Labor Day just passed – a day many relate to a three-day weekend, sales, and the last weekend before school starts. Labor Day, however, is a day to recognize and honor the social and economic achievements of American workers.
But American workers aren’t feeling the love. According to Gallup, only 36% of American workers are engaged with 14% actively disengaged, costing organizations between $450 – $500 billion dollars annually.
Now there’s a new tendency floating around – quiet quitting.
Quiet quitting is the catchphrase of the moment (thanks, in a large part, to Tik-Tok and social media). Some call it a revolution, a movement where people are demanding their work-life boundaries be respected, a backlash to the hustle culture, a culture of busyness that has dominated the work landscape for years. Quiet quitting could also be a normal response to the pandemic and the shift of the workforce’s priorities. Quiet quitting isn’t new, per se. But the intention with which workers are adopting this idea may be. Quiet quitting doesn’t sound unreasonable – this idea that you work to live and not the other way around. Be aware, though, because quiet quitting could be toxic for your organization.
Striking a work-life balance isn’t toxic. Having employees with no emotional investment in their jobs is.
What can an organization do?
An employee’s duty is to make their organization better – by supporting their teams, customers, and solving problems. An organization’s duty is to provide employees with a healthy workplace so they can succeed. What does that look like?
1. Respect and promote a healthy work-life balance. This seems obvious, but that corporate mentality of employees being on-call persists. Set clear boundaries and stick to them. Go back in time to when employees were not available after hours. (Pretend smart phones and social media don’t exist).
2. The hustle culture is so 1980s. Really. And it should be left there along with jazzercise clothes, shoulder pads, and mall bangs. Busyness doesn’t equate effectiveness or being strategic. The hustle culture feeds on the need for more – more money, more customers, growth at all costs. This leads to burnout. Remember, your employee’s job is a fraction of who they are. Value employees who have diverse and exciting interests – whether it be stamp collecting or rock climbing. They bring new ideas, fresh perspectives, to the table. Re-read #1.
3. Listen. This is something employees continue to holler about and continue to go unheard. Active listening takes real skill and can be developed in senior leaders, frontline managers, and employees. Why are employees just showing up – doing the bare minimum? Ask the question and be prepared to listen to the answer. Then do something about it.
4. Be flexible. Being flexible doesn’t mean anything goes. Being flexible is about implementing meaningful actions and strategies to meet the needs of your diverse group of employees. This could include high-impact, low-cost strategies like compressed workdays, hybrid schedules, and part-time schedules.
5. Cultivate a culture of gratitude. Recognition and gratitude are key pieces of engagement. Recognize behaviors and actions that have positive impacts on the organization, its products, customer service, work teams and more. Be specific about why this person deserves recognition, connecting the dots between your employees’ behavior and the organization’s goals and mission.
6. Give, give, give. Be a giving organization that gives employees time, resources, opportunity, work-life boundaries, respect, and autonomy. Expect your employees to perform – and give them the tools to do so.
7. Communicate. Communication isn’t a once/year performance review or employee engagement survey. Communication must be multi-directional, constant, and consistent.
Whether quiet quitting is a rebellion of Gen Z indifference or a new term for an old problem (disengagement), one thing is certain: disengagement costs billions. Be strategic about engaging your employees and battle the quiet quitting phenomenon with these seven tips. You might be surprised at how, by reimagining your place of work, you reach and connect new customers, new markets, and engage your employees.