Darin Myers is the local facilitator of The Alternative Board (TAB), a peer-to-peer advisory board designed to help company leaders maximize their opportunities and work through challenges. Darin recently retired after a 30-year career in the nuclear industry as the leader of Plant Vogtle I and II. He has proven success in strategic planning and alignment, employee development, organizational performance improvement, accountability, and coaching. Recently, he started a family business in Augusta focused on home health care, providing him the knowledge and experience surrounding small- to medium-sized business operators.
Quiet quitting. It’s the latest business buzz, and a sizzling hot topic on social media and throughout the employment and HR sectors. Depending on whom you ask, quiet quitting either refers to workers establishing healthy boundaries within their employment dynamic or them setting the perfunctory job bar as low as possible.
Quiet quitting is not really about quitting altogether, but rather performing one’s duties to a bare minimum standard.
Weary business owners, still reeling from the Great Resignation and other post-pandemic labor issues, have been trying like gangbusters to increase employee retention. But retention might not be a good thing if those employees are unenthusiastic and furtively not producing what they should or could be.
Whether self-advocates or slackers, quiet quitters just might be quietly undermining the growth and profitability of your business.
The Psychology Behind Quiet Quitting
While there are certainly other factors at play, the increase in quiet quitting seems to be directly related to the rise of the modern employment dynamic. Today’s employees, particularly the younger ones, tend to consider their work engagements as both transitory and strictly transactional, thus, they lack the above-and-beyond mentality associated with a desire to climb the company ladder. Mostly gone are the days of those plucky kids starting their careers in the mailroom and working their way up to the C-suite.
While apathy related to performance and personal career growth is arguably indicative of a limiting employee mindset, perhaps, more importantly, it may also be a strong telltale of unsatisfactory company culture.
How Does Company Culture Play Into Quiet Quitting?
Businesses that hire and reward workers who possess a positive personal growth mindset tend to avoid the pitfalls of quiet quitting. Furthermore, businesses with mentorship and career development programs are better able to hire and retain growth-minded talent.
It’s about creating and fostering a company culture that embraces and incentivizes growth, training, and advancement. And that starts in the job interview.
To prevent hiring quiet quitters, business owners and HR directors should vet job candidates for past promotions, industriousness, and other factors that tend to represent conscientiousness, diligence, and drive. Then hire those people and reward them well for exceeding performance expectations.
It’s about creating a company culture of growth and excellence from the ground up.
Ways to Identify Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitters tend to be chronically and almost overtly disengaged. While quiet quitters likely consider meeting attendance as a basic requirement, they don’t actively participate in discussions or group activities. Their productivity and performance, while generally fine at face value, never surpass minimum expectations.
Another indication that an employee is quiet quitting is when other team members complain about taking up the quiet quitter’s extra workload.
Are Quiet Quitters Worth Salvaging?
The sad but true answer is maybe, maybe not. Accepting underperformers or just-good-enough producers can disincentivize your entire team, stymie innovation and dramatically decrease profitability.
But don’t give those quiet quitters their walking papers just yet.
Once you suspect an employee is a quiet quitter, consider scheduling a meeting with them during their standard workday. Keep in mind that this conversation can be a little tricky, as these employees are technically not doing anything wrong. Discuss their expectations, how they rate their performance, where they see themselves in the future, and ideas they might have for the business.
From there, you will likely have a better read of whether this employee brings value to your business now and in the long term. If the answer to that question is no, then begin the recruitment and hiring process with a much better understanding of the drive and performance you expect of your next great hire.