Quiet quitting, or the act of slowly tuning out of your role and responsibilities at work, seems to be the new epidemic hitting the employment market.
As the covid-influenced Great Resignation seemed to slow mid-last year, many of our senior recruiters started reporting a shift in mindset and general job satisfaction of people they were speaking with.
According to NonStop Executive Partner Benjamin Thomson, an estimated 20% of the workforce was at some stage of quiet quitting by the end of 2022, whether through near burnout, a lack of job satisfaction stemming from employers tightening their belts ahead of an expected recession, or a desire yet lack of confidence to change jobs.
However, even if the term was recently re-popularised on TikTok, this isn’t necessarily a new trend he argues. Neither was the Great Resignation. Both are just aspects of patterns that have existed in the employment market for probably as long as there has been one, which means there are lessons of the past we can all learn from and opportunities for both employer and employee to gain a #newyearnewview.
Covid’s lasting impact on employment
It’s no secret the covid pandemic has shifted the way we perceive work-life balance, generally tilting us towards greater work-life balance and flexible working. But these working patterns can also make it harder for employees to obtain the things we all need to feel truly a part of our teams – clarity of purpose, connection with colleagues, that our contributions are recognised, being challenged, and more.
As Benjamin, who headhunts in the chemical regulatory industry says, this can make it even harder for employers to spot quiet quitting, yet more likely for employees to feel it, even if they don’t yet know it.
However, there are some warning signs to look out for. These include disengagement, increasingly poor time management, missed deadlines, not showing up for meetings, and consistently performing duties to the minimum standard.
“It’s important to make the distinction between quiet quitting and burnout or other issues, such as medical, that can cause an employee to present the same signs though”, he says, “and this can only be done through genuinely knowing your employees and regular check-ins such as quarterly performance reviews”.
Combating quiet quitting: learning from the past
According to NonStop Associate Director Amélie Michelin, “as a manager, it’s crucial you create a culture where you can have open and frank conversations with team members, but in an environment where they know it’s a two-way street. You have to be honest with them, but they need to feel they can be honest with you too”.
Ensuring employees at all levels feel they are seen, heard, and appreciated is a good way to keep people engaged, but arguably a somewhat new concept in the world of work, she adds.
Accepting quiet quitting as a business norm is certainly something to avoid though. In accepting it, you’re telling employees it’s ok to continue at their current level of output, which can have larger ramifications for the general satisfaction of the wider team, and of course your business’s output.
“Most mature businesses will have been through a period of quiet quitting before, whether they are aware of it or not, and this is why it’s also important that we take time to measure the mood of the business and listen to employees. Ultimately this allows us to look out for things such as demotivation that could in fact be an underlying issue of quiet quitting.”
Given the uncertainty of the job market right now, and fears of a coming recession, it’s natural there might be some people, or quiet quitters, sheltering in a job they’re not particularly happy with, which presents an opportunity for employers.
Opportunities for employers
January and February are typically the busiest months of the year for recruitment but as an employer, that shouldn’t put you off hiring right now because we’re also seeing high levels of job seekers at the same time, some spurred on by the glut of opportunity being advertised, others by new year resolutions to find more meaningful employment or take their next career step.
According to Benjamin, this creates a great opportunity for employers to take advantage of all the new talent on the market and set up the right team mix to help you achieve your business goals this year.
But at the same time, we are seeing hesitation amongst some candidates to move jobs right now, given fears of whether a recession is just around the corner.
“Unfortunately the mindset of a quiet quitter means they might be more likely to hesitate to take the leap to a new job too, but that’s where the other opportunity lies for an employer,” he says.
As mentioned above, there are things we all need to feel valued at work, which ultimately leads to engagement. This includes clarity of purpose, connection with colleagues, that our contributions are recognised, being challenged, and more.
“So if you’re worried about a group of quiet quitters, now would be a great time for any business leader to test the mood of their workforce and implement steps to make sure people’s intrinsic motivations are being met. It could prevent a quiet quitting epidemic within your own company,” says Amelie.
Are you a quiet quitter? Why now is a great time to change jobs
As mentioned above, this time of year is traditionally busy for recruiters as companies with fresh hiring budgets release new roles, warm up from end-of-year hiring freezes, and strive to set their teams up for 2023 success.
This results in a surge of jobs advertised (and also many not advertised) and from what our recruiters are reporting, there are still many companies worried about losing talent to their competitors so offering more compensation or better benefits to attract the right candidates.
According to our German Business Unit Manager Sebastian Bell, it’s natural there might be many people afraid of what’s around the corner, especially when it comes to changing jobs.
“But as I mentioned back in our podcast last year, the best time to invest is when the market is down. Moving jobs is no different. For those willing to go outside of their comfort zones, there are opportunities that might mean a career leap, rather than just a step.”
If you’re a quiet quitter, now is your chance.