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10 Ways Employers Can Address ‘Quiet Quitting’ at Work

The Silent Resignation has behavioral economics implications for employers.

Key points

  • Quiet quitting refers to workers doing the bare minimum required during specific work hours.
  • People crave meaning and purpose in their work but feel they are not getting it.
  • Gen Z and Millennials are burned out and want more flexible and purposeful work that does good in the world.
  • According to a new global study, the four-day workweek is a win-win for businesses and employees.

While "quiet quitting" is not about quitting work per se, employees realize their work does not define their worth. As a result, they set boundaries where they meet the minimum work requirements within specific working hours. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to improved mental health.

 Miljan Živković/AdobeStock
Source: Miljan Živković/AdobeStock

However, there are both negative and positive implications for both the employee and employer, which need to be considered.

Benefits of Quiet Quitting for Employees:

  • Decreased stress, which can improve mental and physical health, relationships, and overall well being
  • Improved work-life balance, which affords more time for friends, family, leisure, and self-care

Benefits of Quiet Quitting for Employers:

  • Decreased employee burnout which can lead to low productivity, absenteeism, turnover, healthcare costs, accidents, and injury
  • Improved employee morale

The Downside of Quiet Quitting for Employees:

The decrease in effort or productivity may:

  • Negatively impact rapport or relationships with your supervisor, coworkers, or supervisees.
  • Decrease the opportunity for upward mobility in your career.
  • Reduce your feeling of connectedness with your organization which can negatively impact leadership capacity.
  • Reduce your interest in professional development or opportunities for growth and learning.

For these reasons, it is recommended that employees who are quietly quitting consider talking to a therapist or career counselor who can help them make sure they are not causing self-sabotage but rather are continuing to work in a way that is smarter and fosters work-life balance.

The Downside of Quiet Quitting for Employers:

  • Employees tend to become taskmasters instead of self-initiators or leaders
  • Productivity may be low
  • Attitude and motivation may be poor
  • Less ambition, drive, and willingness to go above and beyond
  • Less loyalty to the company
  • Less engagement in a community culture, which decreases morale
  • Less collaboration in teams that leads to improved problem-solving and progress and evolution within the organization

As a psychotherapist, corporate speaker, and trainer with over 20 years of experience, I've shared how to create a more inclusive work environment with leaders of organizations of all sizes, where workers feel more valued, thereby improving employee retention. There are unique opportunities to attract and keep top talent in times like these.

Ten Ways Management Can Address Quiet Quitting

  1. Have realistic expectations about workload and hours for employees. As employees become clearer about their work boundaries and the number of hours they will work, positive mental health implications exist. Decreased employee burnout can lead to improved productivity, less absenteeism and turnover, lower healthcare costs, and fewer accidents and injury on the job, thereby improving your company’s bottom line.
  2. Foster work-life balance by promoting as much flexibility as possible in work schedules. Options include providing the ability to work remotely or using a hybrid workplace model. To address this, some employers are exploring a four-day workweek. That may be four ten-hour days or four eight-hour days. A new global study found this to be a huge win-win for businesses and their employees.
  3. Cultivate a company culture of conscious leadership and psychological safety. Staff should feel comfortable talking honestly about burnout and other mental health or personal challenges that may be impacting their work. The pandemic has been a global, collective, chronic trauma that has triggered many mental health implications, including clinical burnout, which has negatively impacted productivity in the workplace. According to the World Health Organization, 745,000 people die per year from overwork and burnout. It’s easy to see why burnout is the leading cause of resignation. A recent study² reveals that most Americans (89 percent) who left their job in 2021 or were planning to leave in the near future said they felt burned out and unsupported.
  4. Provide wellness benefits. Look for ways to provide health and wellness perks and emotional support to improve work-life balance and keep your employees healthy and happy. Consider Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), corporate subscriptions to mindfulness apps like Calm or Headspace, routine webinars, and in-person training on topics from mental health to nutrition. Decreased stress can improve mental and physical health, relationships, finances, and overall well-being. Improved work-life balance affords more time for friends, family, leisure, and self-care.
  5. Foster a collaborative community. I regularly hear from many of my client companies that in today’s changing workforce dynamics, it’s common to see employees become taskmasters instead of self-initiators or leaders. To address this, have regular Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) trainings, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and mentoring programs, so employees feel seen, heard, valued, and supported. Provide professional development and opportunities for learning and growth, and foster relationships with mentors who could be key in shaping future career success.
  6. Incentivize employees. Introduce financial bonuses for reaching certain benchmarks so employees are more motivated to work harder. Look to give opportunities for promotion or advancement within the company or other financial returns.
  7. Show appreciation. Give more public acknowledgment and appreciation of individuals who go above and beyond for the company. In a recent Society for Human Research Management survey, 80 percent of organizations reported having an employee recognition program.
  8. Make your mission matter. According to a recent Deloitte survey, Gen Z and Millennials are feeling burned out and want more flexible and purposeful work that drives societal change in an organization that does good in the world. Routinely remind staff of your company mission statement in meetings or in communications to cultivate a deeper sense of meaning and purpose to their work and a sense of belonging.
  9. A healthy organization starts at the top. Make sure your top leaders and managers are feeling supported and energized. Consider a management retreat or in-person gathering to address mental health issues.
  10. Always aim to approve. Conduct 360-degree reviews and anonymous employee satisfaction surveys to identify areas of needed improvement. Employees may find clarity in what specific areas of need they are lacking by completing a self-help work satisfaction wheel, an innovative tool I developed.

As "quiet quitting" is here to stay, employers and leaders have opportunities for improved mental health and work-life balance for employers and employees alike. Consider a corporate wellness program like The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life to encourage healthy workplace dynamics that allow both you and your employees to thrive.

To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

References

https://www.joyce-marter.com/book/the-financial-mindset-fix/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021002208

https://cengage.widen.net/s/78hrkqgfj7/cg-great-resigners-research-repo…

https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surve…

https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surve…

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