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Quiet quitting — what it means and why experts are divided on the subject

Quiet quitting — what it means and why experts are divided on the subject

Quiet quitting — what it means and why experts are divided on the subject
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By Kanishka Sarkar  Sept 14, 2022 7:49:55 AM IST (Published)

Quiet quitting means just sticking to the job profile for which employees are being paid and not going that extra mile, which some experts say is just fine. But it is a matter of concern nevertheless, and has been addressed by some reports.

The common practice of employees refusing to put in more effort than is required for the job has found a new name — quiet quitting.

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It is an employment trend where employees do the bare minimum due to lack of motivation or any other reason, do not get fired, take home the salary and that's about it. Experts say this is an antidote to the hustle culture.

"Quiet quitting is a practice where employees just stick to the job they are being paid for and refuse to go an extra mile," Dr Mahesh Bhatt, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Services, told CNBCTV18.com.

However, The Guardian US columnist Tayo Bero has pointed out that quiet quitting is not really a concern because it's only normal to work the required number of hours and get the job done.

She and many other experts are of the view that the problem lies in managers over-expecting and making overworking a norm, she said.

According to her, quiet quitting is definitely having a moment, having gained popularity in response to pandemic-induced burnout. This is especially so among young people who in many ways have suffered through the worst of these surreal times

"And this is all great, except quiet quitting isn’t a thing … at least it shouldn’t be. The notion of quiet quitting suggests a norm where people have to perform extra, often undesirable tasks outside of their job description, and not doing that additional work is considered a form of ‘quitting’ your job," she wrote for the international publication.

These remarks come at a time when management consulting company Gallup suggests that ‘quiet quitters’ make up at least 50 percent of the US workforce, probably more. While there are no stats for India yet, TeamLease's Bhatt said the concept has been around for decades but gained popularity recently thanks to social media video platforms.

Why do employees take to quiet quitting

TeamLease’s Bhatt said that this is a response to hustle culture and the implied expectation of doing the extra bit. According to him, high-performing employees are likely to be more prone to quiet quitting as they know their KRAs well and the means to achieve them.

“Also, employees in stressful work situations or in a hustle environment, or those disengaged will be more prone to adopt quiet quitting,” he said.

He said quiet quitting could be on account of issues with the manager and not necessarily the employer, there could be understanding issues, working style mismatch, or other reasons. It could also be because of lack of challenge, recognition, clarity and burnout, he added.

“The pandemic changed people's expectations from jobs, followed by the great resignation. A global rise in inflation has impacted work-life boundaries for employers and employees.

“They (employees) are showing up at work but not necessarily giving in their best, thus impacting productivity. This is very focussed on an individual's case rather than a widespread phenomenon,” the TeamLease official noted.

Meanwhile, the Gallup report has found a significant decline in engagement and employer satisfaction among remote Gen Z and younger millennials — those below age 35.

“Since the pandemic, younger workers have declined significantly in feeling cared about and having opportunities to develop — primarily from their manager,” the report said.

What employers can do to help the situation

Gallup suggests that it's a must for managers to learn how to have conversations to help employees reduce disengagement and burnout. Only managers are in a position to know employees as individuals — their life situation, strengths and goals, it said.

The report added that the best requirement and habit to develop for successful managers is having one meaningful conversation —15-30 minutes — per week with each team member.

TeamLease also suggests conducting surveys to understand employees' problems. “This is especially needed for critical employees, as large firms can’t always pay specific attention to individuals. With competition levels high and the gig economy gaining traction, companies must work harder on talent retention,” Bhatt said.

He believes employers must identify early signs of quiet quitting and listen carefully to the staff’s evolving needs and address their concerns. Employees must be allowed to take some time off as breaks can help them regain focus and control of work, he said.

According to him, employee engagement and open communication increase productivity. “Answering the simple question 'What's in it for them?' to go over and beyond the assigned tasks will put leaders at ease,” Bhatt said.

What can employees do instead of quiet quitting

TeamLease has advised employees to ask why the extra work needs to be done and have conversations with the manager about pay versus passion, the problems they’re facing, and be upfront about making it a win-win for employees and employers.

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