Quiet quitting – is it affecting your workforce?

Posted 20/06/2023 : By: Felicity Shakespeare

The term ‘the great resignation’ was coined by Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at UCL, in May 2021. He predicted an exodus of workers from their jobs prompted by burnout and the taste of freedom that many employees experienced while working from home during the Covid pandemic. This ‘great resignation’ is also known as ‘quiet quitting’.

The rise in quiet quitting is noticeably linked to a fall in job satisfaction. Essentially, employees no longer feel that employers are looking after their needs. Employees don’t just want to be well-paid for what they do but to be respected and valued for it. The first sign of quiet quitting that employers may notice is a reluctance amongst employees to ‘go the extra mile’ or to put maximum effort into their work. 

There can be no doubt that the recent pandemic caused many employees to re-evaluate their work/life balance. The traditional model of the daily commute followed by long hours in the office no longer holds sway with the employee who knows that flexible or hybrid working can be just as productive. 

So what can employers do if they think that they are being affected by quiet quitting?

An employee engagement survey can often give employers the heads-up when it comes to a sense of dissatisfaction among employees. Employees may be more willing to express their ‘real’ feelings about their role and the workplace through an anonymous route such as a survey. It is important, though, to ask the right questions and to encourage your employees to participate as fully as possible in the survey, which can sometimes be an uphill battle. Sometimes a small incentive to complete the survey, such as a prize draw, can be very effective!

How can an employer make employees feel more valued in their role? Apart from keeping pay competitive, other benefits, such as an employee assistance programme (EAP) could be considered. EAPs needn’t be that costly to the employer – it’s really a matter of finding a package that suits your budget. Benefits such as free, confidential counselling and reduced-price cinema tickets are often included in EAPs and are popular with employees. 

Finding ways to celebrate successes or special days on the work calendar can help employees feel they belong. If your organisation has an intranet for internal communications only, it would be ideal for this purpose. Bringing employees together for events such as games nights or quizzes can also help to create a sense of belonging and community. 

Recognition of an employee’s true value can also be shown by offering opportunities for career development and growth. Even if your organisation does not have a clear career development path, encouraging employees to upgrade or improve their current skills can show that you are willing to invest time and money in them. It shows that you value what they have to offer. 

Flexibility is the new ‘buzz’ word in the employer/employee relationship and not just flexibility in working hours or location, but across the board. Appraisals and performance management processes may also benefit from a new approach. Instead of an annual appraisal or six-monthly performance management reviews, employers could introduce a system of continuous feedback, setting short-term but attainable goals aligned with the organisation’s long-term objectives. It has been shown that this enhances employee performance, engagement and ultimately, job satisfaction. 

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