'Quiet quitting': The toxic employee trend that's worrying HR

There's little written about the new employee trend quiet quitting, but it could be detrimental for HR

'Quiet quitting': The toxic employee trend that's worrying HR

Since the pandemic, a plethora of surveys have been conducted and data compiled around employees and their relationship with work. Typically, the data has found that there has been a major change in the way people approach work – the taste of freedom while working from home has prompted much of the workforce to rethink what work means to them and how they can make their job align more closely with their life values.

“For many years, as technology has improved and made connectivity and working easier, it has also meant work has encroached into our personal lives more and more,” added Lauren Berry, People and Culture Manager at people-management platform, Employment Hero. “With COVID, we saw the absolute combination of work and personal as we all moved to work from home, and our professional and personal lives melded together.”

While leaders worry about the Great Resignation, there’s a concerning new trend emerging amongst burnt out employees – “Quiet Quitting” – in short, when an employee is physically present at work but have made the decision to do the bare minimum amount of work to stay employed and collect a paycheck.

Read more: The real reason your employees quit

“This idea of quiet quitting could be considered a subset of the Great Resignation as this concept speaks to that ongoing trend that has come out of COVID,” continued Berry. “Individuals are re-evaluating their priorities and their work is front and centre of that re-evaluation for the first time in many years. Many things have changed, and there is a greater desire for flexibility, putting more boundaries between work and life, and shifting the mindset from living to work to working to live.”

Is quiet quitting really anything new?

Unlike the great resignation, there isn’t a Wikipedia page on quiet quitting. Some people say the concept has been around for a while, there has always been people that become exhausted with the volumes of work expected of them, so they mentally check out, the difference now, is the behaviour now has a label. 

How do you stamp out quiet quitting in your organization?

“Putting boundaries around work in place is essential to help prevent burnout in our people. Particularly for remote-first organisations like Employment Hero, these boundaries are critical to ensuring our work is completed but that it doesn't fully encroach into the home or personal life,” said Berry.

Read more: Can HR spot signs that an employee is about to quit?

"We know that our people are more productive when they are well rested and have the opportunity to take a break and recharge doing the things they love - so having conversations about how we work and how our people work, where we can promote that work-life balance helps productivity.”

For managers, it's about managing output and performance and trusting our people - if they are performing, why can't we allow our people to go to the gym at lunch and manage their time in the best way for them?

“I also don't see this as the end of discretionary effort, but a readjustment of expectations. Employees do not want to work significant amounts of overtime anymore, they want to bring their whole selves to work, to spend time with their families and they want flexibility - the Great Resignation has told us that and this is an extension of those desires.”

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