Today’s leaders are faced with an ever-changing human capital landscape when it comes to employee retention. Most managers have survived the Great Resignation and ongoing disruptions, due to employees’ disengagement, active searching, and even regret for having leaped to new jobs before looking. Meanwhile, executives still are trying to create a high-performance business model that complements hybrid working arrangements and employees who aren’t’ interested in going back to the office full time.
The latest trend among younger employees that is affecting workplace productivity has been deemed “quiet quitting,” meaning some employees are still performing their duties but no longer going above and beyond or supporting the hustle mentality that places work above quality of life. While the act of quiet quitting is not new behavior, the novel term suggests that it’s resurfacing and worth putting on your radar.
Many leaders embrace healthy shifts toward a work-life balance, yet the quiet quitting mindset presents a slippery slope because “above and beyond” is a gray area that can be interpreted differently. At its best, employees are performing well and up to standards; at its worst, the bare minimum affects outcomes, morale, and a breach of perceived fairness among teams.
Rather than attempt the tricky and time-intensive business of defining “above and beyond” for each of your positions, you might have a better chance of optimizing your team’s performance by appealing to an employee’s connection to the company and your other people. Consider the fitting initialism “TLC” to mitigate the spread of a quiet-quitting mentality in your workplace and genuinely engage your teams:
Can you draw a direct line between the employee and purpose? Korn Ferry recently looked at the benefits of drawing a clear line of sight between an employee’s daily work and the organization’s purpose. When employees have a clear vision of how their personal contribution serves the collective mission of the company, they feel more included and perceive a stronger connection to shared meaning. When an employee’s outcomes are tethered to organizational mission, performance and personal fulfillment improve, thus removing the “bare minimum” as an inclination.
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Superficial connections are the result of small-talk traps that keep us in “level-one conversations,” according to author Vanessa Van Edwards. Level-one conversations leave employees feeling shallow and loosely connected with their bosses and colleagues. Executives who want genuine connections with their teams must level up their working relationships by engaging in meaningful conversations that convey authenticity. Van Edwards suggests open-ended questions that don’t call for yes or no answers but, instead, prompt more engaging responses that cultivate conversation.
Close to 47 million employees gave notice in 2021. A significant portion of those employees did not have a new job lined up, signaling that employees experienced a dramatic shift toward disconnection. As many as one in three reported feeling hopeless, aimless, and dispirited, according to a survey of 15 million employees. Try a direct approach and show you care by asking employees what motivates them. If they don’t know, ask what about their job they enjoy doing. Employees are moved by having a say. Try to have these conversations in person, and don’t wait until an annual or quarterly review. Show you care by taking the time to ask now. Most importantly, act on their input by exploring ways they can do more of what they enjoy.
Disengagement, active searching, resignations, and regret are all symptoms of a greater problem. When you connect with your employees on a deeper level, you have a sense of what motivates them and how their work truly contributes to the company’s greater purpose. Don’t wait until you see the quiet-quitting pattern before you spring into action; choose one or more of these TLC strategies now so your employees appreciate working in a culture where your commitment to connection is clear.