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Quiet Quitting

October 6, 2022

Quiet Quitting. Should you be afraid of it? Is it keeping you up at night?

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard about Quiet Quitting. This Tik Tok that sent social media spinning this summer has a catchy title, but don’t worry managers, there are a few simple tools to keep this off your list of things to worry about.

With the increasing number of people working remotely all or part-time, and the rise in burn-out over the past few years, it’s unsurprising to see this topic resurface with some new packaging. I think at its core, Quiet Quitting is about the way people are trying to address the feeling that work is taking up too much space in their lives and that they aren’t being valued for what they do. And that remote work and no play doesn’t provide the kind of fulfilment they look for in life. The way they’re asserting themselves is to take a mental step back. Quietly.

At the heart of the issue, I think Quiet Quitting is about low engagement and employees trying to find a way to assert some agency into their relationship with work and their manager. That’s why, when we get down the basics of it all, I think that good management is really the best way to tackle Quiet Quitting.

But, what does this look like? 

To start, I think your team needs to know they can rely on you, that you provide a clear and consistent structure for talking about work, their performance and how they’re feeling. Getting ready to combat Quiet Quitting isn’t about people pleasing or saying yes, every time your team ask for something. But it’s about providing them with a sense of safety and recognizing that they are unique, wonderful human beings with needs in and outside of work. At its core, good management is really about consistency.

How can I do this? 

In a very practical sense, you can do this by meeting with your team weekly ensuring you talk about both work and personal topics. Your team wants to know you care about them when you assign their workloads and that you will be there to help them when they need support or back up. We encourage our teams to do just this, and to have a bigger performance chat on a quarterly basis to stay close to their professional progress and aspirations to help our teams identify and lean into their strengths. It’s important to note that this didn’t happen overnight but has been critical to our success since we evolved into the hybrid-mostly-remote business we are today.

As a manager myself, I try to practice what I preach! I meet with my team 1:1 once a week and since we work in an agile way, we have two stand ups on a Monday and Wednesday morning. They’re 30-minute meetings to talk through our priorities or work through projects together and separate to our all-HR Staff Meeting on Tuesday. Realistically, Monday morning we mostly talk about the weekend and on Wednesday we tackle some work. But since two of our team members have joined us in a remote environment, this has really helped everyone to bond and get to know each other. Building these relationships is time well spent and helps to make up for the loss of chit-chat at the desk throughout the day.

Why does it matter? 

In our recent Big Village study on Work Life Balance 22% of Gen Z and 25% of Millennials responded that they were ‘Very Likely’ to Quietly Quit based on how they perceive their current organization treats them. This highlights the real need to spend a bit of extra time focusing these employees. For those in early career roles we need to spend more time creating connections and building relationships, providing professional development opportunities and a sense of community. We know these things are harder remotely. I know I got a bit burnt out trying to have fun over Zoom at work, with family and friends all trying to do the same thing at the same time. However, losing the zoom quizzes and happy hours isn’t the answer either. We need to bring a sense of fun back into the workplace. Recently we designated a Townhall to this idea and split everyone into randomized breakout groups to talk about their favorite food, joke, or movie. After the first session, we couldn’t stop talking about how refreshing and reinvigorating it was to take 30 mins out on a Thursday afternoon to meet new faces and to do something silly and laugh. We all need to laugh.

Easy right? Well, no. It takes thoughtfulness, time, and willingness to get it wrong.

But if you’re able to do this then I can promise you that Quiet Quitting shouldn’t keep you up at night.

Written by Rachael Brockman, VP, Global HR at Big Village