Quiet quitting – how to spot it, how to solve it

Why supporting your staff is the most valuable tool you have in 2023

In 2023, the workforce will be more diverse than ever, with the possibility of five generations under one workplace roof. Gen Zs are quickly becoming the dominant generation in the workplace, and there’s no denying they’ve brought a new set of strongly-held values.

This generation is strong-willed, ambitious, and born into a society that values mental health and a healthy work/life balance. As such, many Gen Zs (and older generations following suit) have been dubbed ‘quiet quitters’: working only to their job description and doing just enough to get through the working day.

Perhaps your team is rowing in the same direction, or some are just on board for the ride. Whether you suspect quiet quitting or not, there’s no doubt it’s a trend here to stay – and you should be equipped with the facts. Here’s what you need to know.

Quiet quitting explained

Quiet quitting is when employees come to work and just do their jobs for the paycheck. They’re not emotionally or intellectually engaging with their roles, doing the bare minimum and not going above and beyond. They’re certainly not looking for opportunities to add more value to your business or clients.

There’s no denying this mentality shift stems from the pandemic. Microsoft studied 31,000 employees from 31 countries and found that 53% of people were more likely to prioritise their health and wellbeing over work than before the pandemic. In the same report, Mark Bolino, the director of management and international business at the University of Oklahoma, explained that since the pandemic, the workforce has reassessed how their careers fit into their lives. And “if it doesn’t fit as well as you’d like it to, quiet quitting looks appealing.”

Employers see quiet quitting as employee disengagement, a protest against work-life imbalance, and a form of noncompliance. Here are the tell-tale signs your team might be entirely quitting:

  • They refuse to take on new responsibilities.
  • They seem disengaged or checked out.
  • There’s a lack of clear communication.
  • They feel they’re overworked or micromanaged.
  • Your expectations aren’t clear to them.
  • Projects aren’t finished on time.
  • They’re producing low-quality work.

How to solve it

Although quiet quitting isn’t confined to our youngest workers, there’s no denying that they’re driving the change. As they become the most dominant working group, workplaces must adapt to new expectations. Here’s how to tackle the problem:

Be open-minded

Understandably, employers and managers feel frustrated by these changes. But quiet quitting isn’t a fad – it’s a decisive shift in the workplace that’s here to stay, and we must take note. Feeling annoyed will only push your people further away, so try to support their views instead. You’re much more likely to have a positive response.

Offer flexible working models.

The pandemic has forever changed the way we work. We’re no longer confined to the borders of office walls, Monday to Friday and 9 to 5. Many industries realised we could work from home and on our own time, as long as we get the job done well. A flexible working model is one of the essential things for Gen Zs in the workplace, and it’s also important for other worker groups. Two-thirds of the NZ workforce say they want more work-life flexibility – if employers don’t listen, staff are much more likely to disengage from their roles – and quietly quit.

Encourage healthy work/life balance.

In the eyes of modern-day workers, weekends and evenings are off-limits. That’s their time to switch off and reset so they can return to work feeling refreshed. Managers and employers need to respect this boundary and actively encourage a positive balance between work and home life: offer a monthly wellness day, enforce a ‘no-work-on-weekends’ rule, and insist on workers taking a proper (paid) lunch break. Without these acknowledgements that you value their well-being and respect their time off, your people are much more likely to disengage from their roles and lack motivation.

Adapt your working model and avoid quiet quitting  

In 2023, our world is changing rapidly – and so are workers’ expectations. If your employees request weekends off work, won’t respond to an email past 5 pm, or turn down a task outside their regular job description, you as the employer must respect that. But if they’re producing poor quality work, aren’t finishing jobs on time, or treat others poorly, it might be time to have a conversation with them.

If you’re concerned about quiet quitting in your team, give us a call – we’re always here to help.