I watched as two people, both dressed as if they’d come from a meeting, connect in an airport recently. Bad food, early hours, and strong coffee sat between them. Air pods in my ears, I shut off my music, and I was suddenly eavesdropping.
The things you hear in an airport are not much different than what you hear walking through an office. I was mesmerized.
Rubbing his face, one offered an exasperated, “I just lost two more employees on my project. What is going on?!”
The other offered in empathy, “Do you think this is part of that quiet quitting thing we’ve heard about?”
This raised a few questions for me.
Why do people just quietly quit?
Who were the leaders of those employees who left?
Was this man supposed to be their leader?
The current data shows that employees continually report leaving relationships they do not trust versus leaving a company. I had to board my plane before I learned if this was part of the equation to the conversation I was listening too. But it did get me thinking.
What is quiet quitting?
Quietly quitting is when an employee leaves a company without any notice or explanation. This can be a frustrating situation for leaders, as it can be difficult to understand why the employee felt the need to leave so abruptly. Additionally, quietly quitting can negatively impact the team dynamics and morale, as other team members may feel like they are being left in the dark.
Leaders should try to avoid this situation by establishing clear communication channels and ensuring that employees feel like they are valued members of the team.
What are the warning signs?
The warning signs that an employee may be considering quitting are decreased productivity or decreased engagement. When aware of either of these occurring, all leaders can address the issue before it reaches the point of quiet quitting.
A new Gallup survey found 18% of US employees are “actively disengaged” at work — the highest count since 2013. Over 50% are simply “not engaged” — the quiet quitters.
What is the difference?
Disengaged employees are often unhappy with their work because they feel like it's not meaningful or valuable. They may be uninterested in the work itself, or they may feel like their skills are not being used to their full potential.
Not engaged employees, on the other hand, may be satisfied with their work but not invested in it. They may be going through the motions and meeting the minimum requirements, but they're not putting forth their best effort. Leaders need to be aware of both types of employees and work to engage them both.
Reasons supporting quitting
Quietly quitting is a new 2022 work-related challenge because both disengaged and not engaged employees eventually DO look to change jobs. Evaluating whether to leave a job seems directly related to 3 things in the post-pandemic environment:
● Autonomy of where to work
● Pay choices and the benefits that have become relevant to consider
● Their relationships with their manager
The first two have more merit and weight than in the pre-pandemic era, but they aren’t always under our control even as managing leaders. The third reason, though, is one we have true control over if you are a leader in today’s work environment.
While a manager may not be able to control where their people choose to work (home or in-person) or whether their pay is sufficient, they can control the relationship they maintain with their direct reports.
The secret to avoiding the quiet quitters
Whether they are disengaged or not engaged, here are 3 ways that lead to successful re-engaging your team.
Make sure your relationships with your direct reports are continually growing to provide employees with opportunities to develop their skills and grow in their careers.
Maintain communication of the vision and mission of the organization so that employee knowledge of how their work is connected to the success of the company increases as their responsibilities increase.
Create a positive work environment where employees feel valued and appreciated.
Consider what that takes and if you need a partner to evaluate your options, do not hesitate to connect. Coaching can offer you perspectives you never considered and insights from other leaders they support. Coaches ask questions you haven’t asked yourself and these can provide you with insights that you can act on immediately.