A recent workplace phenomena that has been the center of discussion is quiet quitting. Originating on social media, quiet quitting is described as doing what is required at work and limiting the ways in which one goes above and beyond. “Employees are not quitting their work but rather quitting the mentality of hustle culture and being tapped in to work 24/7,” notes psychotherapist Amy Morin. The concept of quiet quitting has also been associated with what employees describe as the experience of quiet firing. Quiet firing is defined by instances when employers mistreat workers to the point that they will quit, instead of the employer just firing them. This can be characterized by limiting growth opportunities, taking away aspects of the role that an employee enjoys or even instituting a pay cut, or a reduction of hours.
These two concepts can present a challenge to an organization’s culture, but they may also reflect something missing in the employee experience. Although the term quiet quitting is new, the idea centers on the importance of employee engagement for the success of the workplace. Gallup noted that in early 2022, the U.S workforce saw its first annual engagement decline in a decade. The trend continued into early 2022 where employee engagement was down by 2 points since 2020. Employee engagement is key and connected to business benefits such as a rise in productivity, the reduction of employee turnover and an increase in customer and employee loyalty.
So what can organizations do to reduce quiet quitting and firing? Firstly, note how quiet quitting and quiet firing don’t include any direct communication between employees and managers. At the root, these concepts are reflective of cultures without open and clear communication and alignment. The following are a few ways to address quiet quitting and quiet firing at the root.
Increase trust in the workplace. Employees need to know that the organization is as committed to them as they are expected to be. By practicing transparency and encouraging open and honest conversations, organizations can increase trust.
Integrate formalized and ongoing performance conversations. Employees and managers should have dedicated time to review and discuss performance annually, but there should also be touch points quarterly or otherwise. These performance conversations should empower both managers and employees to speak up about concerns on the job.
Embed coaching for employees and managers. Ongoing coaching should exist for employees so that there is always alignment on expectations and support for change. Employees need support with direct feedback in growing in their role and managers need support in leadership and communication to provide the necessary resources and spaces for employees to be able to thrive and communicate openly.
Check out my recent commentary on quiet quitting and firing with Bloomberg titled "Enough of Quiet Quitting: It's Time to Talk About Quiet Firing"
With DEI in Mind,