The term “quiet quitters” seems to be floating around; it’s in the news, articles, survey results and conversations at the office. It’s a clever term that brings attention to serious matter impacting organizations. Some say the words describe a common problem felt by organizations for quite some time. But it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a just new term, quiet quitting is real and affecting your organization, your teams, the well-being of many employees. The description of a “Quiet quitter” is an employee that just does the bare minimum, they are detached, definitely demotivated, and probably feeling undervalued. Our surroundings globally and domestically are not helping either, but rather making the problem much more obvious and maybe even contagious.
I don’t want to make it seem simple and unimportant, but I feel that many organizations overlook the obvious, the solution is not really that complex. Changing a culture in your organization might take time, but not addressing it could lead to burnout, loss of productivity, inability to hold on to your employees. The difficult part is taking the first step, and sometimes that means admitting it’s happening in your organization. The execution, the consistency, and the patience to see it through won’t be easy, but definitely doable.
Did you know that a recent Gallup survey found that 50% of our workforce is quiet quitting. That means 50% of our workforce is doing just what is needed to get by and they are detached from their jobs. The survey also found that an additional 18% are actively disengaged, and those tend to be the most vocal in their dissatisfaction and unmet needs. The numbers are impactful, it’s understandable that your teams and organizations are feeling the pain in demotivation, underproduction and challenged retention; and yet even worse the employees that are sticking with you are picking up the extra work and responsibilities, they are really feeling the overwhelm and burn out.
The first thing that needs to happen to start moving the needle in the other direction is to start bringing our “human skills” back into our organizations. Our managers need to be engaged with their teams. There are three critical things they need to add to their toolbox: mindset, relationships and communication. Things have changed; the way we used to incorporate these into our leadership is not the same, our working environments, employee expectations and life values have shifted, our leaders need to shift too.
The mindset of our leaders needs to be focused on the well-being of their teams and themselves; really understanding their needs, ideas, goals and values. When our leaders demonstrate that care and empathy, they are modeling a behavior that shows that they are invested in making sure our employees are happy and satisfied. A happy and satisfied employee is creative, productive and seeking new challenges.
The communication we have needs to shift in a direction of being less directive to being more open to ideas, more often to allow for feedback and feed forward. When we begin to engage in more productive conversations, asking more questions, seeking to learn more about the way others think, the things that they are passionate about and the things that keep them up at night we are entering a new dimension of trust and understanding. We are learning and helping them learn. We need to communicate more often and more effectively.
And finally, our relationships need to grow and be maintained. Our conversations don’t only happen in formal meetings, we need to intentionally seek out informal opportunities to build new and more relationships. By building relationships, we create an environment of trust and support, our feedback is welcomed and sought out. Our teams know we have their back and are genuinely interested in their success and wellbeing.
It’s like a formula: leadership = mindset + communication + relationships. These skills are human skills, a.k.a. emotional intelligence skills. These skills are not easy but they are in our human tool box, re-skilling our managers with emotional intelligence will start moving the needle to a culture of change, empowerment, innovation and growth.