– Gagan Singh, Chief Evangelist – Culture
There is a lot of buzz these days about “quiet quitting” (QQ), implying that employees continue with their jobs but are quietly in sulk mode. They will stick by the rules, do the minimum required not to get sacked and won’t even consider going the extra mile. Deadlines are not met and productivity is lower than peers. Often, it gets labelled as the quitter’s “attitude”. It is, actually, a situation seeking introspection and action. It is very similar to a bright child suddenly getting bad grades or just scraping through class with a new teacher.
Senior management cannot ignore this as a passing phase or an exception. It needs a root cause analysis.
A major area of review would be the prevailing CULTURE of the organisation from all aspects.
Accessibility and Freedom to Speak:
In an open culture, where speaking up is encouraged and where immediate managers are open, this is less likely to happen. If there is fear of being rebuked or humiliated on speaking up or sharing a concern or if the manager is so focussed on delivery and work that there is no time given to the employee to speak, that is when an employee will opt for QQ.
Where HR plays a true partnership role and are not mere “service providers”, they can be the eyes and ears and an additional source to voice concerns and grievances. Good HR Business Partners are also excellent avenues to convey issues and early signs of QQ to the manager or a level above. HR is well equipped to pick up signals of disengagement and the inclination for QQ.
Very often employees withdraw and do the bare minimum because they do not feel part of the vision, the mission, the team. They feel left out or left behind. If they feel they are continuously picked upon in front of others, then it can start a vicious cycle of the employees withdrawing and sulking. Sadly, this behaviour makes the negative comments and sub optimal performance come true.
Verna Myers said “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance”. While the organisation may have focused on hiring good, diverse talent, if the culture does not promote and demonstrate inclusive behaviour, there will be no music and no dance. Those left out will sit on the sidelines and be mere spectators doing the bare minimum.
Top-Down Demonstration of Culture and Values:
If senior management does not practice what it preaches and expects the middle and the bottom of the pyramid to follow an open inclusive culture, with politics and lack of transparency at the top, there is a sure chance of QQ. Those who are out of the “inner circle” will see no hope for themselves and will give up as they will see no scope of acknowledgement of their hard work.
Employees need to feel loved and cared. They want to feel valued and appreciated often. An annual token performance review followed by a letter giving the details of their increment is just not ok. There should be several occasions during a year when an employee gets feedback and positive strokes. A culture that does not appreciate but only highlights shortfalls will have low engagement and an inclination for employees to do QQ.
Leaders can sometimes make their employees feel like work horses or revenue producers. But it is important to understand that our employees apart from giving their 100% at work are also grappling with personal challenges like health, relationships, financial pressures etc. It is imperative for us as an organization to show empathy. Ignoring this human aspect of team management would provoke a reaction of team members to do QQ.
HR Policies and the behaviour of senior managers need to project care and concern for the holistic development of employees. Only then will they bring their whole selves to work and go the extra mile and do more than what they are asked to do.
Note to those might be Contemplating QQ :
Before passing judgement on QQs and labelling them losers, the management needs to introspect and question whether the work culture is nurturing, engaging, motivating and encouraging enough for the teams to be charged to give their 100% and more to the job because they love coming to work every morning.
A note to those who opt for QQ: Please don’t become victims. Speak up and reach out to HR and your leaders and become change agents. The onus of control of what happens to us in life rests within us. QQ is definitely not a good option for you, your team or your organisation.