Photo Credit: TIME
The pandemic has pushed many companies on edge. For over two years, it has unequivocally dealt damage to executives and employees. The long hours of work coupled with stress and understaffed companies led to the latest trend in TikTok, the quiet quitting.
There have been many misinterpretations of the phrase. Others think that it is simply quitting a job or that it stands for workers doing the bare minimum with their current jobs. However, Kathy Caprino, a leadership coach, said that it is neither.
“It’s about stopping doing work that people think is beyond what they were hired to do and not getting compensated for,” Caprino said.
An engineering consultant said that employees should still do excellent jobs at the task they are paid to but refrain from taking on tasks that are not part of the job description, which could only add more stress in the long run.
“While I was in my 9-to-5 job, I was still working my 40 hours a week. I was still fulfilling my job duties. I was just taking away that feeling of stress I had,” the consultant said.
The pandemic caused a drastic shift
Employees accepting tasks more than they are paid for have become common because of the pandemic. In addition, due to the massive layoffs and unexpected changes in landscape because of the lockdown, many company executives added additional responsibilities to their remaining workforce.
CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, Chis Edmonds, said that the employees also got frustrated because of employers’ insistence on returning to the in-person setup. A poll released last March 2022 revealed that 24% of American workers think managers care for their well-being.
“It’s on [managers] to genuinely and authentically understand where people are coming from. One of the things [supporting] innovation is … radical prioritization by employees and managers and leaders,” said Simone Ahuja, a Fortune 500 strategic consultant.
So what is quiet quitting
In essence, quiet quitting is letting go of the extra work that is not part of the original job description you were given from the get-go. While there is no reason for people quiet-quitting, most employees said that given the current situation, burnout from the pandemic could be the problem causing the trend.
Ashley Herd, the founder of ManagerMethod.com, said employees find it hard to open up and say to managers that they are burnt out from work. Usually, the response from managers is to take action, but nothing actually happens, adds Herd. As a result, they turn to quiet quitting.
“[Quiet quitting may be an employee’s way of] taking control and having boundaries. However, managers should be concerned if their expectation is for people to go above and beyond constantly. It doesn’t serve anyone if you burn out,” she said.
It could also mean that employees have found new priorities outside their jobs. However, it would not mean that the employee will not continue to do a good job. Ahuja added that many individuals seek an identity more than the job they are employed to do. This stems from the pandemic-induced desire to make the most out of life.
What managers need to do
There is no universal fix to employees quiet quitting, but it is important to know what your team is thinking about. Ahuja said managers should get clear pictures of the individual’s goals, inside and outside the company.
“Have a genuine inquiry — people feel cared about when they’re invited into a co-design process. Ultimately, we all want to be in a sandbox that’s fun to play in.”
“If you don’t understand the internal state of your employees, things are going to happen that you’re going to be blindsided by. We have to show that we are committed as leaders, that we’re involved and that we’re invested.”
Edmonds further added that managers should engage in conversations and build employee relationships.
“The responsibility of employers is to find out what people perceive as fair, then don’t do anything less than that.”
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.