Engaged Employees Don't Quietly Quit

We’ve experienced “quiet” or “ghost” quitting by disgruntled workers over the years, but it has become common enough recently to earn an official name. “Quiet quitting” means that you still do your job, but limit your effort to the minimum required, never going above and beyond what you absolutely have to do. Today’s employees are much more than disgruntled. They are overworked, burned out, and have had it with employers that don’t show they care about them.

No one, company or individual, benefits from this trend which talent guru, Josh Bersin, calls “dumb.” I couldn’t agree more. Dumb, but real, quiet quitting reduces productivity, lowers morale, and infects your culture with negativity. What can you do to protect your people and workplace from it? Start by taking a hard look at how your employees experience working for you. Are your policies and practices changing with the times, meeting expectations? Are your people engaged in their work or simply passing time in a culture that supports quiet quitting?

Mostly an Employer Problem

Leaders should see quiet quitting as an employer problem, not a people problem. Work has changed forever. Employees understand that. Too many leaders don’t. It began years ago with the fundamental changes in expectations of Millennial and Gen-Z employees as they joined older, more status quo-accepting peers in the workforce. Change was set in stone with the tumult of the pandemic—and there is no more status quo.

People want more and different things from work today and they’re no longer willing to settle for less. They’re asking for the chance to learn, grow, and find purpose in their work—and the flexibility to take full advantage of those opportunities. They want to be seen holistically, not as employees in particular roles, but as people with families and interests outside work. They have a need to feel valued and be fulfilled. Rather than change with the times, many employers are doing exactly the opposite of what employees are demanding of them.

Employees want you to allow them to choose where and when to work rather than arbitrarily making them return to the office even when it makes no difference to productivity. They want to establish a trusting relationship with you rather than being constantly monitored. They want you to understand their skills and ensure they can apply them in their role. And they want your support in their development and the opportunity to apply for internal job opportunities when they feel stuck in their role or just want a new challenge. People want a human-centric work environment with leaders who show they care about their wellbeing on and off the job.

This is the direction all companies should be headed, not just because it’s what employees want. But because being human-centric is good for business. When employees are engaged and productive, growth and greater profits naturally follow.

Get Close to Camelot

I like to think of human-centric cultures as Camelot communities. These are rare and special workplaces where employers dare to care about their people. Leaders listen, show empathy and kindness, communicate transparently, aren’t afraid of vulnerability, and respect and value others. They always put their people first and focus on creating equally positive experiences for both employees and customers. These are the great leaders of today—and anyone who sets their mind to it can learn to become one.

Employers that pay attention and are willing to change create irresistible workplaces and will never have to worry about recruiting and retaining top talent, much less the impacts of quiet quitters. Instead, they’re increasing both engagement and retention levels, which can dramatically improve productivity and save hiring costs. Quiet quitting is a wake-up call. Use it to create a Camelot community where your people and your business reach their full potential. Today, no one should settle for less.

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