How prevalent is quiet quitting in New Zealand?

Expert cites impact of pandemic, 'lack of engagement' between employers, workers

How prevalent is quiet quitting in New Zealand?

Around one in five businesses in New Zealand are reporting that quiet quitting is happening in their workplace, according to a new report.

The report, released by Southern Cross Health Society in partnership with BusinessNZ, asked employers for the first time the occurrence of quiet quitting at work after it was first coined in the past year.

Some 21.5% of the report's respondents said they observed it at work, while another 60% said they did not.

For employers with more than 50 employees, 23.3% said there were some employees quiet quitting. This is also the case for 19.4% of employers with less than 50 staff.

Why are they quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting was the talk across workplaces over the past year as employees re-evaluate their relationship to their jobs.

The phrase refers to a behaviour among staff who only give their bare minimum at work and don't seem to deliver their best efforts to the organisation.

Nick Astwick, CEO of Southern Cross Health Society, attributed the situation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has seen work dynamics evolve, which may be contributing to the presence of this quiet quitting," he said in a statement.

According to Astwick, the rise of work from home and remote work, as well as the growing emphasis on wellbeing and job satisfaction, may have also affected employees' motivations at work.

"But quiet quitting can also indicate a general lack of engagement between a business and its employees, which can affect both parties," Astwick said.

Stamping out quiet quitting

Quiet quitting is not something new in the workplace, according to experts, who said the behaviour has existed even before the phrase was coined last year to refer to it.

Given that this is the first time that the behaviour has been labelled, the report said it was "difficult" to determine if employees in New Zealand are already doing this before the phrase emerged.

"However, given the 2022 results, it is essential that employers create a supportive work culture encouraging engagement, open communication, and feedback, to address any concerns promptly and minimise the likelihood of quiet quitting," the report said.

Astwick also made similar remarks on establishing a supportive workplace culture.

"Employees are an organisation's most valuable asset, so it's really important to foster their wellbeing, engagement, and growth," Astwick said.

The Southern Cross Health Society and BusinessNZ's 2023 Workplace Wellness report received over 137 responses from organisations in the private and public sectors.

Undertaken every two years, the report aims to guide organisations and their health and wellbeing approach to employees.

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