Quiet quitting is an application of what’s technically known as ‘work to rule’. Employees work within defined hours, engaging only in activities required or related to performing their job. Coined in 2009, the philosophy of quiet quitting, despite the name, is not necessarily connected to outrightly quitting your job, but – instead – performing only (exactly) what the job requires. Proponents of quiet quitting also refer to this as ‘acting your wage’.
According to the August 2022 ResumeBuilder Survey, to employees Quiet Quitting means opting to exactly or perform less work than being paid for. Many say the #1 reason for doing this is it’s the best way to avoid burnout to help stay healthy.
For some, it appears as if this is a new issue. Yet according to Allyn Baily, executive director of success of the San Francisco-based SmartRecruiters, this isn’t anything new. This “is a performance issue – a behavior issue – and it’s always kind of existed” she tells us.
Bottom line, says Baily, “Employees are no longer buying into the myth that to be successful they have to subscribe to the ‘hustle culture’ and be always available and always ‘on’ 100 percent of the time.”
“Quiet Quitting parallels the Great Resignation,” says Wanda Jackson, Sr. V.P. of human resources for the NY-based National Urban League.
Employees have begun considering their workplaces – workplace culture, how they want (prefer) to spend their time and – beyond that – what is most important to them.
And interestingly, for most, it has little to do with money or position she tells us.
What it boils down to is the need for time for other issues in their lives. For example – parenting or caregiving, furthering their education, and handling home issues. Even time for family gatherings, developing a hobby, or relaxing.
All that said – what steps can companies take to put an end to Quiet Quitting? Should they begin what’s called Quiet Firing?
Quiet Firing is a rebranding of a concept that’s been around for a while,” says Annie Rosencrans, director of people and culture at the people management platform HiBob. “It’s when managers have lost faith in the ability of their team members to do their jobs. Rather than giving them direct feedback or opportunities to develop new skills, they hope the person will self-select out.” In short, to quit. A few tactics used are:
- Making the workday more difficult and uncomfortable – in small ways and
- Actively making work conditions unfavorable. Such as constant criticizing, shorter criticizing, shorter breaks, and transfers to departments in which they lack experience.
- Deny remote work when others are allowed.
- Deny promotions and raises.
- Eliminate an employee’s current leadership roles.
- Overlook or insult them to suggest they aren’t part of the team.
And that’s just a sampling of tactics.
Not only is quiet firing a poor way to treat employees, and stems from poor leadership, it clearly serves to disenfranchise them. To encourage them back on a positive track would take nothing short of a miracle; plus raises the employee loss numbers exponentially if the company allows any and all supervisors to follow these questionable supervision methods.
How can both of these situations be eliminated?
“If employees notice they’re falling into the trap of being quietly fired, I strongly recommend they set up a face-to-face conversation with their boss or HR management before things get worse,” says Leslie Tarnacki, senior V.P. of human resources at WorkForce Software in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Hopefully, this will not only clear the air but help the employee better understand how this situation may have occurred. And if they want to stay, work out the details. Or simply quit.
Company leaders and supervisors should make it a point to chat with employees on a regular basis – not wait until the annual job review comes around. By that time, too much water has flowed under the bridge and several issues – such as poor work submission – may have finally brought the employee to the firing point.
Also, ‘Quiet Firing’ frequently stems from ‘Quiet Quitting’ Human Resources pros recently interviewed for the Society of Human Resource Management stated. As the situation flows on, the manager ends up angrier and sets in place their plan to make this an untenable work situation; until the employee voluntarily quits.
Sadly ‘Quiet Firing’ serves to harm businesses in a variety of ways; ways it could take years to recover from. This ‘tit for tat’ style of leadership encourages a passive-aggressive culture which can negatively impact all employees, drive up the ‘quit numbers, bring profit loss; not to mention ruin or compromise a company’s good reputation making it difficult to hire top talent; plus can prohibit the company from flourishing financially.
It’s time for companies to begin showing employees they’re valued not only as workers but as individuals.
Simply asking each employee if there’s anything the supervisor can do for them, to make the job or workday easier, can help build trust and greater respect. Not to mention, following up, with them, on a regular basis – helps show you care, appreciate them, and are there for them when needed. These are some of the best ways to show your respect for them and their work.