The quiet riot of quitting is loud. Come on, leaders – do you hear the noise?

The Jennifer Nash Newsletter

More than two years after COVID-19 appeared around the globe, people are still leaving their positions in record numbers. One in five employees is expected to quit this year per PwC’s recent Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey. In 2022, second quarter productivity dropped at the steepest rate since 1948 per the US Labor Department

What’s causing this newest phase of the great reshuffle and spiraling downward engagement? Enter “quiet quitting’” – a trend of “being lazy” or “setting healthy boundaries” at work depending on your mindset. It consists of doing no more than absolutely necessary to bring in the next paycheck. Pro tip: This is nothing new – lots of employees have skated by doing the bare minimum since time immemorial.

But the problem isn’t the employees. 

Let’s discuss the real elephant in the room: Leaders who aren’t listening to their people.

Why aren’t leaders listening? 

Leaders are stuck in the tunes of the past. 

  • Perhaps the old 45 is spinning right round and you’re reminiscing about how great things were “back in the day” when everything seemed simpler and less discordant. 

Leaders want to do the tried-and-true two step. 

  • Maybe you’re wishing things would just go back to ‘normal’ – i.e. pre-COVID – so you can lead like you’ve always done using the steps you’re most comfortable with. 

Ergo, it won’t take any extra effort on your part to adapt and change to an uncomfortable new reality. Pro tip: This sounds a lot like quiet quitting, doesn’t it?! 

So what can leaders do to change the music? 

Change the song

  • As a leader, maybe you often take credit for your people’s work. Put your ego in check and stop hogging the limelight. Give credit where it’s due. Your people will appreciate the courtesy and might even be motivated to up their tempo.

Change the dance

  • If you feel like you must be in control all the time and have all the answers, Hall and Oates would say you’re “out of touch and out of time”. This is old school thinking and completely unrealistic in today’s workplace. Shift your mindset and adapt your behavior to perform a team dance, rather than a solo performance. Employees will notice you rolling up your sleeves and joining the team effort, which can go a long way toward improving engagement and potentially even reducing attrition rates.

Listen to Dolly

  • As a people leader, if you are all about “takin’ and not givin’” like Dolly Parton says, your employees will resent you, quietly quit, or outright leave. Think about the old adage – people leave managers, not companies. Give your employees your time and attention. Make it a priority to understand what they care about. Align their work with what’s important to them and what the business needs so that everyone benefits. Give clear direction and be consistent. 

It’s easy to blame employees for the quiet quitting trend. 

It’s hard to look in the mirror and acknowledge that you as a people leader create the very work culture prompting people to quietly quit. 

It’s impossible to unlearn what you have just learned. 

The time is now. You have a unique opportunity to create positive change and make the world and the world of work better for everyone. 

The question is: What are you going to do about it?

What do you think about the ‘quiet quitting’ trend? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

– Jennifer

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