By Charlotte Boffey, UK Head of Service at Employment Hero
Everyone is talking about “quiet quitting”. And our research suggests it has been here in the UK since the start of the year.
Employees fed up with “hustle culture” have taken to social media to spread the virtue of the practice, while employers and others have decried it. Some of this disagreement is genuine, and some stems from the practice’s rather hazy definition.
‘Quiet quitting’ essentially refers to the practice of checking out at work – doing the bare minimum to not get fired, while rejecting discretionary effort. New ideas and projects are not asked for; new challenges are actively rejected. It originated in a series of TikTok videos but builds on the wider anti-work movement which the pandemic has spawned among younger generations.
So quiet quitting is not just finishing your tasks and going home on time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an employee who can manage their time well and set boundaries that lets them maintain a good work/life balance.
Indeed, it’s a lack of work-life balance that seems to have stemmed this wave of quiet quitting.
One “quiet-quitter” on Reddit’s “antiwork” forum said he was being pressured into doing 55-hour weeks, made guilty for taking annual leave, and didn’t want to give up on so much time with his young family.
“My daughter deserves to have her dad, and my wife her husband. I work to live, I don’t live to work,” he wrote
Our research backs the idea that many young workers are feeling somewhat burnt out after the pandemic and are subsequently placing less importance on work. That makes the British workplace a tinderbox for quiet quitting.
Our 2022 Wellness at Work survey found over half (51 per cent) of young full-time workers said the pandemic had “decreased the importance I place on my career.” Almost two thirds of all British workers (63 per cent) said they had recently experienced burnout; just 49 per cent thought their work-life balance was “good”.
It’s easy to see why: The pandemic brought the workplace into the home and our smartphones mean many of us struggle to set proper boundaries with work, responding to emails at all hours.
If you’re worried your workplace might start to feature some quiet quitters, try to make sure there isn’t too much work to go around. If one employee seems to always be burning the midnight oil check they are not being given too much work – or if they aren’t, check they have a good strategy to manage it well. Set an expectation that long hours should be the exception, not the norm. Those extra hours of work won’t be worth it if your employee just ends up burnt out.
This doesn’t mean just accepting full-on quiet quitting however – you should want your employees to be engaged with your company’s mission and eager for new opportunities to contribute to it.
How do you boost engagement?
Be proactive: Conduct some research into how employees are feeling with anonymised surveys.
“Have regular one-on-one meetings scheduled with all of your direct reports to talk to them about how things are going, what they want in their career, and possible opportunities for advancement down the road. Their career should be a journey with exciting stops along the way, not an end-state.
This will be harder but especially key with remote workers, who may not feel like part of the mission. Make sure they are setting good boundaries and not letting their work life slip into their home life.