• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

Quiet quitting – Another workforce pandemic

Jennifer Oyelade

Like any workforce, the employment cycle rotates. An employee leaves, and the vacant position is refilled through succession plan initiatives or an external hire.

But what happens when the wheel keeps turning with no insight into its frequency? Why are people just “quietly” leaving with no tangible reason as to why? Even when the Human Resources department conducts an exit interview, and reviews the report; there is no “real” indication as to why an employee who demonstrated extreme potential, an inclusive team player and an integral member of a thriving department wakes up one morning and decides to resign.

The truth is, it wasn’t something that stemmed overnight, the organisation neglected the change in his or her behaviour. They didn’t see the park burn out and this is the result of a workforce pandemic called “Quiet Quitting”.

A “quiet quitter” is an employee who performs the minimum requirement of their job and puts in no additional time, effort, or enthusiasm, and then necessary to get by under the façade that they are being “productive” but in reality, they are working strictly within the “satisfactory” bandwidth.

These employees are less likely to stay late, show up early, or attend non-mandatory meetings. In a nutshell, these employees will not contribute to anything that does not sit within their job description nor will they go above and beyond to demonstrate their passion for their craft in their attempt to grow and thrive within the organisation on the path to career progression.

While these groups of employees have always been in existence, they have managed to stay tucked away amongst high-performing employees who have carried them along.

Now organisations are feeling the strain of the economic crisis, and operating a lean management system, key performance indicators have increased to stay afloat in the market which has shed more light on the average performers.

Meanwhile, the underlying factors that are causing the increase of the “quiet quitter” are these:

A) Pay Discrepancy: This is a common affliction that affects a lot of professionals today due to the lack of air-tight corporate governance structures and policies. You will find that there are underlying grey areas surrounding the justification of salary differences, and as a result, the level of equality amongst employees is compromised. Here, unjustified salary benchmarks, based on factors like service length, education, and foreign experience, create dissatisfaction among employees. Discovering that a peer with similar skills earns more for undisclosed reasons signals a major concern and prompts employees to explore new opportunities.

B) Blurred Boundaries: These are where there is an invisible line between expected deliverables against tangible KPIs as opposed to the imposed workload that is not measured against an employee’s performance. An example of this is when an employee is given tasks outside their designated responsibilities, and it is not merited against their performance nor compensated or reflected in their paycheck.

C) Lack of Internal Career Progression: This can cause “quiet quitting” due to the lack of realistic performance management indicators, internal training and development initiatives, and succession planning design and execution. To ensure the longevity of talent in an organisation, there should be a clearly defined path for employee advancement.

D) Poor Leadership and Toxic Culture: These are at the core of a “Quiet quitters” checklist; the reasons are that some leadership styles and environments do not allow employees to flourish and demonstrate their expertise to the detriment of the organisation’s corporate objectives.

The root cause of this workforce pandemic lies in the misrepresentation of employer branding and engagement from the onset. An employer brand initiative and language is targeted to attract a specific talent audience so it’s a reflection of a PR Strategy, but if the internal employee engagement initiatives don’t reflect the same narrative, an employee’s life span within an organisation will wither.

We are now in a season where we want more out of work; employees are sacrificing salaries for well-being. People are now putting themselves ahead of career progression and promotion. They are less sacrificial and more intentional. So as employers, what are we doing?

To reduce the level of quiet, quitting and increase the level of productivity and engagement within the workforce, this pandemic is growing, and its following suit behind the great resignation and other workforce pandemics that are affecting our economy as a whole.

What is the solution? Organisations need to go back to the drawing board and authenticate their vision and mission and culture. This will require a lot of internal change management initiatives to drive this business transformation and organisations will find resistance from those who are not susceptible to change but to reduce the level of “Quiet quitters” is to constantly have your pulse on the policies and procedures that govern the workforce and implement people-centric strategies.