‘Quiet-Quitting’ has suddenly become a buzzword these days. What is it actually? It is a slang term referring to an employee’s attitude of putting less effort into getting work done. This practise causes employees to do their jobs by putting in bare minimum effort to avoid being fired, but without going the extra mile. Employees who ‘quit quietly’ may have the goal of achieving good mental health, so this is more related to their personal and psychological reasons.
Many believe this approach works to reduce burnout, set healthy boundaries and help employees understand their priorities. They may place a lower priority on “work” than other aspects such as family, friends, health and hobbies. In fact, with the advent of working from home, they now value work-life balance far more than the older generations.
However, some employers may have trouble accepting this change. They may have a poor impression of employee productivity and begin to fault-find or reflect on the potential workplace conflicts that have contributed to this attitude. This is especially true when the company is understaffed, which limits its ability to serve existing customers and continue to grow.
At the same time, some employees may need some freedom and space to show us what they can do based on their experience, passion and knowledge. But they may not see those opportunities at work especially with dominant bosses. So, what do we need to change in our organisation for our employees to not only stay, but contribute at their fullest potential?
First and foremost, we should acknowledge the challenges others face when these are the obstacles that cause them to slow down. There must be reasons they are stressed or overwhelmed. Being kind can be easier said than done, but this is how rapport is built and improved. We can try to make them feel comfortable in our presence by listening to what employees want to share and empathising with them.
In addition, it is best to acknowledge their hard work publicly as well as privately. Take time to appreciate them, and I am sure they will return the favour in a thousand ways. It is also important that we establish a system of work where employees can understand how we work at our best so they can do the same.
We can also set up new rules. These must apply to everyone in the organisation including the bosses. We may need to review some official or unofficial procedures and expectations about how everyone works, when they are expected to be available and what they are expected to achieve. For example, do we expect everyone to respond to text messages and emails 24/7, or should we implement silent periods where we expect others to wait until the next day?
Today’s trend shows that quiet-quitting cuts across demographics and may become commonplace. Rather than viewing this practise as completely damaging, we also need to reflect on the system and atmosphere we currently have at the workplace. Is the office environment positive? Is the work culture transparent and efficient? Is there a support group in place to help employees with various issues? At the end of the day, we know it works both ways. Things can only improve when everyone works together as a team. Quiet-quitting – it can be good at times, but it can also be an indicator of a bad issue.
Siti Aisyah Akiah
Centre for Language Studies
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)