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What Should Leadership Do About Quiet Quitting?

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Quiet quitting may be happening at your workplace. Learn what leadership should — and shouldn't — do in response to the new trend.

Heard of "quiet quitting," yet?

Quiet quitting is a new workplace trend on TikTok. The idea is that employees set clear work-life boundaries, only perform tasks within their job description, and then post about it on social media. Envision workers logging off at 5 p.m. and videoing it — and other people paying attention. The trend has gotten more than 3.9 million video views on TikTok so far.

This trend isn't all that surprising after the blur of lines between work, school, and personal life throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Quiet quitting can even be healthy. Clear work-life boundaries help prevent burnout, decrease absenteeism, and increase employee engagement and retention.

Quiet quitting can also be unhealthy. The phrase itself has a negative connotation due to the word "quitting." To refuse a task outside of your job description prevents professional growth. Never socializing with colleagues prevents community. Pursuing the bare minimum doesn't sound very satisfying.

So, what is leadership to think about quiet quitting? What, if anything, should you be doing about it?

Acknowledge the Two Sides to Quiet Quitting

First and foremost, acknowledge there are two sides to the quiet quitting coin. Whether the trend is negative for your workplace must be determined on a case-by-case basis. This is because it depends on an employee's mindset toward quiet quitting.

Is an employee burned out? Are they finally setting some healthy boundaries around when they will answer emails? Are they finally taking their vacation time? They may be just as engaged as ever with their work. Likely even more so because they're now refreshed and recharged when working.

The hustle culture that's been long prevalent in the U.S. made some people feel like if they weren't "on" 24/7 they weren't "on" at all. These people can say they are quiet quitting, but they're still solid employees. It's just that now they are engaged with their work in a more healthy, sustainable manner. Leadership should support and respect these new healthy habits.

Now let's consider an employee who is bitter or resentful about changes in the workplace. If they are quiet quitting, guidance needs to happen. Odds are they are actively disengaging from their work out of anger, with or without realizing it.

In this case, leadership first needs to help the employee get to the root of their discontent. Then, work together to make any possible changes that will help the employee be more engaged with their work, feel more valued for their efforts, and improve their overall wellbeing.

Conduct an Employee Experience Survey

Employee experience is comparable to customer experience. Companies and organizations invest a great deal in their customer experience. If you aren't already, it's time you take improving your employee experience just as seriously.

A helpful way to learn more about your workplace culture overall is to conduct an employee experience survey. You can gather anonymous information that will help you see if any organization-wide issues could be leading to quiet quitting.

Perform Stay Interviews

A stay interview is when you sit down with your employee to gather information about the things they value about their job. You also chat to discover what your employee wants to be improved in their work life. The one-on-one nature of a stay interview makes it a critical tool for deciphering the mindset of an employee who is quiet quitting.

Never performed a stay interview? Here are five tips for conducting a successful stay interview.

Address Burnout

Some workplace changes will have to wait until you've reviewed the employee experience survey results and performed the stay interviews. You'll need the feedback to take the appropriate next steps.

Other workplace changes can happen much more quickly. Discourage your employees from checking emails outside their work hours. Remove any expectations to work over the weekend. Change any social activities from after hours to during the workday.

Whatever you do, make sure you and other members of your leadership are leading by example.

Quiet Quitting Can Lead to True Transformation at Work

Learn from the new quiet quitting trend and you can experience true transformation at work. Let it move you to invest in your employee experience and help lower levels of burnout in your workplace.