The term quiet quitting refers to an approach to work in which an individual meets the minimum requirements of their job description but nothing more, no discretionary effort, no going above and beyond. The term has been discussed intensively lately in media. It is widely known that organizations include employees who have attitude of working “just for receiving salary”.
Motivate – demotivate
Why do some employees choose to become quiet quitters? In a recent article in Forbes the decrease of productivity is connected to quiet quitting and enforcing stricter work from policies. If distance workers are required to get back to the office under the threat of discipline, it leads to disengagement, fear, and distrust. As referred to in the article Gallup found that if people are required to come to the office for more time than they prefer, “employees experience significantly lower engagement, significantly lower well-being, significantly higher intent to leave and significantly higher levels of burnout.”
I believe that neither behavior of quietly quitting nor the reasons leading to quiet quitting are new. People feel demotivated or have other reasons not to be engaged and they can choose the quietly quitting approach. In this article I will discuss what to do if you identify that the previously high performing talent or you suspect your recent key recruitment has become a quiet quitter.
Define concrete behaviour
To begin with, you should reason why do you believe a person a quiet quitter by identifying a concrete behavior. The most notable sign is of course the decrease of performance/activity levels. But I have witnessed also other early signs such as lack of interest of generating ideas, negative attitude, low engagement level in meetings or sudden change to short-term and purely operational perspective. The term quiet quitter is rather descriptive – a formerly active employee become quiet and passive.
Get an objective overview about the reasons for being demotivated
My recommendation is while discussing with the employee to create an environment where the employee feels comfortable in sharing the reasons for lower engagement. I agree with Forbes article that changes in distance working policies might cause dissatisfaction. However I believe there are numerous other reasons which are at least as common such as relationships issues with manager or colleagues, job task dissatisfaction, possibilities to impact or unclear mandate just to name few.
Action plans based on individual circumstances
Since the effects of quiet quitting are harmful for the whole organization, it is important that the leaders establish practices to prevent low engagement and thus increasing productivity. We recommend that managers define action plans to based on individual circumstances. I do not believe there exist a standard solution but rather a combination of several actions which might include:
- Allocating new and more demanding job tasks, additional responsibility, or clarification of mandate.
- Follow up dialogues (e.g., weekly).
- Solving team/relationship issue, if necessary, consider moving the person to another team.
- Implement stretched targets, providing clear message on higher expectations.
- Clarifying workplace/distance working issues and trying to find a solution which works for both employee and employer.
- Redesigning the office to become a place for collaboration and socializing.
Coaching and mentoring as tools
I believe that providing mentoring and coaching for the employee to discuss the motivational drivers is a very good option to increase the job commitment. International Coaching Federations Global Coaching Client Study shows most clients reported improved work performance, better business management, more efficient time management, increased team effectiveness, and more growth and opportunities. The same study found that coaching clients noted greater self-confidence, enhanced relationships, more effective communications skills, better work-and-life balance and an improvement in wellness. Nearly 70 percent of individuals indicated they had at least made back their initial investment.
We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized to support companies broadly when working with Talent Management issues including building new way-of-working and providing Executive Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Executive Search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more from the solutions we can provide.
Mikko Taipale is Partner and works with Executive Search and Talent Management in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC). Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader with a focus on Talent Management practices.