Quiet quitting is a new name given for an old phenomenon where disengaged employees decide to do as little as they can get away with. Human resource experts believe that since COVID-19, many employees (as much as 50%, according to Gallup.com) have deliberately or inadvertently become “quiet quitters” as they look for alternative jobs or work-life balance.
Michael Gullan, CEO of G&G Advocacy, an eLearning consultancy that provides turn-key online training solutions to corporates, explains that “quiet quitting is not outright quitting your job, but rather quitting the idea of putting in extra effort, or going beyond your duties.” Gullan explains that while “quiet quitting” is not illegal in South Africa, the law does require that employees always act in the best interests of the employer, according to their employment contracts.”
Reasons for quiet quitting
- Burnout from being overworked
- Re-evaluating work and personal boundaries
- Prioritizing mental health
- Lousy management
- Boredom or dead-end career paths
- Pure laziness.
Impact of quiet quitting on employers and employees
- Reduced output
- Reduced productivity
- Low staff morale
- Disconnected employees
- Poor work culture
- Pressure on high-performing colleagues
- Negative impact on the employee and employer’s reputation.
Solutions to mitigate quiet quitting
Gullan says that unemployment in South Africa is at an all-time high, with a reported 34% of adults out of work, and 64% of young people looking for work. “It has never been more important that those lucky enough to be employed do whatever they can to keep and excel at their jobs.”
HR professionals suggest that employees should rather “loudly persist” to do their best in their roles, hold onto their jobs, build a sense of belonging, and have a stake in where their organisation is going. Here are some recommendations,
- Engage with your employers if you’re experiencing mental health or personal challenges. Most managers don’t expect you to be 100% physically and psychologically healthy all the time. This will empower leaders to provide support, and there’s nothing more motivating than feeling cared for.
- Clarify expectations about your behaviour, attitude, and responsibilities. Know what’s expected so you can deliver.
- Look for opportunities to learn and grow. Most organisations provide training (online or in-person). Take up the challenge and have a growth mindset. Do your learning when you have completed your tasks or during lunch.
- Be clear about your organisation's mission or purpose and align with it.
- Be constructive and communicate your concerns so your colleagues and managers can address them. If they don’t know, they can’t assist. Remember, the grass isn’t always greener, so don’t jeopardize your existing job by quietly quitting to hunt for a better one. The last thing you want is to find yourself unemployed.
Gullan also recommends that leaders take responsibility for creating a culture that reduces quiet quitting. “Organisations that provide incentives (not necessarily financial) for employees to go the extra mile will see a change in attitude and performance. What’s more, the ongoing development of leaders is crucial to keep them informed of company and industry developments, improve communications, and reduce disengagement and burnout, so that everyone can win in the dynamic world of work. It takes two to tango and two not to tango,” Gullan concludes, “and employees and organisations both need to lean into loudly persisting.”