There's a new term circling the internet: quiet quitting.
If you haven't heard of quiet quitting before, it's a notion that's really taken off on the platform TikTok and is spreading across LinkedIn. Basically, quiet quitting is when an employee who is experiencing burnout doesn't actually quit their job, but instead rejects the idea that they need to go above and beyond their job duties.
Quiet quitting may look like:
Refusing to answer messages and calls outside of working hours
Declining to take on extra projects
Or, if they do take on new projects, they might be more adamant about getting a pay raise or other compensation for going above their regular job duties
Not feeling guilty about taking a sick day or PTO
Declining to work through lunch
If you're a boss or manager, I bet this isn't a trend you want catching on in your own employees. So, what should you do?
First of all, answer the question "what is the root cause of quiet quitting?" I'd argue that most people who are quiet quitting aren't doing so out of laziness or complacency. Many employees who share their stories about quiet quitting come back to compensation. Perhaps they feel like they're being assigned tasks that are above their pay grade, or there's too high an expectation to work extra hours with no promise of overtime pay, or they see no guarantee that going above and beyond will single them out for a promotion. So, one way to prevent quiet quitting on your team is to examine the rewards you give the employees who DO go above and beyond. Is there a clear line from doing extra work to getting rewarded for it? Are you asking more of your employees with a "promise" of a promotion?
Burnout can also lead to quiet quitting. An employee who's been working at maximum capacity for too long will eventually feel fatigued, and withdraw from work. If you see a formerly-high performer start to pull back, perhaps it's time to have a conversation about the size of their workload and the urgency of their deadlines. Better yet, be preemptive with your team, and continually have open and honest conversations about workloads and deadlines. If you do this, employees will feel more empowered to come to you in the event of burnout, or hopefully before it ever reaches that point.
So to recap:
Ask yourself if you're adequately rewarding and/or compensating employees who regularly work beyond the expectations of their job description.
Ensure that those rewards systems are communicated out to the employees, so they know that their extra work is valued, and can further their career if applicable.
Keep your office door open to conversations about burnout, and be willing to discuss options with your employees who feel overwhelmed.
All that said, I'm not advocating that quiet quitting is the best way to deal with burnout; it's not. In some cases, the employee is simmering in resentment and that can affect how a whole team operates, and that's not healthy for the employee or the team. If quiet quitting is being used to "get back at" the company, and not being used to set healthy boundaries at work, then the employee and the company would probably be better off if they actually just... quit.