Since “quiet quitting” videos went viral on TikTok in July, the concept has hardly left the news.
Many managers have experienced goosebumps of fear due to the widespread acceptance of the idea that employees should simply adhere to their job descriptions and decline to participate in any discretionary effort beyond what is necessary.
According to a survey released in September, up to 50% of the US labour force may be quietly leaving their jobs. The UK does not have comparable data, but according to a 2022 report, its workforce is among the least satisfied in all of Europe.
It appears that employee engagement has steadily decreased over the past ten years, with only 9% of UK employees currently expressing enthusiasm for their jobs, compared to 33% in Romania, where the workforce is the most engaged in Europe.
In the tech industry specifically, a survey of 2,000 20- to 30-year-olds conducted across Europe revealed that 57% of respondents would not recommend their place of employment to friends or family. The most frequently cited causes of this disillusionment were poor management techniques and an absence of obvious career progression.
Because of massive skill shortages , in some industries , employees are bombarded with job adverts and head hunting messages. This gives employees the confidence to think they will find another better opportunity overnight.
Since they’ve been claiming for years that the only way to advance your career is to do extra work, leaders have had strong reactions to the idea of people simply doing what they’re paid to do, or “acting your wage,” as some employees put it. This is why quiet quitting is so contentious.
While the majority of IT leaders themselves go above and beyond, encouraging others to do the same as part of their job duties, they face a challenge because an increasing number of employees are now saying they’re content just to do their job and no more.
Even worse, there is “no evidence” that only younger generations, who frequently use TikTok, are buying into the idea of quietly quitting.
Furthermore, there is concern that the levels of quiet quitting, an alternative to the potentially riskier real quitting, may rise as worries about a global recession grow.
In spite of the fact that 46% of the 2,003 UK workers surveyed in a recent poll said they would like to change jobs, four out of every five said they intended to stay with their current employer through the recession. The main justification was fear of being subject to a “last in, first out” rule should layoffs begin (67%).
So, how can leaders best detect signs of quiet quitting, especially in a hybrid or remote working environment where cues can be more difficult to detect? What, more importantly, can they do about it?
People tend to exhibit a number of behaviours before quitting or quitting quietly, one of which is simply contributing less in meetings. Other common indicators include a more cynical attitude and a lack of confidence in their ability to do their job.
As to what action can be taken, a good place to start is for IT leaders to collaborate with their HR colleagues to determine how much of a problem “job creep” has become within their teams. The goal here is to conduct a job analysis and audit to determine whether job descriptions are still accurate and how much individual roles and responsibilities have increased in recent years.
It’s about doing less and understanding how employees feel more; it’s about evidence-based leadership, which entails gathering qualitative data through listening and determining which aspects of the job bring someone to life and add value to the business, while others are toxic and draining.
Sometimes it can be a simple as having an honest conversation with people to ask what is wrong. An employee may want a new challenge, have a personal issue or have a problem with a situation that occurred some time ago that has not been addressed. Ultimately, it is unfair on the organisation and rest of the team members if one person is letting the side.
A problem for many line managers in technology and elsewhere right now is that, while they are increasingly expected to take responsibility for this critical relationship-building activity, they are often not rewarded for it, with the primary focus remaining on technical tasks.
It is critical that technology companies invest in their line managers not only to improve their management and other soft skills, such as communication, but also to specifically teach them how to deal with change and become more resilient.
Accepting that the world is full of challenging change and investing in how people can deal with it is crucial to the resilience concept. We don’t have control over the world we live in, but we do have control over how we react and what we do.
A learning and development approach is revising its definition of leadership to include junior and middle managers rather than just senior executives. It also intends to broaden the senior leadership development.
Employer-employee relationships have weakened and become more transactional over the last decade or so. But, for some leaders, this is an exciting time because they are seizing the opportunity to improve work and benefit both employees and the bottom line.
Altogether, empathy, communication and training are required. To begin, request that managers listen with empathy while addressing the root cause of underperformance. Management may need to eliminate proximity bias, encourage face-to-face interactions, and establish new discussion forums.
Listen to their personal and career goals and create a induvial career development plan for the next 12 months with real rewards for over achievement. If you can, invest in meaningful, relevant training / coaching in line with the business needs. The goal is to create an environment in which employees and management feel comfortable speaking openly about problems and working together as a team. Employees also need to be aware that many European economies are in a fragile situation, a companies failure or success is down to the effort or lack of effort of every single person at a company.
Using in-office time to encourage a sense of community. Being supportive can go a long way toward reducing both quiet quitting and quiet firing.
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