31st August 2022

First The Great Resignation, Now Quiet Quitting?

Advantages of Increasing Productivity While National Productivity Stats are Falling

INTRO – Quiet Quitting, What Is It?

On the heels of the Great Resignation, the next big thing in the workforce has been what’s called “quiet quitting.” The term is a bit of a misnomer, as it doesn’t refer to quitting at all. Rather, employees are retaining their positions in a company, but not putting in the “extras” to push productivity. The reasons behind the movement are myriad, from burnt-out employees who feel they have nothing left to give, to those who are simply unwilling to participate in an “above and beyond” workplace culture without appropriate compensation. Call it good boundaries, call it bad attitudes, but with a rising workforce made up of primarily Gen-Z young adults, quiet quitting, as the new moniker of work-life balance, might be here to stay.

Why Quiet Quitting Happens

So, what’s an employer to do?  Last week’s productivity report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that non-farm labor productivity fell 4.6% in the second quarter after declining 7.5% in the first quarter. Productivity growth is vital in the current economic climate, and a decline in productivity could sound a death knell for companies who don’t keep pushing for growth. But in order to keep increasing productivity, employers should keep a few aspects in mind:

  • Employees aren’t necessarily motivated by growth overall in the company.
    • The majority of employees are disengaged from the bottom line of the company. They need to see the values and company culture lived out in their daily work experience. Quiet quitters are still estimating they work just as hard, but they’re not incentivized by company growth, just their personal growth. Companies that lack opportunity for upward mobility will find themselves in a tough spot.
  • Exhausted and burnt-out employees
    • A recent Gallup poll found “After trending up in recent years, employee engagement in the U.S. saw its first annual decline in a decade — dropping from 36% engaged employees in 2020 to 34% in 2021. This pattern has continued into early 2022, as 32% of full- and part-time employees working for organizations are now engaged, while 17% are actively disengaged, an increase of one percentage point from last year.”
  • Equalization of reward/punishment across the workforce

How Companies Should Respond

Although it might seem dire, quiet quitting is actually an opportunity for employers to pivot in their employee engagement strategies. Here are some strategies you can implement to spur your productivity statistics:

  • Work on employee engagement
    • Fewer than one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing — the lowest percentage in nearly a decade. We’ve written previously about employee engagement strategies. Some aspects to consider are: embracing flexible work environments, focusing on employee wellbeing and treating employees well, and enabling managers and employees to navigate times of change within their own teams.
  • Actively promote/reward hard work
    • Companies that foster and reward a culture of competence will have better employee retention and will see an overall improvement in employee morale and productivity statistics. Helping employees maintain their standard of living while offering opportunities for growth and upward mobility will be key in the coming months.
  • Be explicit in company values
    • Employees seem to be caught between the dueling priorities of work and life. Companies that can help bridge this gap and give employees substantive goals to care about at work will be most successful in their retention and engagement efforts. Be explicit about your company values, and make sure they are lived out tangibly throughout your operations.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The anti-work sentiment is on the rise, and national productivity is down, but this is matched by a real desire by employees to care about the work they do.  Effective leaders can boost their business success by cultivating a connected and engaged team. While these ideas are a good start, it can still be difficult to implement employee engagement into your organizational culture–especially in today’s rapidly changing work environments!

If you want to learn more or need some help with employee engagement to boost your organization’s performance, check out our Employee Engagement Coaching and Training.  We can help you create a more connected, high-performing, and engaged team. We can also help magnify the effectiveness of your leaders and managers as they learn how to better engage employees in both the office and/or those working remotely.