Article: When your star employee is ‘quiet quitting’

Employee Engagement

When your star employee is ‘quiet quitting’

How can employers win back their most valuable players in the team? Luke Amundson of Peakon weighs in.
When your star employee is ‘quiet quitting’

Quiet quitting does not happen overnight but occurs over time as an individual becomes disillusioned with the organisation's perceived disinterest in them.

Signs of quiet quitting may include refusing to work longer during peak periods or declining to respond to email, chat, or other messages outside standard business hours.

An example of quiet quitting is an employee – who was previously known to work late and deliver outcomes that exceed expectations – now working only scheduled hours and completing the bare minimum needed to perform their role.

Read more: Beware the trend of 'quiet quitting'

“This disengagement typically occurs when employees, or managers, feel the organisation's leaders are not listening to them, are not inclined to help advance their careers, or are not interested in investing in developing their skills,” said Luke Amundson, Regional Director, Peakon, a Workday company.

“The shift to hybrid working means many people spend time working alone at their computers. If an employee only engages with people such as colleagues, customers, and their manager via chat or digital meetings, they may become increasingly disconnected and susceptible to quiet quitting.”

Amundson delved into the concept of quiet quitting as disengagement and how employers can work to turn the tide in this exclusive interview with People Matters.

Which employees are most likely to 'quiet quit' – and what drives them to this point?

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of hybrid and remote work and showed workers how to balance their personal and professional lives. As offices and other workplaces reopen, some employees are questioning how they work and whether their employers value them and their contribution. People who feel their work-life balance is skewed, or that their employer does not value them, or is unable to help them realise career ambitions are those most likely to 'quiet quit.' 

So how do employers meet the quiet quitting challenge? The answer is by engaging with employees and actively listening so they can determine how best to support them. For example, employees may want to retain the autonomy, and work-life balance achieved during the pandemic–and feel that their employer does not support this approach. Or they may feel isolated from the business and its culture and mission or fail to see a future within the organisation. They may also believe their skills are stagnating and the organisation is not interested in their development. Understanding these concerns and addressing them can build employee motivation and engagement–maximising the value of people to the organisation and helping insulate the business against the global skills shortage and war for talent.       

How do health, wellbeing, and outlook drive better productivity and performance?

People are at the centre of successful organisations, and employee wellbeing is a key enabler of business performance. Organisations need to facilitate the fair exchange of value between themselves and the individual to maximize employees' contributions. Getting this exchange right means employees feel their work has meaning and are motivated to improve their productivity and performance. 

Employee well-being extends well beyond traditional approaches that focus on productivity alone and employers need to adopt a holistic approach that prioritises mental welfare and physical health by introducing flexibility that enables individuals to manage their workloads more effectively. By doing this, employers can help their people achieve a sustainable balance between work and other priorities.

Read more: The good and the bad of quiet quitting        

At Workday, we recognise that the happier our people are, the better equipped they are to look after our customers. We apply a holistic approach to employee wellbeing through an internal programme that focuses on four core pillars: happiness, health, movement, and nutrition. We bring this approach to life through a range of wellbeing programmes and we listen closely to employee feedback so we can fine-tune the programme to be even more effective.

Businesses are increasingly recognising the importance of employee wellbeing to business performance. For example, Chorus, a New Zealand telecommunications and infrastructure provider, implemented Workday's Voice of the Employee platform and fundamentally changed the perception and management of wellbeing. This has positively impacted the team and the business. Shaun Philp, Chief People Officer at Chorus, says, "Workday has brought cultural engagement to the forefront of all our people, leaders, jobs, and responsibilities. It is allowing leaders to track engagement from a team level, but most importantly, it also allows the board and executive team to track overall engagement because it's engagement that drives culture, and it's culture that drives business performance."

How can employers combat quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting may appear to be surging. According to a World Economic Forum article published early in September, the hashtag #quietquitting had attracted 17 million plus views on TikTok by early September (a number that grew to over 115 million views just a few days later). The article also notes a McKinsey statement in July this year that 40% of the global workforce was looking to quit in the following three to six months. However, employers can turn the tide. 

Read more: Why quiet quitting is really about entitled employers

Active continuous listening facilitated by technology enables employers to monitor sentiment and act accordingly. These actions may range from standard weekly one-on-one conversations with team members to more sophisticated, organisation-wide programmes to address post-pandemic mental health concerns. Intelligent listening tools allow business leaders to capture employee feedback in real-time and respond with sophisticated measures that support employees and address quitting before it becomes a significant issue.

Ultimately, by placing people at the centre of the business, listening to them, and acting to improve engagement, productivity, and fulfilment, organisations can inoculate themselves against quiet quitting. They can position themselves instead to unleash the productivity, performance, and innovation that a motivated, hungry workforce can deliver. 

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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