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‘Quiet Quitting’; The Newest Trend in Organisational Psychology, and How to Prevent It

If you pay attention to new recruitment insights, you likely will have heard the phrase, ‘quiet quitting’.  But what does it actually mean?

The newest buzzword in organizational research, quiet quitting involves intentional ‘coasting’ at work. Rather than working to the best of their ability, quiet quitters work to the bare minimum of their job requirements and not a bit more. These employees adopt a ‘one foot out of the door’ mindset, and are much more likely to hand in their notice unexpectedly. This is not due to a lack of skill or experience, but by design; a sense of disillusionment and dissatisfaction at work makes employees apathetic, and unwilling to go the extra mile to see results.  

Examples of quiet quitting might include not putting themselves forward for extra projects,  shying away from broader responsibilities and new challenges. Generally, completing the bare minimum amount of work. 

So, why do people do this? Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. There has always been some people happy to coast by at work by doing the bare minimum. While some blame rising ‘laziness’ in younger generations, the research says fault lies not with employees, but with management strategy. Studies have also found that the common theme underpinning quiet quitting behaviours is feeling disengaged, detached, and unsatisfied with work¹. For example, research conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that workplaces with poorly rated managers were up to four times more likely to have quiet quitters ; and the inverse is true of positively-rated managers².  Engaged people naturally want to work harder and are more likely to go the extra mile to achieve results.

Here are our tips for managers on how to adopt a person-centred working approach that keeps your team invested and at their most productive. 

Consider Friction Points

First, consider the reasons why someone might disengage from their role in your team. Common reasons for quiet quitting might include a lack of advancement opportunities, feeling ignored or disrespected, a lack of interesting and varied work, or feeling unhappy with their benefits package (for example, remuneration or remote flexibility). There are steps you can take as a leader to address some of these friction points.

Check In Regularly

Your aim as a leader should be to create a culture of trust and honesty, in which you and your team can speak candidly. Ensure you are scheduling conversations with your employees to discuss their career goals – both short and long term – and how you can support these. If you currently don’t know what a given employee’s development goals are, it might be time to check in again. Showing this interest demonstrates to your team a genuine care for their wellbeing and development and makes them much more likely to stay engaged. In this way, you can be a more person-focused manager.

  Ensure Varied Work

IP professionals are individuals who are incredibly accomplished and knowledgeable in their technical area. Every individual is different in their working preferences. While some attorneys may enjoy working in-house and focus on a specific technology area, others might crave exposure to a variety of technologies. If members of your team are the latter, they might feel disengaged after working on a series of projects in the exact same technology area. As an effective manager, it is your responsibility to learn how your team like to work; if you feel one of your employees is disengaging from the sector they once loved, you might need to encourage them to take more varied projects. This is particularly relevant within private practice, where you as a team leader might have more remit to encourage joining a more diverse range of projects.

 Foster Work-Life Balance

Countless studies have shown that a good work-life balance leads to enhanced productivity and reduces disengagement from work. As a manager, it is your responsibility to encourage taking breaks, setting boundaries between leisure and work time, and voicing concerns about burnout. Be consistent in your messages to the team and discourage consistently staying late and overworking. You should also be modelling these behaviours yourself. In the long run, employees who can see that you respect their free time are going to be more willing to undertake extra work in an extraordinary situation, as they know that this will not become the norm in your team. For more tips on ensuring your team has a good work-life balance, read our article on overcoming busyness culture.

Reward Employee Achievements

When people feel appreciated, they are far more motivated to produce work of a consistently high quality. Don’t save praise for annual reviews; positive feedback often has more impact in the moment. Make it clear that you see and appreciate your teams’ hard work, and they will want to work hard for you as a manager. Furthermore, celebrating one another’s wins can boost the cohesion of the team as a whole.

If you take a genuine, sustained interest in your employees then you will see this reflected in their working efforts and attitude. By being an engaging manager and proactively addressing potential friction points, you can prevent quiet quitting before it even starts.



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