The term ‘quiet quitting’ has been circulating the internet as of late, and if you’re a small business owner, you should become familiar with what it means and how to prevent it from impacting your employees, as quiet quitting remains a phenomenon that business leaders, especially those running small businesses, must attend to with urgency.
What is quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting refers to employees doing the job they are paid for and nothing more. While these employees aren’t necessarily quitting their jobs, they are abandoning hustle culture by quitting “the idea of going above and beyond at work,” as TikTok user zaidleppelin said in a July post that gained over 3 million views and contributed to popularizing the phrase. Resonating strongly with Gen Z and millennial workers striving to revive the standard that work shouldn’t define one’s life, quiet quitting sees employees doing the least of what is required at work instead of trying to climb the corporate ladder.
Signs that indicate a quiet quitter is among your team include consistent disengagement, performance only to the minimum requirements, alienation from other team members, withdrawal from any nonessential conversations or activities, presence at meetings but failure to speak up or contribute, and employees reporting a heavier workload as consequence of picking up slack.
An employee who is quiet quitting can create an undetectable drain on a company’s engagement and productivity, an issue costing American companies as much as $150 billion annually by some estimates. For small businesses, this problem is likely escalated given the greater limit on resources, including the number of employees.
Why do employees quiet quit?
Employees quiet quit their jobs for a variety of reasons, but the general motivation is based on job dissatisfaction. Perhaps a disgruntled worker was overlooked for a promotion or raise and intentionally withdrew out of spite, or maybe they didn’t feel supported or secure in their role and gradually disengaged. Whatever the case, these employees do not want to consume their lives with work and are opting out.
How can I prevent quiet quitting from affecting my small business?
In addition to the negative financial impact that quiet quitting can pose, company executives and workplace experts argue that the movement could harm employees’ careers—and your business—in the long run. Worries of an economic slowdown have also raised concerns over productivity levels, which have become a significant metric for excellence given the steep drop in U.S. nonfarm worker productivity compared to last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For a small business with less resources than a big corporation, employees who quiet quit have the potential to significantly reduce productivity of any kind. This is harmful not only to a business’s current output but for its potential growth. Think about it – if someone’s voice is silenced within an organization, they are depriving the opportunity to change or advance that organization.
If preventing quiet quitting from impacting your small business can mean an opportunity for growth, business owners should do everything they can to ensure employees remain engaged at work, as well as eager to propel a company toward greater success. Beyond our fast and flexible funding options for businesses, including our Lines of Credit and Term Loans, Idea Financial supports small business growth in any way or form. That said, here are 5 ways that a business owner can combat quiet quitting in the workplace:
Be more flexible. Unlike previous generations accustomed to sitting at a desk working for 12 hours a day, newer generations prefer greater flexibility. Some companies have tried offering job sharing, flexible work time, hybrid work, compressed work weeks or part-time employment.
Provide regular guidance. Leaving team members on their own to figure out how they should prioritize their work can encourage quiet quitting, especially for college graduates who recently entered the workforce. In fact, carving out time for a quick one-on-one with a boss or mentor can make a huge difference in overcoming workload anxiety and burnout. This way, less experienced people can learn to feel good about achieving small things each day.
Foster a learning environment. A prime reason that drives quiet quitting is stressing about work. One way to diminish anxiety levels of your employees involves defining realistic expectations and knowing when to be okay with ‘good enough’ accomplishments. Perfectionist tendencies can develop in people overwhelmed by negative judgements or criticism at work, and this can actually lead them to apply less effort in projects that they believe won’t be good enough, regardless of how hard they try. Especially with younger employees, you should guide them through your standards while embracing small wins. Moreover, always reassure them that making mistakes is normal when learning new skills and processes.
Reward positive performance. If there’s one common denominator of the human experience, it’s that everyone wants to be validated. And when it comes to work, employees want to know how their bosses perceive the quality of their performance. Hence, rewarding good performance—whether it’s positive praise, increased compensation or added benefits—is key to standardizing ideal expectations and retaining good employees. A silent manager or boss can cause worry to plague the minds of even the best employees. But showing gratitude toward employees for their accomplishments can help them see their worth.
Set an example. As a business owner, you are a role model for your organization. That means you should not only exemplify the ideal motivation and engagement that you want to instill within employees, but you should also be respectful of your team members’ boundaries, specifically regarding their off time. One driver of the quiet quitting movement stems from the desire to separate work hours from personal time. Even if you feel the need to share a piece of work-related news with your employees during a weekend, it’s better to schedule your email for Monday morning than issue work reminders during off hours. That said, give your employees time to enjoy non-work-related activities, so they can be fully charged for their upcoming workdays.