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Silent resignations: What is ‘quiet quitting’ and why is it still on the rise?

By Rachel Flynn

The phrase ‘quiet quitting’ began on TikTok in 2022, when a career coach confessed as part of The Great Resignation, that it was easier to quit quietly — putting in minimum effort while retaining your employment — than quitting altogether. The response across the globe was seismic.

“Hustle culture is over. I started doing what they pay me to do, nothing more,” one comment read.

It’s undeniable that the pandemic made a lot of workers, in a lot of industries, rethink their purpose in the workplace, with pandemic-induced burnout sighted as a likely cause. But is ‘quiet quitting’ another Gen Z buzzword, or should employers be thinking carefully about how to keep their employees engaged?

Recent studies by Gallup suggest the latter. According to their State of the Global Workplace Report in 2022, only 18% of European workers say they feel engaged at work. In the US, ‘quiet quitters’ make up at least 50% of the US workforce. No company wants to churn out discontent employees — especially when those with the highest rates of employee engagement are 21% more profitable than those without.

Here at Basejam, we understand the importance of company culture and its power in retaining engaged, motivated and committed employees. We’ve drawn up some top tips to avoid being a part of the quiet quitting phenomenon.

1. Recognise and reward hard work 🥇

A large part of feeling disengaged is when your work, effort and energy goes unnoticed. As more and more companies become remote or hybrid, it can often feel like the work that’s completed online just goes into the abyss. Undeniably, there’s a lot less high fives in the office.

When work becomes unrewarding, the temptation to quit quietly and do the bare minimum begins. Leadership that recognises employee input is immensely important — and that means more than just a thumbs up on Slack.

Things like employee recognition programs, bonuses, promotions, or a simple shout-out, can go an incredibly long way. Those who feel valued and appreciated are far more likely to remain focused and positive about their role. Importantly, they’ll have little reason to quit quietly, or at all.

Recognition should go beyond rewarding those driving profit, too. Perhaps someone’s been a great mentor, created a new process or simply raised company morale. Whatever it is, positive feedback should be specific, personal and consistent.

2. Create an environment beyond work 💃🏽

Creating an environment beyond work means understanding your employees as people, rather than necessary cogs of the corporate machine. If your Monday — Friday is jam-packed with never-ending tasks, the likelihood of burnout increases and the potential for creativity is stunted. Given that 60% of people are emotionally detached at work (Gallup), an antidote to this would be to create a sense of community — with better connections, and better engagement.

Whether that be organising a fantasy football league, post-work drinks or a full-blown company retreat, investing in activities and initiatives shows that you care about your workforce beyond the work they produce. With collective company time to wind down and debrief, employees feel more connected to each other, the company, and their work.

Unsurprisingly, management that prioritises their employees’ well-being and happiness are far more likely to attract and retain top talent.

3. Welcome employee feedback and deal with issues effectively ☑️

The risk of producing quiet quitters is heightened when issues, no matter the size, are not properly addressed. This works both ways — from an entry-level mistake to insufficient management. Regardless of seniority, all members of the workplace have got to be held accountable.

It’s immensely important to create an environment where issues can be appropriately, and sometimes anonymously, discussed and resolved. This can be in the form of regular check-ins, anonymous forms and problem-specific help channels. Without them, problems swept under the rug will build, and ultimately increase the risk of employees feeling less connected.

The responsibility of management is key here. Managers should regularly check in with their employees and encourage them to voice their concerns and share their feedback. When a problem arises, companies should be communicative and collaborative when creating a plan for improvement.

Quiet-quitting is real and must be addressed — but this isn’t a bad thing. Its existence, as a Tik Tok buzzword and an explanation for a specific departure of the workforce, is a reminder that employees must feel valued. With recognition and reward, incentives outside of the office and efficient feedback and problem-solving, employees won’t even consider becoming part of this post-pandemic phenomenon.

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