‘Quiet Quitting’ – The new phrase creating fear in many sectors

The term “quiet quitting” is generating lots of discussion in HR circles at the moment after a video went viral, saying “work is not your life”. The trend stems from a movement in China against their entrenched long hours culture, which has now led to the censorship of the hashtag #tangping, meaning “lie flat”.

Across the West it looks a lot like an attitude of ‘work to rule’ where employees pull back from striving for success and promotion and instead restrict their effort to the hours and requirements of their job description / contract.

Whilst the term “quiet quitting” might be new, the power of employees to pull back on their effort in protest against being unhappy or disengaged from their employer has been around for a long time in one form or another. Unions in particular have advocated the “work to rule” strategy during negotiations since the 70’s as a lighter touch before moving to possible strike action. 

The problem for employers is that the growing trend of ‘quiet quitting’ is coming at a time when they already face a struggle in recruiting new employees and therefore, they have become more dependent on fewer employees having to do more. Since the end of the pandemic, an increasing number of young workers have grown tired of not getting the recognition and compensation for putting in those extra hours.

In summary this isn’t a new phenomenon caused be a post pandemic drive for a better work life balance, or a TikTok fuelled fight by the young for more recognition and better pay. This situation is the rebranding of the age-old problem of ‘disengaged employees’ and employers would be wise to pay serious attention to this trend.

In the face of growing staff shortages, the ability of Companies to retain and engage their team has never been more important than now.  There are many factors that impact employee engagement, but three of the core consistent drivers over the last 20 years remain:

  1. The employee’s relationship with their immediate manager
  2. The employee’s trust and belief in the leadership team
  3. A sense of pride in working for the company

In the face of current recruitment and economic challenges, employee engagement and loyalty are more vital for business success than ever before. Whilst pride in the Company and trust in the leadership team are important the relationship between the employee and their line manager is paramount. 

When it comes to Company performance, specifically efficiency, sustained growth and innovation research has consistently shown that employees who are engaged significantly out-perform work groups that are not engaged. In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, having engaged employees must be the ultimate goal.

The relationship with their line manager is something employees will feel either negatively or positively every day, sometimes all day when working in small close knit environments. For many SME’s in particular this should be seen as a relatively easy opportunity to have a big impact on employee engagement.

So, when we’re looking at employee turnover and the kind of employee attitudes which indicate “quiet quitting” we must start to look at factors that increase engagement.  Treating employees with respect, genuine recognition, consideration of their wellbeing and work/life balance as well as sharing the rewards that encourage employees to strive for personal and team success; these staples of good employment will help avoid quitting of any kind.

If you would like to learn more about different ways to improve your employee engagement, please get in touch with us.

In the meantime, we will shortly be sending out our invitation to our Employment Law Update on 3rd November 2022 where we will look at this and other workplace trends. If you would like to join our mailing list to receive an invite please let us know.