When I first read about Quiet Quitting – the ‘phenomenon’ of employees doing the bare minimum – I thought I’d write a post about some of the reasons behind it and how to overcome them. I was going to look at connecting people to their purpose, creating strong teams and helping employees overcome burnout. 

All of these things are vital to creating a positive work culture of course, and they’re just a few of the topics that we tackle in our workshops and training. However, crucially, they shouldn’t only be considered when employers feel that their employees aren’t working enough.

When you look more closely at the panic over Quiet Quitting, two things become clear. Firstly, employers expect their employees to work more than their 9-5, constantly going above and beyond to generate maximum profit for the company. And secondly, as this great article by the FT points out, levels of productivity haven’t actually changed since the 2000s, with employers still able to discern the difference between employees who actually put in 80 hour weeks and those who are simply present for 80 hours a week. 

The entire panic was kicked off by a TikTok video, which became a TikTok trend, and whilst there are always going to be some people who are slacking, most ‘Quiet Quitters’ are in fact ‘just’ doing their job. 

lazy cat

If slacking is a worry

Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your team.

  1. Are you expecting people to put in unreasonable hours?

  2. If that’s the only way your business functions, do you in fact need to hire more people, or bring in freelancers for the ‘crunch’ periods that are inevitable in certain industries?

  3. Are you focusing on availability over output? Presenteeism is a constant issue in the corporate world, and rewarding people who respond quickly or are simply visible actually leads to higher levels of distraction and much lower efficiency, as we deal with extensively in our training. 

  4. Have you created a productive work environment? Instead of trying to control your employees, take control over where and how they work and create physical and digital spaces that are conducive to deep, focused work as well as spaces that foster collaboration.

  5. Is it reasonable to expect everyone to love their work? We always try to help clients establish the values for their company as this is hugely helpful in engaging employees, but it’s also important to accept that not everyone is going to drink the Kool Aid. Most people will have times in their lives when work is simply not a priority, but they still need to earn. As long as they’re fulfilling their responsibilities, that should be completely fine. 

Quiet Quitting isn’t a problem.  There are many industries where people are always expected to work inhumane hours and go ‘above and beyond’.  Often the same industries where the people at the top are given huge bonuses every year. That, to me, is a far greater problem than the very reasonable desire that many people have to earn a salary, work reasonable hours and then go about the rest of their lives.  The pandemic may have triggered this ‘phenomenon’ (which, as I’ve said, is far more a perception than a reality), but only because it made people step back and evaluate what really matters in life. And if that isn’t their work, that’s ok.