The general definition of quiet quitting is when an employee does not go above and beyond, but just does the bare minimum to get by. If your positions and job descriptions are correct, and your management is doing their part, then this “bare minimum” should be the actual job…right?
To do the bare minimum, they are doing enough to not be written up or disciplined. They are completing all tasks in a properly written job description (you have those, and they are updated right?). Which again, means they are doing their job properly. If they fall below these requirements, then a coaching/discipline should be administered. Which brings us to an area to question: Is management doing their part? Management/owners should set the expectations and follow through with rewarding those that exceed them, appreciate those who meet them, and help improve those who are below expectations. If the expectations are not communicated clearly and there is no follow up, that is management’s error, not the employee’s. A good workforce planning strategy and outline can take care of that.
The United States alone has over 330 million people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 168 million are of working age. I hate to tell you this, but not all 168 million are good workers and/or worth promoting. Some of them are just workers, doing what is asked of them, doing the bare minimum. Companies need that. Companies need employees to do the job that they are assigned. Those that go above and beyond are helpful and may be promoted, get bigger raises, and/or move on to have better opportunities in other companies. A lot of people will not be go-getters, but they are still valuable. They provide the service/work that is needed for that company to continue and take care of the customers. Quiet quitters might actually be the backbone of many industries!
Now is where we make a difference between actual hard workers who do “just the job” and people that complain and “quiet quit.” If you have an employee who was doing well, going above and beyond and they stop, likely that will be noticed. This gives management an opportunity to speak with that person(s) and look into what is going on. It may be an overwhelming workload that requires hiring more staff, it may be burnout and they need new tasks or challenges to reengage, or they have evaluated that they just want the job and not the extra or may want to work somewhere else. All of this is valuable information for management and decision making.
There is also the possibility that someone quiet quits and it isn’t noticed, because they really weren’t very good in the first place, they just thought they were. Perhaps people who intentionally quiet quit, just want attention. They could be worth the attention, but we need to look at that closer as shown in the above paragraph. Again, your updated and accurate job descriptions help shake this out.
Harvard Business Review did an article titled, “When Quiet Quitting is Worse Than the Real Thing.” Is it? Their reasoning is that when someone stops going above and beyond, that additional work falls on someone else. Why is that happening? If any employee is doing THAT much extra work, you likely need to hire additional staff. If that isn’t happening, it goes back to management doing their part. This may not show directly in one person, but if a team has quiet quitters and all the extra work is enough for an additional person, why hasn’t that happened? Workforce planning comes into play here.
Is everyone doing the bare minimum a quiet quitter? No. Some people just want to work and go home and that’s okay. That’s actually a good thing. If everyone were great workers and got promoted, who would be left to do the work?
Overall, quiet quitting isn’t a new thing just, a new name. it’s been going on for at least a couple of centuries or more. There was likely a squire who decided that extra polish on the knight’s shield wasn’t necessary because they were just going to get it dirty again. However, it could be a symptom that other items (policies, job descriptions, management) needs to be addressed.