Are People On Your Team “Quiet Quitting?”

POINT OF THE POST...

Hey! If you've not checked out all the new free resources on the site, start here: https://gavinadams.com/leadership-coaching/ In this new post, let's talk about QUIET QUITTING. Have you heard of this? If not, you need to because people on your team are doing it now, and you may be, too.

Have you heard of “Quiet Quitting?”

Perhaps you’re doing it right now and don’t even know it.

It’s a new term given to a new, unhealthy workplace reality. Rather than leaving jobs, people en mass are remaining in their position, but not giving much (if any) effort.

Recent research by Gallup suggests “‘Quiet quitters’ make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce — probably more.”

Let me give you one more data point from Gallup:

“U.S. employee engagement took another step backward during the second quarter of 2022, with the proportion of engaged workers remaining at 32% but the proportion of actively disengaged increasing to 18%. The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade.”

There was a time when “full-time” meant “doing what it took to get the job done.” It appears this way of working is shrinking fast. Employees are increasingly less likely to put in the extra hours and effort they once did. They are “quiet quitting.”

We could spend time diagnosing why this is happening. We could blame today’s workers. Of course, the trauma of the pandemic is partially to blame. Or perhaps mostly to blame. You can read articles from psychologists to better understand how we got here. I’m more concerned with what to do in response.

Personally, I’ve felt like “quiet quitting” at times during the last couple of years. But when I think more deeply about this phenomenon, I can remember multiple times in my leadership journey when I felt like quiet quitting. We gave that emotion a different label. 

Today, though, quiet quitting seems more like a common malady than a random occurrence. 

What we’re seeing now is the second wave of job-related trauma. That’s what quiet quitting is — a response to trauma. We are entirely out of emotional reserves. Most of us were running low on emotional resources in February 2020! The pandemic destroyed any emotional margin we had left. And then proceeded to stomp any sliver we had left into the ground for two plus years. 

Whether you changed jobs as part of the great resignation and feel exhausted or were too exhausted to make a change, odds are you’re feeling some amount of quiet quitting. You’re still showing up. You’re cashing the paycheck. But you’re not who you used to be. You can feel it. I bet others feel it, too. You’re partially disengaged and somewhat disinterested. You feel apathetic. Your favorite word these days is “whatever.” 

You don’t need me to tell you this version of work isn’t sustainable. You don’t want to spend the next decade of your work life just getting by. And you don’t want those around you doing so, either. If you’re a leader, you want your team to be dynamic, not sickly. You want the people on your team to experience a job worth experiencing.

How?

That’s often the question, right? How can we battle quiet quitting in our life and the lives around us?

I’m not a counselor, although I’ve spent much time sitting with one. I have led teams and organizations for a long time, though. I haven’t cornered the market on solutions, but I do have some ideas to battle quiet quitting:

1. Reconnect roles and responsibilities to the mission and purpose.

People would rather experience purpose than a paycheck. If given a choice, we’d all rather not just clock in and out. We want to do something that matters. We want our labor to matter. Regardless of what you do, if you can’t identify how or why it matters for others, you’ll be tempted to quietly quit.

Spend a few minutes this week finding purpose beyond your paycheck. If you think there isn’t any purpose, you’re not looking hard enough. There is always a purpose. Perhaps what you do helps others. Or maybe it helps your family. It may support your desire to travel. I don’t know. What I do know is that your job has a purpose. If you rediscover it, you may find a path out from your quiet quitting.

2. Get your boots back on the ground.

When I’ve felt this in my leadership tenure, it was often because my job took me too far away from the customer or congregation. As a leader of an organization, it’s all too easy to only hear about customers without ever really seeing them.

Getting back to the roots of your business or church is always helpful. As a lead pastor, I led a small group of other adults for this exact reason. I didn’t want to become too removed from direct life change. Your application will look different, but the concept fits. Find a way back to the basics of the business. Try to spend a little time with your boots back on the ground each week.

3. Share more stories.

Stories motivate. Our brains are conditioned for stories. You’ll find more purpose and reasons to reengage when you hear the positive stories associated with your work.

If you lead a team or organization, begin every meeting by sharing stories. Here’s the question to ask: “What have you seen or experienced that makes you feel like we are accomplishing our mission?”

4. Have fun…again.

The pandemic was a fun sucker in nearly every way. I mean, that first week or two wasn’t all that bad, hanging out at home with the family and taking walks around the neighborhood. But the fun of “new” quickly gave way to the pain of loss.

We all need to have fun again. At work, at home, and everywhere in between. If you feel like a quiet quitter, find a way to have fun again. Start (restart) a hobby. Redecorate your office. Change your setting. Plant some flowers in your yard. Go shopping. Watch Seinfeld (if you’ve never done this, stop everything and do it now! The first few episodes aren’t great, but as the team gets their footing and chemistry together, it’s simply amazing.). 

This job might have been your dream at some point! Don’t forget that.

5. Control what you can control.

I love the serenity prayer: God, give me the serenity to accept things which cannot be changed; Give me the courage to change things which must be changed; And the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.

Ultimately, you are the CEO of your quiet quitting experience. If you want to make a change, you can. You’re in charge of yourself. There is tremendous power in this recognition. You can change anything that needs to be changed, improve anything that’s not working, and solve the problems in front of you.

Change what you can change. Accept what you can’t.

I wrote another article to help people decide if they should go. That could be the change you need. 

Conclusion

Working while emotionally quitting is excruciating. This version of work won’t resolve any of the problems. At best, it’s a coping mechanism. If you find yourself in this position, I strongly encourage you to find your way back to purpose.

If your team is “quiet quitting” on you, don’t blame them. Instead, look in the mirror at your leadership.

How Can I Help?

I created Transformation Solutions to help ministry and marketplace leaders. I spend much of my time with leaders and organizations working to discover better strategies, but I find many leaders need some encouragement and personal leadership direction. I’d love to talk with you about your team and organization to see if working together works for us both.

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