By | Charlie Fletcher
The working world has been through it all as of late: global pandemics, lingering lockdowns, protracted supply chain disruptions, and threats of a devastating worldwide recession. These last few years have been tough for individuals and businesses alike, and the challenges are continuing.
Your employees feel it. They’re likely tired, frustrated, and unmotivated. It’s perhaps little wonder, then, that the phenomenon of quiet quitting has emerged and is taking the world of work by storm. But what is quiet quitting, exactly, and how can an improvement in company culture mitigate its threat to your organization?
Goodbye, Hustle Culture; Hello, Quiet Quitting
The quiet quitting phenomenon originated largely as a talking point on the internet. From TikTok to LinkedIn, the discussion of quiet quitting went viral among business leaders, labor experts, and disgruntled workers alike.
Quiet quitting, fundamentally, refers to practices in which workers embrace minimal performance standards for themselves, in which they do only what is required of them in the workplace and nothing more. For some quiet quitters, the strategy may even mean deliberately and consistently failing to meet minimum performance standards in order to compel employers to terminate them or to furlough them first when cutbacks are at hand.
Quiet quitting is often seen as the antithesis of the hustle culture phenomenon that has prevailed in recent decades. Unlike employees enrobed in hustle culture, quiet quitters do not want to stand out. They do not want to make themselves indispensable to the company. They do not volunteer for special projects. They do not stay late or come in early. And they do not strive to exceed performance benchmarks.
However, while these attributes might seem to be the hallmarks of indolence and apathy, often what they actually often signify is a suboptimal company culture, one that does not inspire and motivate employees as it could or should.
Motivating Through Career Planning
As inauspicious as it may seem at first glance, quiet quitting is often not at all about slothfulness or a lack of ambition. Rather, it is often a pretty rational response to a perceived lack of opportunities and fulfillment in the employee’s professional life.
They may feel unmotivated and inspired because they do not sense that their employer understands or supports them in their career goals and that, ultimately, their current role is a professional dead-end.
If your employees are performing to only minimal standards, it may well be that they are unwilling to invest in and commit to an organization that is unwilling to invest in and commit to them for the long term. But by offering professional development opportunities and a clear career plan that aligns with the employee’s interests, aptitudes, and goals, you are likely to find that your team is more motivated, engaged, and effective than ever before.
A Little Competition Can’t Hurt
Let’s face it, we’re a competitive species. There is a thrill in distinguishing oneself from one’s peers. Above all, there’s something intensely satisfying in competing against yourself, in striving to outperform your previous personal best.
This is why creating a culture of healthy competition can be a powerful way to prevent quiet quitting in your company. The key is to ensure that the competition ultimately supports rather than undermines the overall culture. You want the competition to be fun and lighthearted, even when it’s serious.
If it becomes adversarial, then it’s going to be toxic. Fortunately, you can still leverage the benefits of competition without pitting your staff against one another. For instance, try creating fun categories, such as the “most creative” project idea or “the best marketing email,” you’re going to lend a spirit of fun to the competition while still motivating employees to strive harder — especially if you offer prizes such as a small monetary bonus, a free dinner for the employee and their family or an additional day of paid time off (PTO).
You can also juice the competition by inspiring employees to compete against their own personal bests. Offer bonuses and other perks for workers who demonstrate the greatest improvement on specific metrics, such as sales or productivity measures, for a given week or month.
Remember That Nothing Overcomes a Bad Culture
When it comes to preventing quiet quitting among your team, the most important thing to remember is that nothing can overcome a bad culture. If your employees are laboring under the burden of a villainous work environment, nothing short of a cultural overhaul will stop it.
That process starts with you as the leader. If you want your employees to give their all, then you must first give your all. If you want the best from your staff, then you must give them the best in return. If you want them to invest and engage, then you must invest in and engage with them.
Quiet quitting is real and ubiquitous but that doesn’t mean it has to infect your company. With effort and commitment, you can prevent quiet quitting among your workers by striving to create a supportive and motivational company culture.