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Quiet Quitting - Another Workforce Pandemic

Quiet Quitting - Another Workforce Pandemic

Like any workforce, the employment cycle rotates. An employee leaves, and the vacant position is refilled through succession plan initiatives or an external hire.  But what happens when the wheel keeps turning with no insight into its frequency?  Why are people just “quietly” leaving with no tangible reason as to why? Even when the Human Resources department conducts an exit interview, and they review the report; there is no “real” indicator as to why an employee who demonstrated extreme potential, an inclusive team player and an integral member of a thriving department wakes up one morning and designs to resign?

The truth is, it wasn’t something that stemmed overnight, the organisation neglected the change in his or her behaviour. They didn’t see the park burn out and this is the end result of a workforce pandemic called “Quiet Quitting”.

A “quiet quitter” is an employee who performs the minimum requirement of their job and puts in no additional time, effort, or enthusiasm, then absolutely necessary to get by under the façade that they are being “productive” but in reality, they are working strictly within the “satisfactory” bandwidth.

These employees are less likely to stay late, show up early or attend non mandatory meetings. In a nutshell, these employees will not contribute to anything that does not sit within their job description nor will they go above and beyond to demonstrate their passion for their craft in their attempt to grow and thrive within the organisation on the path to career progression. While these group of employees have been have always been in existence, they have managed to stay tucked away amongst high performing employees who have carried them along.

Now organisations are feeling the strain of the economic crisis, and operating a lean management system, key performance indicators have increased to stay afloat in the market which has shed more light on the average performers. So what are the underlying factors that  causing the increase of the “quiet quitter” ?

We can debate this for days, but I will focus on the prominent 4  which are Pay Discrepancies, Blurred Boundaries, Lack of Internal Career Progression, and Poor Leadership and People Culture.

Pay discrepancy is a common affliction that affect a lot of professionals today due to the lack of air-tight corporate governance structures and policies. You’ll find that there are underlining grey areas surrounding the justification of salary differences, and as a result the level of equality amongst employees is compromised.

Some organisations use unjustified yard sticks to benchmark salaries on a case-by-case basis, and this can range from length of service an employee has given to the company, the quality of education an employee has acquired, the amount of foreign work experience an employee has been exposed to and the list goes on.

Knowing that an employee with the same skill set and expertise as you is being paid more for an underlining reason best known to management is a prominent “red flag” that will push any employee to seek pastures new.

Blurred Boundaries is where there is an invisible line between expected deliverables against tangible  KPI’s as opposed to imposed workload that is not measured against an employee’s performance. An example of this is when an employee is given tasks outside their designated responsibilities, and it is not merited against their performance nor compensated or reflected in their paycheck.

Blurred Boundaries leave employees feeling used and as a result they lack the motivation to function at their full potential, and silently seek an organisation that rewards hard work and dedication. Blurred Boundaries are also the lack of organisations adopting a hybrid working environment. COVID-19 proved that businesses can still function fully under a flexible ecosystem.

While it’s evident that we are seeing a sense of normality, some organisations have not incorporated this “new norm” into their workforce policy and talent retention strategies, so my question to organisations is “where does work end, and life begin?” and how does the lack of flexible working affect an employee’s , mental health & work-life balance? The answer simply means that sooner or later, organisations will begin to lose their best talent to forward-thinking organisations who are levering on technology to revolutionise business transformation initiatives one sector at a time.

Lack of Internal Career Progression can cause “Quiet Quitting” due to the lack of realistic performance management indicators, internal training and development initiatives, and succession planning design/execution. To ensure the longevity of talent in an organisation, there might be a defined path to progression. Ambitious employees want to evolve as they excel in their expertise and need to thrive in environments that promote, and nurture growth. Employees are not driven by money alone because after their expectations have been met, they are only satisfied temporarily.

Purpose-led professionals will always seek for more, and environments that are solely business-led and lack people-centric culture and values will see a surge in turnover based on an ecosystem that lacks direction.

Poor Leadership and Toxic Culture is at the core of a “Quiet Quitters” checklist; this is because some leadership styles and environments do not allow employees to flourish and demonstrate their expertise to the detriment of the organisation’s corporate objectives. This could be for many reasons; some leaders feel threatened by the potential of their subordinates, while others are focused on the deliverables without looking after the people that drive its’ success.

The root cause of this workforce pandemic lies in the misrepresentation of employer branding and engagement from the onset. An Employer Brand initiative and language is targeted to attract a specific talent audience so its a reflection of  a PR Strategy, but if the internal employee engagement initiatives doesn’t reflect the same narrative, an employee’s life span within an organisation will wither.

We are now in a season where we want more out of work; Employees are sacrificing salaries for well-being.  People are now putting themselves ahead of career progression and promotion. They are less sacrificial and more intentional. So as employers, what are we doing? To reduce the level of quiet, quitting and increase the level of productivity and engagement within the workforce, this pandemic is growing, and its following suit behind the great resignation and other workforce pandemics that are affecting our economy as a whole.

What’s the solution?

Organisations need to go back to the drawing board, and authenticate their vision and mission and culture. This will definitely require a lot of internal change management initiatives to drive this business transformation and organisations will find resistance from those who are not susceptible to change but in order to reduce the level of “Quiet Quitters” is to constantly have your pulse on the policies and procedures that govern the workforce and implement people-centric strategies.

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