Quiet Quitting – What is it and how does it affect you?

Quiet Quitting – the latest TikTok buzzword and a manager’s nightmare. Let’s take a look at what it means, how to identify it in your workplace and if it’s as big a problem as they say.

Quiet Quitting is when an employee only completes the tasks laid out in their job description – they don’t take on extra workload, they leave at five and don’t go ‘above and beyond’. This method is usually taken on by employees who are unhappy and are looking to leave their place of work, so see little reason to give more.

A similar term is ‘acting your wage’ – An employee acting their wage will do the same as a quiet quitter, but rather than looking to resign, they’re looking to establish boundaries between themselves and their employer.

In a culture where staying late, taking on extra tasks and working through sickness and annual leave is expected of good, enthusiastic workers, trends like quiet quitting and acting your wage force us to ask ourselves – is this healthy?

From 2018 to 2021, HSE found that the UK has seen a 38% increase of workers suffering from work-related stress, depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, CIPD reports that poor work-life balance is a huge problem for employees, with three in five people surveyed saying they work longer hours than they want and almost a quarter saying they feel exhausted in their jobs. In an age where we encourage conversations about mental health – it shouldn’t be surprising that, with these statistics, British working culture is under the spotlight.

Quiet quitters may be seen as lazy, not pulling their weight or poor team players – but it’s worth keeping in mind that they are, in fact, working. They’re working within the expected parameters that were set upon their employment – and they aren’t in the wrong for doing so.

However, when you only have one quiet quitter on your team, it can cause friction between employees. It’s easy for an employee to grow resentful of a coworker who clocks off at five every day, when they’re picking up extra work for another hour or two. Just because acting your wage isn’t ‘wrong’, doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem for a manager. Let’s look at the issues this could cause and how you can tackle them.

Why does an employee Act their Wage or Quiet Quit?

The typical quiet quitter is ready to leave employment, and wants to do so calmly and quietly. They turn down extra work and retain energy to focus on job hunting and building their skills. They’re no longer passionate or enthusiastic about their work, nor do they fear the wrath of their boss or coworkers for doing less.

The ‘acting their wage’ crowd are looking to keep their job, but are determined to build boundaries. They may be burnt out and trying to claw back control over their working day. Their priorities may have changed – maybe their family has grown, they’re dealing with an illness or simply want to devote more time and energy to their personal life. Maybe there just aren’t any benefits to going above and beyond – or they’re perfectly happy in their role and don’t desire a promotion or more responsibility. As you can see, there are many varied reasons to act your wage, and it can be hard to narrow down the cause.

Whatever the reason, if you have a quiet quitter on your team, it might be time to examine your work culture. What went wrong?

Lack of communication

Demonstrated by the quiet in quiet quitting. Why can’t your employee tell you that you’ve overburdened them? Or that they desire opportunities to develop and move up (why would they go above and beyond if there aren’t promotions available?). The root of the problem here is that your quietly quitting employee doesn’t feel they can be honest with you and set boundaries directly.

Your expectations are too high

Is it fair to expect employees to work late every night or take on more work than is outlined in their job description? If the thought of changing the culture to be less intense makes you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Could it be that the company would struggle if employees only did their assigned work? If so, you may be understaffed. Is it because you’re worried they’ll become lazy, or won’t stay late when things get desperate? Maybe it’s time to have honest conversations with your team about your expectations.

Your team has a passive-aggression problem

As a manager, you may not have an issue with staff going home on time or turning down extra work. Yet you’ve noticed that staff seem overworked and stay late most nights. What’s going on?
You may have inherited a passive-aggressive culture that’s perpetuated by team members, rather than by yourself. We’ve all met them – the coworker who tuts when you start packing up at five or gives you the cold shoulder when you take a sick day. This toxic behaviour can permeate through a team quickly – but as a manager, you have the power to nip it in the bud.

Here at ART Health Solutions, we are strong advocates of a healthy work-life balance. After all, the science tells us that happy, healthy employees perform well – in and out of work.

If you’re looking to support your team in their wellbeing and performance, have a chat with us. We’d love to tell you more about our workplace wellbeing solutions.

ART Health Solutions – Creating a world with happier, healthier and higher performing people.

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