The term “quiet quitting” has been thrown around a lot lately. But why now, and what’s driving it?
For starters, there is nothing new about “quiet quitting”. Disengagement has been running rampant in the workforce for years now, and this new term is simply a buzzier version of the same tired problem. “Only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace, and only about 20% say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work” (Gallup, State of the American Workplace).
What Drives Engagement?
Disengagement happens when a leader, team or employee loses their connection with the company and its goals. This doesn’t just happen at the top or bottom of an organization, but at every level, every department and in every role. Just like any relationship, losing connection can happen for a variety of reasons and at a variety of speeds. Sometimes it takes one bad interaction to create a different perspective. Sometimes it’s served by a thousand cuts culminating into a final straw or the slow fade into quiet acceptance.
What is the Root Cause of Disengagement?
One way to combat this professional epidemic is to have a fully-fleshed out, clear vision your team can hold on to. Think of it as the tether that holds an astronaut to a spacecraft while they’re going on a space walk. If the tether wasn’t there, the astronaut would simply float off into space. That tether, your vision, is what keeps everyone connected to the purpose of why you’re doing what you’re doing. It is the key element that keeps you engaged and makes the work meaningful. Without it, your team is a bunch of astronauts lost in space.
Vision can be hard to come by at organizations. I’ve very recently heard of executives being forced to put together a budget without having a strategic plan in place. This is at the most senior levels and for critical decisions like spending. The good news is that you can always set a vision for your department, your team, or even yourself. Creating vision, intention and goals is not just the responsibility of the president, so use this as an opportunity to strengthen your own skill to better serve yourself and your team.
There are additional ways you can keep your employees engaged in their work. First, recognize and appreciate your employees. The work they are putting in has taken a lot of time and energy, so coming in with a simple “Great job on this project,” or “Thank you for all your hard work on this” will make a world of difference for your team. And don’t wait for the extraordinary to show appreciation. Consider expanding your signs of gratitude for meeting expectations, not reserving it for over-achievers. Second, keep an open line of communication with your employees. Be a resource and a guide for them. If your employees don’t feel like they can reach out to you for help, or that they have no one to share their frustrations or struggles with, they’ll disconnect themselves from their work.
The one opportunity we all have to regain connection and stop quiet quitting is through effective leadership.
It is not always the fault of the leader, but the leader needs to do everything in their power to keep their employees connected. If the company isn’t able to repair that disengagement, that can cause the organization to spiral out of control. There will be nothing for the employees to align with. The company’s vision is the essence of the organization, and the lack of one may be an indicator that you are lacking leadership.
There are so many different ways to improve employee engagement it all boils down to motivation, productivity and satisfaction. At the end of the day, your employees want to feel like they are a part of a team, and it is up to you and your employees to make that happen. Leadership is about people, and I would have to charge our disengagement epidemic, our quiet quitting movement, to a simple lack of leadership.
If you are looking for new ways for your team to build core leadership skills like vision, or need some help inspiring them with the one you have, let’s talk! The Emerging Leader Experience program connects with your quiet quitters as well as your high performers to provide a solid leadership foundation so your company can grow.