Why work to the best of your ability when you can just do the bare minimum? This is the sentiment behind quiet quitting, a trend that has employers across the world panicking.
This is a trend where workers put less effort on work and focus on themselves and their lives. Picture: Mizuno K/Pexels
Saying no to going above and beyond and disliking the “hustle culture” at work follows a change in people’s perceptions toward their relationship with their jobs that was spurred by remote working during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Why is everyone 'quietly quitting'?
Younger Gen Z workers are engaging in this trend that has gained traction on social media, particularly TikTok, and it may have a negative impact on their career prospects as well as the culture and performance of their employer.
This is according to organisational behaviour specialist and leadership development programme head at Stellenbosch Business School, Dr Natasha Winkler-Titus.
Employees who are quietly quitting are not resigning, but they are drawing the line, she says.
Quiet quitting: Employees doing just enough
“They are setting boundaries to recalibrate work-life balance and protect their mental health. Work-life boundaries are healthy and necessary, although quiet quitting could be seen as a passive-aggressive way of achieving this, rather than a more constructive, assertive approach.
“It is a signal to employers to focus on employee engagement and well-being and to create a supportive environment where they have a voice and are heard. Employers that don’t focus and enable discussion about improving mental health and employee well-being risk a disengaged workforce or losing employees to other companies.”
A study published in the Harvard Business Review has found that the capacity of a manager to control an employee’s workload is more important than an employee’s willingness to put in additional effort.
“The success of a business depends heavily on the effectiveness of its managers. Bad managers will fail to create trust and respect among their team members, and a lack of appreciation may have a knock-on effect on the company’s revenue and productivity. Employers need to have mechanisms and systems in place to keep track of how managers are running their teams,” says associate in employment law Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
With remote work more commonplace due to the pandemic, employees have greater awareness of their autonomy and flexibility in how and where they work, says Winkler-Titus.
“This, combined with the mental health impact of the pandemic, prompted people to reflect on the meaning of life and where work fits into it. Expecting people to just return to an old form of ‘normal’ in the workplace creates discomfort and is a factor in employees quietly quitting in order to keep work and life apart,” says Winkler-Titus.
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First Published Oct 17, 2022