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Should businesses embrace quiet quitting?

This new trend could transform work culture for good.

A new article from the Australian HR Institute argues that quiet quitting is “an opportunity to do better.” In this blog, we take a look at their advice for transforming work culture from within, but first, what is quiet quitting and should you be worried about it?

Contrary to its name, quiet quitting isn’t about quitting at all. It’s about keeping your head down and getting on with the job. The term “quiet quitting” comes from a US TikTok video and describes a worker who gets their duties done while rejecting “hustle culture” and the idea of “going above and beyond”. The idea is said to be inspired by the Chines concept of “lying flat” – a movement designed to rebel against long work hours.

So, should employers be worried? Aaron McEwan, VP, Research & Advisory, Gartner thinks not:

“Quiet quitting is just people saying, there’s more than life to work. Do I want to live or work?”

Reflecting on quiet quitting provides an opportunity for employers to completely reimagine how they approach work-life balance and how they measure what a “great” employee looks like. Here are some of the ways that employers can design “engaging and productive work cultures” according to the Australian HR Institute.

1. Reduce organisational drag

During the pandemic, employees picked up “discretionary tasks” as businesses scrambled to find new ways of working and many have never put them down. This extra and sometimes unrecognised work has left them exhausted. Workloads should now be reexamined to find out which tasks are adding value and to discover opportunities to increase meaningful labour. Some tasks may need to be cut altogether while others can be automated or made more efficient to ensure that work is purposeful and valuable – for both the individual and the company.

2. Reflect on social power

Millennials and Gen Z will soon make up the majority of the workforce. Although research has shown that millennials do sometimes overwork, this new combined demographic is more likely to challenge old ways of thinking and to do it socially. A light is being shone on work cultures and this can end badly for

companies that pressurise employees to overwork. If you don’t want your bad habits aired online, change them.

3. Give workers the resources they need

It’s tough to think innovatively or embrace meaningful work when you’re constantly drowning under your workload. Employers must give workers the tools and support they need to get tasks done effectively and efficiently inside working hours. Aaron McEwan says simply:

“It’s very hard to do your best work when you’re overworked, when you’re lacking sleep and when you’re unhealthy.”

Businesses should assess their current state to find opportunities to improve.

4. Make work exciting

Boring work = disengaged employees. Of course, not every job can be exciting all of the time – in fact, that would be exhausting in itself. But providing opportunities to practice and grow new skills and enjoy new experiences can be a good way to keep a role fresh and engaging for workers at all levels.

5. Rethink incentives

If you want employees to go beyond the boundaries of a role, you have to reward them. As economic challenges see people and businesses everywhere feeling the squeeze, many workers have not had a pay rise, promotion, or reward in many years. It’s little wonder that they don’t want to continue to deliver more when they feel they are not recognised or rewarded for their efforts. Even if financial rewards are off the table, non-monetary compensation can have a positive effect on employee engagement – from training and development opportunities to extra time away from the office.

Work is changing and employees are asking for more from their bosses. Are you prepared to face quiet quitting? And what will you do to make sure workers feel engaged and appreciated in a shifting financial and social climate?