Quiet Quitting: A Symptom We Should Address, Not Demonise

In recent months, the term “quiet quitting” has entered the cultural lexicon, striking fear into the hearts of managers and leaders everywhere. On the surface, the concept seems straightforward: employees doing only the bare minimum required of them, disengaging from going “above and beyond.” But demonising quiet quitting misses the point. Instead of lamenting a lack of effort, we should view quiet quitting as a symptom of more significant organisational issues that leaders can address.

The reality is humans crave purpose and meaning in their work. Contributing to something larger than ourselves is a fundamental human need. But for many reasons, many employees feel disconnected from a sense of purpose in their roles. They show up, do the minimum required, and count down the minutes until quitting time. Can we blame them?

Rather than criticising quiet quitting, leaders should see it as an opportunity to empower people and reconnect them to purpose. Here are three ways to do this:

First, focus on clarity of vision and goals. Employees want to understand how their role ladders up to big-picture organisational objectives. They want to feel that the work they do matters. As leaders, we must communicate a compelling vision and clarify how each person’s contributions help move the needle. When people see their impact, it fuels engagement (1).

Second, provide development and growth opportunities. Humans have an innate desire to learn, grow and progress. When people feel stagnant in their roles, going above and beyond loses appeal. Creating avenues for people to build skills, take on new challenges and expand responsibilities shows them they have a future with your company. This boosts motivation dramatically (2,3).

Finally, recognise and appreciate contributions. Quiet quitting often stems from feeling overlooked and undervalued (4). We all want to feel that our efforts are seen and make a difference. Offering sincere acknowledgement, praise and rewards for achievements can work wonders. And it doesn’t need to be monetary – a simple “thank you” or a handwritten note can go a long way (5).

When people feel inspired by purpose, empowered to grow, and appreciated for their efforts, quiet quitting naturally fades. They become energised to bring their best selves to work and contribute wholeheartedly to the mission (6).

Therefore, investing in your leadership and management training is a strategic business decision, reducing costly turnover and leading to a more engaged and productive workforce, which can ultimately contribute to the success and growth of the business.

IMNZ’s range of training options will help you build your adaptive leadership and management capabilities to thrive in a constantly changing environment. Rather than lamenting quiet quitting, let’s see it as the impetus to build thriving, engaged cultures where everyone can do their life’s best work. Our people and organisations deserve nothing less.


This article was written by Andy Cooper, Head of Strategic Development at Skills Group.



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