A Quick Take on Quiet Quitting | SOS Podcast

A Quick Take on Quiet Quitting | SOS Podcast

The term "quiet quitting" has gone viral. In the third quarter of 2022, its global online search frequency increased by more than 9,000%! In this episode, we describe what it means, discuss its impact on employers, and share some ideas for ways supervisors can have an impact on it.




Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Joe White, and I'm the host of Supervisor Skills: Secrets of Success. The SOS podcast series was produced to create ongoing development opportunities for mid and front-line supervision. With each episode, we take on topics of interest and share insights and perspectives for the benefit of our listeners. In today's SOS short episode, we're discussing quiet quitting, a topic of growing interest for business executives. We're going to frame it up for discussion from the perspective of front-line supervisors. If you're wanting to have an immediate impact on a pressing topic, this is your opportunity. That said, let's jump right into our discussion.

"Going through the motions", "retired in place", "putting forth minimal effort", "checking the box", and "doing nothing more than what's required to collect a paycheck". In a nutshell, that's what quiet quitting is. While the term itself may be new, the collective list of behaviors it's used to describe are not. The consequences of it are detrimental to any organization, are directly reflected in operational performance, and ultimately impact the bottom line.

In comparison, employee engagement is a related term used to describe how likely employees are to go above and beyond. Highly engaged employees consistently outperform less engaged coworkers and routinely go beyond their job description at the performance of their job. In contrast, disengaged workers have higher absenteeism and more injuries, and produce more defective products. Quiet quitting at its core is really nothing more than a rebranding of employee disengagement. In terms of workforce research topics, employee engagement ranks at or near the top, and the reason for it is pretty clear.

Only 15% of employees are currently engaged. Put another way, 85% are simply going through the motions. At this very time, 73% of employees would consider leaving their job for the right opportunity to go elsewhere. As for the basis of this trend, we don't have to look very far. While pay is important, it's not the number one reason employees leave. Employees leave primarily to escape their direct supervisor. Among those that voluntarily leave, roughly 75% cite not feeling valued or appreciated as their primary motive. To affect employee engagement or quiet quitting, we must impact the employee's experience. No one's better positioned to do so than front-line supervision. Here are several thoughts on where to start and what to do.


1. Get to know your employees.

More so than at any point in time in the past, employees today want to work for supervisors they know and trust. Building your calendar time for interacting with employees. Engage with workers for the purpose of building rapport and learning more about them on an individual basis. Be responsive to requests and follow up on anything that may come up in a timely manner.


2. Show value, appreciation, and respect.

We have a monumental opportunity to reshape the employee's experience by simply recognizing and thanking workers for a job well done. We should also pause and reflect on the traits and characteristics we value most in employees and express appreciation to those that demonstrate them. Finally, we must treat employees with respect and do everything possible to foster a respectful working environment for all. Any improvement in this area will have an immediate and profound impact for the better.

3. Seek input.

Chances are employees know where improvement opportunities exist. They witness firsthand operational inefficiencies and are often the recipient of consequences resulting from it. When and where possible, ask for their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. Doing so helps build trust and demonstrates a high level of mutual respect.

4. Provide an opportunity for involvement.

This is about getting employees off the sidelines and into the game. It's about transitioning employees from passive to active involvement in areas where interests and skills align. While some will prefer operating only within the scope of their assigned duties, others will jump at the opportunity to demonstrate capabilities and leadership potential. Don't let the lower aspirations of some limit the higher ambitions of others.

5. Recognize opportunities for growth and development.

The unfortunate reality is that the skills gap is widening. Employees entering the workforce today have only a small percentage of skills required for the jobs they're being hired to fulfill. In all likelihood, the situation will get worse, not better, over the next decade. The fallout of this scenario is beyond the capabilities of most existing training models. To narrow the gap, supervisors must recognize where voids exist and help develop employees on the job using operational experiences as lessons to work through and to learn from. Communication is essential and coaching is key to effectively onboard and integrate the next generation of workers.

Quiet quitting is a term broadly used to describe behaviors typically associated with disengaged employees. The consequences of it are costly to organizations and have an adverse impact on operational performance in a number of areas. The factors responsible for disengagement are many and likely to increase in the near term. Supervisors are in the best possible position to improve the employee's experience and subsequently counter the growing concerns associated with quiet quitting. It's my sincere hope you'll see the importance of this topic. Even more so, I hope you'll see the value in doing something about it.

Thank you for joining us. I hope this information will help you grow and improve as a supervisor. We look forward to sharing additional podcasts with you in the months ahead, and welcome any suggestions you might have for topics you'd like to see us cover. We're always looking for guests and enjoy sharing insights and success stories from the field. If that's something you'd like to be a part of, just let us know.

The SOS podcast series is brought to you by AEU LEAD, a consultancy dedicated to the needs of mid and front-line managers. We value and appreciate any feedback, and would encourage you to review and rate your experience with this show wherever you access your podcasts. That's it for now. Stay safe and thanks for listening.


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About the Author

As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.

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