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Why is Quiet Quitting Making so Much Noise?

I’ve noticed a lot of information and dialogue on social media regarding the latest workplace buzzwords of Quiet Quitting and was curious as to what is driving the conversation.

According to Wikipedia – Quiet Quitting is an application of work-to-rule, in which employees work within defined work hours and engage solely in activities within those hours. Some indicate this phenomenon is connected to a residual impact of Covid 19 and the Great Resignation.  Many working from home and on the front lines during Covid experienced higher than normal workloads or found it difficult to disconnect from work. The Great Resignation was a sign that employees were feeling the strain and seeking to take control of their work lives.  Is Quiet Quitting another sign?

Is it about exhaustion or engagement? The Wikipedia definition sounds different than another I’ve heard of that Quiet Quitting is where employees do the bare minimum at their workplace. This type of Quiet Quitting impacts the emotional investment employees might have with their work and the ability for organizations to function productively. It may well cause conflicts as some employees will feel others aren’t carrying their weight? We all know the impact on colleagues and the workplace when engagement is poor. My colleague Blaine Donais has outlined this in his Head Down Theory where he explores the connection between workplace fairness and engagement.

Wikipedia also states unlike work-to-rule, the primary objective of quiet quitting is not to disrupt the workplace, but rather to avoid occupational burnout and to pay more attention to one’s mental health and personal well-being. There’s a difference between better work-life balance and being disengaged. Most employees are proud of the work they do and the contributions they make. They want to have a positive impact in their workplaces but may encounter barriers to being fully engaged.   I urge all organizations in our post Covid workplaces to focus on what those barriers may be and promote employee mental health and well being.

It is possible to maintain healthy boundaries and remain emotionally invested at work.  This can be achieved by exploring how and when we do our work, the expectations we have of ourselves and to clarity of roles and responsibilities.  We can look at what might need to change in our meetings, emails, work hours, collaboration tools and other activities to better meet our needs and continue to meet the organization’s needs.  Our experience with Covid has created the opportunity to reconsider these work-life needs and how we want to balance them.

I get the sense that quiet quitting in theory and in practice can look different for every individual. These differences are real and should be respected and handled appropriately.  Organizations and leaders need to keep the lines of communication open by facilitating discussions for employees that focus on these and other emerging issues.  This will give an opportunity to build understanding and find solutions that will meet these ever changing needs.

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