How To Manage The Quiet Quitting Phenomenon

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Home > Blog > How To Manage The Quiet Quitting Phenomenon

Quiet quitting is a recent phenomenon which gained traction on social media throughout 2022. While not officially resigning from their jobs, employees are reclaiming their time by ‘quiet quitting’ and choosing to spend less of their working week logged on, instead only working in line with what they feel is commensurate with their salary and the hours and job description defined in their employment agreements. Essentially, employees who are quiet quitting are simply refusing to go above and beyond at work.

The concept of quiet quitting can be a tricky one for employers to deal with. On one hand, the employees are not necessarily under-delivering, but by ‘phoning it in’ they may be letting down the high standard of work their teams and organisations are expected to produce, which can ultimately have a detrimental effect on the performance of the business as a whole.

With plenty of media coverage about quiet quitting over the past few months, most organisations are now alive to this behaviour and are deciding how to manage employees who engage in it. Here are some ways you can manage the quiet quitting phenomenon in your workplace.

Promote reasonable expectations

With flexible and working from home arrangements now considered the norm in many organisations, it may be an opportune time to review and refresh the attitude towards working long hours. Remind staff that they are not expected to spend countless hours in the office, but that the business has a standard of work which it expects to be output by all staff and produced within a reasonable timeframe and that this means occasionally putting in a few extra hours a day.

Staff covered by an award may be entitled to overtime pay, so you should be sure to check how this can affect a reasonable request to work more than their contracted hours. It would be beneficial to seek the advice of an employment lawyer if you take the approach of asking staff to work longer hours.

Ascertain why some employees are quiet quitting

If your workforce’s interest has waned, understanding why they are quiet quitting will help to inform your next steps. Many employees who are quiet quitting are seeking a work/life balance that requires them to log off earlier and be less contactable, which gives employers the impression they are actually working less. For these types of employees, a formal flexible working arrangement may boost their enthusiasm and will give the employer oversight of the employee’s whereabouts and hours.  

With the cost of living on the rise, some employees may be feeling disgruntled by their current salary not enabling them to continue to have the quality of life they previously enjoyed. This mindset can cause people to contribute less in the workplace, so they feel they are being paid adequately. If you have not recently offered pay rises or your most recent pay increases did not match CPI it could be beneficial to review any salary gaps and rectify them.  

Introduce incentives for high achievers

Not all staff will be quiet quitting and those who continue to excel at their work should be rewarded for it. Rather than shining a spotlight on those who are choosing to coast along, highlight the contributions of those making a huge effort. Incentives could be formalised through a bonus structure or could be ad hoc rewards of cash, gift cards or other incentives for high-performing individuals.

Those who have been contributing less or doing the bare minimum may also feel encouraged to increase their efforts to reap the benefits of these incentives.

How can poor-performing employees be performance managed?

There may be a cohort of employees who are not only quiet quitting, but also contributing less than expected in the workplace, and employers have the right to performance manage these people.

Before taking any drastic measures such as terminating the poor-performing employee’s employment, the employer should ensure they understand the legislation, enterprise agreements, employment contracts, organisational policies and procedures and any other measures put in place to protect employment.

If it has not been done already, the employer should clearly inform the employee of their expected work standards.

If these standards continue to remain unmet, a formal performance assessment should take place and the employee should be made aware of areas in which they must improve. If necessary, adjustments should be made to the position and responsibilities of the employee.

To determine if the employee is improving their standard of work it would be prudent to provide regular feedback and mentoring through a series of meetings until the desired result is achieved.

Taking disciplinary action

If, after being performance managed for a reasonable amount of time, an employee is continuing to underperform, it may be appropriate to take disciplinary action, including issuing written or verbal warnings or termination of employment. Employers should be mindful to take the appropriate steps before resorting to disciplinary action to ensure they are acting in line with relevant employment laws.

If your organisation requires assistance with performance management, speak to a HR specialist today.