As a leader or business owner there’s only one thing worse than an employee quitting and that’s when they quit but stay. Have you heard about this recent phenomenon called, “quiet quitting”?
According to the wisdom of Wikipedia: “Quiet quitting is a term and a trend that emerged this year from a viral TikTok video. The philosophy of quiet quitting is not abruptly leaving a job but doing exactly what the job requires, no more, no less. The main objective of this mindset is avoiding occupational burnout and paying more attention to one’s mental health and personal well-being.”
I’m torn on this philosophy — how about you? On one side of the economic coin, I’m an evangelist for hard work: I mean the title of this column is “Going the Extra Mile.” On the other side of the coin, I also believe in the principle of the Sabbath — we’re human beings and not human doings. We’re not designed to fire on all cylinders 24:7:365. Yes, we are called to work but we also must rest and play to be healthy and happy contributors to society.
I think what troubles me most about the growing crowd of quiet quitters is a lack of awareness of others and a certain amount of passive aggressiveness. Allow me to explain. No person works in isolation and so when one person chooses to do the bare minimum, another person is likely to suffer. Work is an interdependent activity — it’s a team sport.
Worst of all is if the customer suffers due to a poor product or sloppy service. In a highly competitive marketplace where consumers have plenty of choices, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere if the quiet quitters are noticeable in the final product or service due to their lack of best effort. When enough customers stop buying an organization’s product or service, the quiet quitters will actually be looking for a new job rather than half-heartedly doing the one they were previously paid to do.
The other aspect of this that troubles me is the degree of passive aggressiveness — not speaking up but rather not showing up so much. How can leaders reallocate resources if they don’t know what’s happening at the coal face? If an employee is feeling overwhelmed with tasks, they should have the courage and consideration to speak up, rather than silently suffer and choose to do the bare minimum.
I remember when I was a regional finance director for Hilton International serving 48 hotels. After about 12 months on the job, I was overwhelmed with responsibilities and so I decided to raise my concern with my boss. We sat down together for about an hour and he listened to my list. Together, we prioritized. Together, we struck things off the list. Together, we agreed on items that I could delegate to others and even some that he offered to take from me and do himself.
My willingness to share my concerns wasn’t weakness in his eyes as it actually strengthened our relationship and enabled me to focus on our highest priorities. Rather than quitting, or worse still quitting and staying — we cleaned out the cupboard and he helped me clarify what was truly important and work on work that mattered. I’ll always remember his hand of help.
Being a Quiet Quitter can’t really be good for your health, either. Whereas I felt refreshed, refocused and rejuvenated after sitting with my boss and pruning my to-do list, I am sure quietly quitting must add stress to an already overwhelming situation. Innately, I believe most reasonable people want to put in a good day’s work and when we spend our days trying to spend as little as possible, this can’t be good for anyone’s economy.
This country was not built by people doing the bare minimum. Organizations cannot thrive when people do the bare minimum and I’d even warn of the ramifications of taking this mindset into our personal relationships — marriages and families do not thrive when one party does the bare minimum. Don’t quit but rather speak up and keep showing up. We need you.
Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaftd.com). For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].