Quiet quitting, a phrase which emerged on social media last year, refers to the act of showing up to work with the intention of doing no more than what is required in your job description.
It has been an ongoing problem for years. However, by labelling it as quiet quitting, it has been brought to the forefront of business leaders’ minds as they continue to battle a strange and evolving talent pool. In fact, 80% of small business leaders say they are still experiencing issues with recruitment and staff retention.
Some SME leaders may see that higher wellbeing and lower engagement threatens their own success as they continue to struggle with growth, productivity, and engagement. However, it is more nuanced than that. For example, quiet quitting may not seem like such a bad thing to some. In comparison to workaholics – the extremely engaged worker – quiet quitters have better stress management (26%) and are less likely to suffer from burnout (24%). However, quiet quitters are also less likely to have a growth mindset. That is, they are more likely to view talent and intelligence as pre-existing skills and in turn, are less invested in their own development.
Quiet quitting is not going away. Recent research from BetterUp found that 1 in 3 UK workers are quiet quitting. It is essential that small and medium business leaders take appropriate steps to acknowledge and address this trend. But what is causing this trend to take off and how can SME leaders intervene?
Taking an active approach
The two leading causes behind quiet quitting, according to our research, are poor leadership and workplace culture.
The key difference between quiet quitters and those who have found the sweet spot between work-life balance (“workplace thrivers” as we call them) is that the latter are more likely to come from a culture of psychological safety and coaching within their organisations and as such, have a 24% greater sense of belonging.
A psychologically safe workplace is one in which workers feel safe to express their ideas and present their authentic selves without judgement. Leaders are key to implementing this culture across the team, and when done so correctly, this can have a major impact on retention. Indeed, BetterUp has found that those with a stronger sense of belonging are 34% more likely to stay in their organisation.
In order to address quiet quitting, it is essential that SME leaders recognise their own role in creating an engaged workforce. In doing so, it will allow them to address the key issues facing their businesses: growth and retention.
Investing in your people
Although quiet quitters generally fare better with overall wellbeing, the changing nature of the workplace can still take its toll.
Business leaders need to demonstrate to employees that they prioritise their health and wellbeing so they can show up as their best selves and feel good about their day-to-day work. This in turn leads to them having greater investment and engagement in the organisation.
Health and wellbeing benefits are an especially great way to improve productivity and engagement at work, with two thirds of SMEs stating that offering health and well-being benefits to staff has helped boost productivity. Moreover, 22% rated health and well-being benefits as being critical for ensuring high productivity. SME leaders can use this as an opportunity to engage employees and determine what specific or unique benefits may be best to help employees thrive.
Upgrading well-being benefits packages like corporate-sponsored gym memberships and wellness classes, or even professional coaching for your employees, are great ways to help employees feel their best at work.
Offer opportunities to grow
BetterUp’s research found that while 34% are quiet quitting, 14% have managed to find balance between work and life. This group are not only more satisfied with their life and work, but are also more focused, better at strategic planning and are more goal driven in the workplace.
An important part of workplace engagement is the work itself. Employees want to feel like the work that they do matters, which means it needs to challenge them, and serve a purpose. Moreover, in providing employees with opportunities for growth and development, business leaders demonstrate that they are as invested in their growth as the employees themselves should be.
Our research found that low purpose and meaning at work doubled the likelihood of quiet quitting. Investing in your staff’s learning and development, as well as their wellbeing, is a sure-fire way to improve overall workplace engagement.
As the challenges facing SMEs continue, so too does quiet quitting.
It is imperative that small and medium business leaders continue to prioritise the engagement of their employees. In doing so, they not only prove themselves to be hyperaware of the core issues impacting their workers, but also look to address the economic issues impacting their business.
By Dr. Erin Eatough – Director, BetterUp Lab