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Employers have long been receiving freebies from their staff. ADP research shows that employees work an average of nine hours of unpaid overtime per week, which equates to a loss of $17,726 in annual income. Is there a miracle Gallup research finds? 64% of employees are either disengaged, or worse, actively disengaged from their work?
No, and many burnout employees refuse to take it anymore, resulting in ‘quiet quitting’. This phenomenon spread like wildfire in the summer of 2022 thanks to a viral TikTok video. In the clip, New York musician Zeid Leppelin describes how to break the busy mentality and stop trying your best at work. Thousands have responded by sharing their own quiet quit stories – saying “no” to unpaid overtime and refusing to answer work messages outside the clock.
Quitting quietly has attracted a lot of attention, with some critics missing the point entirely — accusing their employees of being lazy and “mentally controlling” their jobs. But what if leaders recognize that they have the power to improve the situation for their employees? Here are five ways to respond to silent quitters by better supporting them:
Related: 8 Ways To Stop Your Employees From Silently Stopping With You
1. Implement 360 feedback cycles
If we’re considering quieting a cry for help, leaders should proactively listen to their workforce by introducing 360 feedback cycles. Traditional performance reviews provide downward feedback from a manager to a subordinate. Managers speak and employees listen. The problem with this one-way street is that leaders have no idea how their employees interact with it or how they feel about the organization.
We can use 360-degree reviews to ask for them! This feedback style collects thoughts and opinions from colleagues, managers, and direct reports so that lower-level employees provide valuable home truths (anonymously, if desired) about company culture, leadership styles, communication strategies, and anything else that impacts engagement or productivity.
If 60% of your employees say they are overworked and receive DMs from their manager on the weekend, it’s clear that you need to support your employees by taking action!
2. Prioritize Career Mapping
Employees lose enthusiasm when they can’t visualize their future at your company. Make it easy for your employees to be excited to come to work by highlighting a range of career growth and development opportunities.
Career mapping involves building paths in your org chart to show how each individual contributor could earn a promotion or move to another department later on. Remember: not everyone wants to be a manager. But these employees still need access to enriching career paths that contribute to the success of your company.
Be transparent by defining competencies and training requirements for each role, so employees know exactly how to achieve their career goals.
Related: Is Your Employee Development Broken? Here’s how to fix it.
3. Offer flexibility
Flexibility is not a buzzword; it’s an expectation. The pandemic has allowed workers to evaluate their priorities and enjoy life outside of work. For some workers, this meant ditching the commute, having the option of attending their child’s school concert in the middle of the day, or working from home permanently.
If you don’t offer flexible work options, don’t be surprised if you lack the support of your staff. While it is challenging to let go of old models, the workplace is evolving and companies must move with the times. And flexible working is also an asset for employers, according to research by Gartner 43% of employees feel more productive when they can choose their hours and not have to commute.
Retain your best talent by joining the program and offering more flexible working arrangements. That could be offering remote positions, compressed hours, frontloaded work weeks, or sabbaticals.
4. Model healthy work-life boundaries
If your corporate culture is full of toxic habits, but you don’t know how to break them, look at the top of the tree. Managers are responsible for setting expectations for the team – those who send emails or Slack messages at midnight give the wrong impression. Many “silent quitters” who have chosen to remove work apps from their phones are simply trying to break the cycle of burnout that starts at the top.
Support your team by creating a clear communication policy that sets out when and how all employees should contact each other during working hours and what the expectations are for taking a communication break every day and on weekends.
There is also room for healthier work-life boundaries during the working day. If your employees’ schedules consist of Zoom call after Zoom call, insist that you build in comfort breaks between meetings. You can also implement non-meeting days or switch to asynchronous tools to give employees a break from being constantly “on”.
Related: 5 Ways to Ensure Employee Happiness in Your Company
5. View Employee Benefits
Employee benefits are the ultimate way to support your workforce. Start by researching your employees to understand what they want and need from their benefits package – this would work well in a 360 feedback questionnaire. The most popular benefits include health insurance, retirement savings plans, paid time off, and help with student loan repayments. But mental health, childcare, pet insurance, and fertility benefits are also great ways to recognize that your team members have a life outside of work.
Business closures are gaining speed as a holiday benefit for employees. The idea is simple: the office closes and every employee takes the same week of vacation, so employees don’t feel stressed about being out of the office. There is no pressure to check in on work as nothing happens. It’s an important way to encourage employees to take their full vacation entitlements and enjoy much-needed rest and relaxation.
Don’t wait for silent quitters to actually quit
Quitting quietly is a relatively new trend and we have yet to see how it will develop. But along with the Great Reshuffle, it’s not such a big leap to predict that many quiet quitters will eventually jump to be with a more supportive employer.
As soon as your employees decide to positively change their individual work situation, they already feel discouraged. Get ahead of the curve by taking action now to erase signs of workplace toxicity so your company is filled with motivated and rejuvenated employees.