost all interest and motivation in their work, decides to not actually quit, but stay in the job and do the absolute minimum, while still receiving a pay cheque. This has become a real problem for employers because, with many people now working from home in the wake of COVID, quiet quitting is easier to get away with. This lack of employee engagement is detrimental to healthy team dynamics and productivity, damages morale, and impacts the bottom line.  So, why do employees quietly quit, and what can managers do to prevent it?

Here are some of the key causes of quiet quitting:

1. The employee does not understand their impact on the business

Not every employee has a clear understanding of how their role contributes to the overall success of the company. Employees in junior positions, and employees in very large organizations, are particularly vulnerable to feeling that what they do does not matter much in the scheme of things. Every employee makes a contribution and every employee who does their job diligently should feel valued.

Action: Managers can help their team members connect the dots between their specific job responsibilities and business success. You can do this casually during day-to-day contact, and more formally during performance reviews. Positive feedback when merited can go a long way to preventing quiet quitting, so do not assume your employee knows they are doing a good job and is valued.

2. No clear career path seems to exist

Nothing crushes motivation more than a sense of futility. If an employee with ambition comes to realize there is no hope of advancement they may feel let down and resentful, particularly if organizational changes they cannot control have impacted a once-promising career path.

Action: Engage your team members in conversations about their career objectives and explore how you can facilitate their access to training and development opportunities. If advancement in their current field of expertise does not seem possible, would they consider a move into another area of the business to broaden their knowledge base? A bright and committed employee is worth keeping.

3. Their salary has become uncompetitive

Money talks, and so do employees, especially millennials, who are more open to discussing with colleagues this once super-confidential aspect of their employment, their pay.  It is hard not to make comparisons and feel offended if, for example, a new hire doing the same or similar work is earning significantly more than someone in the job for years.

Action: Where possible, ensure your team members’ pay remains competitive. Not everyone will ask for a raise but may feel hugely resentful if they do not get one. If a raise is not possible, ensure employees fully understand all of their benefits and what this can mean in monetary terms, for example, dollars saved on health and dental costs, and employee dollar-matching savings programs.  Salary is a major driver of employee motivation, but not all employees understand the value of a strong benefits package.

4. The employee is suffering from burnout

A big mistake is to assume that all those who quietly quit are inherently selfish or lazy. There are many reasons for quiet quitting and being a striver who has become exhausted, is one of them.

Action: Employers need to adjust their expectations. Post COVID,  employees are less willing to do many hours of unpaid overtime and cope with enduring stress. Where possible, offer employees flexible working arrangements and hours.  Work towards enabling employees to recoup in their free time and not be bothered by emails and work that can wait until the next business day. Ask your team how you can together make the working environment better while still meeting goals. Senior leadership, with the help of Human Resources/Employee Communications, should set the tone for the company in this regard and be fully involved.

5. There are mismatched communication styles between employee and manager

People have different needs and wants when it comes to communication. Could it be your team member is at risk of checking out due to a lack of feedback from you? Do they feel unvalued or unheard? Conversely, perhaps you are micro-managing someone who simply does not need it and they are finding the situation untenable.

Action: If you sense you are not fully connecting with your team member, meet with them to discuss communication style and how they like to be communicated with. Accommodate their preferences as far as you reasonably can.

6. They don’t have a very good boss!

This is hard to accept, but could the problem be you? Tell-tale signs are high turn-over and disengagement in your team. While there may be other reasons for this, one of the considerations has to be that their manager is unaware of their impact on people.

Action: Take a good look at how you relate to your team members. Ask individuals for honest feedback with no risk of reprisal and be prepared to accept it. Participate in 360º leadership development surveys.  Seek out training and development opportunities that strengthen your leadership competencies. Consider executive coaching to help you identify areas for improvement and build on your strengths.

Quiet quitting may not be only a modern-day phenomenon, but with remote working, it can be much more difficult to prevent and treat.  Follow these tips to mitigate quiet quitting within your team. If you’d like to explore coaching in this area, connect with us at Forge at  905 703 0003.

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