A tired-looking young woman sits in front of an open laptop with her head leaning on one hand. She's sitting beside a floor-to-ceiling window, through which can be seen a grassy area bisected with a white pathway. The woman wears glasses and a tan jacket over a white blouse.
Employees who are quiet quitting are often setting stronger boundaries in regards to their jobs in response to issues like burnout, dissatisfaction, and a poor work-life balance. — Getty Images/Kilito Chan

Quiet quitting — the act of doing only tasks pertaining to an employee's job description and nothing more — is a growing trend in the modern workplace. At least 50% of the American workforce consists of “quiet quitters,” with Gallup data suggesting the number of actively disengaged workers has increased in the second quarter of 2022.

The idea of quiet quitting is to rebel against the “hustle” mentality of work, going above and beyond to stand out, and working long hours. Some employees who participate in quiet quitting are trying to create boundaries and a work-life balance by leaving their work at work. For others, quiet quitting could be a sign an employee is unhappy and no longer willing to put in the extra effort without seeing some kind of reward for it.

Here are five things your company can learn from the quiet quitting trend, including how these changes can help create a positive company culture.

[Read more: 5 Small Business Owners Reveal Their Best Employee Retention Strategies]

Develop and coach your employees

Ask employees about their interests and career goals so you can provide opportunities for them to grow at your company. Additionally, if you find an employee is struggling to manage their current workload, brainstorm ways to lessen the burden and boost their productivity and fulfillment without burning out.

Additionally, offer praise to employees for a job well done so they feel valued for their hard work. Employees who feel appreciated will be more inclined to go “above and beyond.”

Encourage employees to discuss their concerns

Create an environment and safe space where feedback and constructive criticism is welcomed among employees to those on the management level. By allowing employees to feel comfortable vocalizing their wants and needs, you allow them to have a say in their own future. This helps create a sense of belonging and loyalty to your company.

Be transparent about raises

Although some employees may be inclined to accept a job for less pay if they enjoy the work, what is keeping them there once they become disengaged? Being transparent about the opportunity for annual — and even quarterly — raises depending on job performance can help motivate your employees who may feel like they have no goals or milestones to achieve. If employees are aware of scheduled performance reviews that could come with salary increases, they may be more inclined to work hard on everyday tasks.

Check in while employees are working at your company [rather than] when things get tough.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw, author, public speaker, and CEO of TalenTrust

Provide remote work and work flexibility

Prioritize the well-being of your staff by allowing remote work and flexibility, which can lead to a better work-life balance. Employees who don’t feel as though they have to constantly count vacation and sick time and are able to have some flexibility in their schedules are less likely to suffer from stress and burnout.

Consider allowing employees to create their own work schedules without set “9-to-5” office hours, as this will provide a greater sense of freedom. Trust your workers will meet deadlines without constantly monitoring them.

[Read more: How to Track Remote Worker Productivity]

Proactively check in with your employees before they disengage

If you’ve observed an employee who appears to have quietly quit, it’s probably too late to reverse the issue, said Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust.

“Check in while employees are working at your company [rather than] when things get tough,” she said. “Companies tell me they know why people are leaving, yet they collect that data as they are leaving. Do employers really think employees are going to tell them the truth at that point?”

Quinn Votaw recommended being proactive and checking in frequently with employees, no matter how happy they may seem in their role. At a minimum, she advised issuing quarterly “pulse surveys” to gauge the employee experience and hosting regular town hall meetings with key executives. Leaders can then follow up on key issues that employees bring up.

“Act on the information you get here,” said Quinn Votaw. “What are you going to change? What aren’t you going to change?”

Ultimately, preventing quiet quitting comes down to truly caring about your employees.

“We need to talk to one another and dare to care about what we need, when we need it, and work together to create great places to work,” Quinn Votaw told CO—.

[Read more: 5 Things to Do When an Employee Leaves Your Company]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 14, 2022