What business leaders are getting wrong about quiet quitting

There are tons of articles and LinkedIn threads proclaiming that quiet quitting is a new and insidious trend which has the power to wreak serious havoc on businesses around the world.

Businesses already rocked by the Great Resignation.

But is it really such a big deal? Or have leaders got the wrong end of the stick?

What is quiet quitting?

Before we unpack the incorrect perceptions that may be at the heart of quiet quitting, let’s start with a definition.

So, what exactly is quiet quitting? Contrary to what you might have read, not all quiet quitters up sticks and leave.

Quiet quitting marks a shift in attitude - a stance that says you refuse to go above and beyond for your job. Employees who engage in quiet quitting continue to show up to work and do what’s asked of them but absolutely nothing more.

When we look at the bare facts of quiet quitting, that doesn’t really sound like a radical position or something that should send companies crashing to the ground.

So, why does quiet quitting have business leaders so scared?

The debate about quiet quitting

Many employers are put off by this trend because they perceive it as employees being unwilling to pull their weight.

Anyone who’s ever had a job knows that employees are commonly asked to do “extra” things that require them to stay later or perform tasks that aren’t exactly in their job description. 

For example, maybe you’re supposed to leave the office at 6 PM. But at ten to six, your boss asks you to type up a quick report and get it to him ASAP.

In order to finish the report, you'd have to work past 6 PM and you may miss out on the plans you had that evening. 

Often, employees feel pressured to accept extra work; they may feel that they can’t refuse or that they are in danger of losing their jobs if they do. As a result, employees often work harder and later than they should be required to.

That can lead to burnout, a lack of work/life balance and an overall sense of dissatisfaction. It's no surprise that many employees are fed up with this and looking for a change. As our 2022 Employee Benefits survey confirmed.

That’s where quiet quitting comes in. For many employees, quiet quitting is a way to redefine boundaries and prevent their employers from taking advantage of them. And in the worst-case scenario (for the employer) they might just leave.

When you refuse to go the extra mile, it’s a way of saying that there is more to your life than your job and that you refuse to sacrifice your peace for a company that doesn’t care about you. 

Let's face it, some employers are simply annoyed because they've taken advantage of employees for some time. Those who rely on this tactic, therefore, have good reason to be unsettled by quiet quitting.

Asking people to do more without offering raises, bonuses or other incentives is one way to save money, but that could come at a hefty price. 

The average cost of replacing an employee earning £25,000 a year or more is £30,614 (Oxford Economics and Unum). So for the sake of a company's bank balance, team morale and reputation, a commitment to improving retention is key.

But is quiet quitting something all businesses should worry about?

Why your company shouldn’t fear quiet quitting

The reality is that there’s nothing wrong with employees having boundaries. Employees are people, not worker bots, and they have lives, dreams, and ambitions outside of work. 

This is especially true for students working part-time to fund their degrees and working parents on low-income salaries who are simply desperate to provide for their families.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these employees are unwilling to stay late, go the extra mile, or do additional work for free.

And that’s not refusing to pull your weight - that’s refusing to be used. The truth is companies who treat their employees well have no reason to fear quiet quitting simply because it won’t happen to them.

If you treat your employees like human beings, like valuable resources who deserve to be supported and protected, your employees are unlikely to feel as though they’re being taken advantage of in the first place. 

If your job descriptions are clear, fair, and accurate - and you don’t add a bunch of other stuff to someone’s role - then your employees are likely already doing everything their role requires.

And if their responsibilities increase, they need to be fairly compensated. Friday pizza parties won't cut it.

You won’t have to ask them to do extra work for free because everyone is already doing their bit. So, when you consider these things, it deflates all the fear out of quiet quitting.

On the surface, this trend might look like slacking off or giving up, but in reality, it’s a quiet way of enforcing boundaries, knowing your value and not settling for less.

And companies with a positive culture won’t be threatened by that because they will encourage it in the first place. 

Speaking of, these articles cover how to create core values and build a great company culture - and that involves a culture of recognition and reward.

Equity is an amazing way to reward your hard-working team and encourage them to stick around. Learn more about employee share schemes or book a free consultation to speak to an expert.