These two words have been on the lips of executives, managers, and even news anchors in recent times: quiet quitting. But what is this new problem companies are facing, and what can bosses do about it? According to the two co-chairs of the Human Resources Council at the Business Council of Westchester — Allison Madison, president and CEO of Madison Approach Staffing, and Grant Schneider, founder and president of Performance Development Strategies — organizations can do quite a bit to both recognize quiet quitting and mitigate it.
First, it’s important to know what quiet quitting is. “I would say quiet quitting really is the manifestation of a lack of engagement,” explains Madison. “It means people are essentially just doing the bare minimum of what is required for the job and not in any way going above and beyond. To me, that is really just a symptom of folks not having a lot of enthusiasm for what they are doing.”
“You can call it whatever you want, but it’s about having conversations with your people to find out what they think about working for you.” — Allison Madison
Schneider agrees that the signs of quiet quitting are often quite clear, and they aren’t always solely the fault of the employee. “It’s very easy to notice when you suddenly don’t hear from people who had been very engaged, who maybe made calls or came to you often with ideas,” he says. “They don’t feel that the job is fulfilling, or perhaps the main thing is that they don’t feel management understands the lifestyle changes that are required for them to go on. If you want to know what your employees are feeling, ask them.”
For both Madison and Schneider, this communication between employee and employer is paramount to stop quiet quitting before it even begins. “Get your insights. Talk to your employees and find out what they want, because today’s workforce will only stay with a company as long as it fits their vision, their values,” says Schneider. “Take notice. Don’t wait.”
Madison echoes the sentiment. “There’s workforce pulse surveys and stay interviews, but at the end of the day, it’s about having conversations.”
So, what to do? “What I suggest companies do is conduct a survey on employee engagement, then hold group follow-up meetings, depending on the size of your organization,” advises Schneider.
Madison says a company’s positioning and messaging are vital to attracting workers who won’t engage in quiet quitting. “When a business is very clear about its driving values and purpose, they’ll draw people who are in alignment with those things. When people believe in the cause and that they have a purpose and are contributing, they’re going to stay because they value what they’re doing and value that commitment.”
But after all potential fixes have been tried, company leaders shouldn’t be afraid to move on. “If employers have shifted in their values and employees have shifted in theirs, it’s okay to have turnover and find folks who are engaged and in alignment with a company’s values, culture, mission, and purpose,” says Madison. “It takes time, but you have to make a point of having those conversations. It pays to be informed rather than blindsided.”