Silent strategies: Embrace quiet hiring and combat quiet quitting
Covid-19 increased quiet quitting. Employees reassessed their priorities. The forced pause allowed staff to take stock of their careers. The pandemic afforded people the time to reevaluate the 9 to 5 grind.
Quiet quitting sees employees disengage from their jobs emotionally and mentally but continue to physically show up. While performing fundamental duties, they disconnect, losing interest in their work. Slowly, this creates an environment of indifference.
Paradoxically, the hustle culture of the 1990s and early 2000s put work at the centre of everything. Long working hours were praised, while time off was frowned upon. If you were not working, you were not worthwhile. There was always more to do, according to the hustle culture narrative, including more money to earn, a greater promotion to land or a higher ceiling to break.
High productivity and the monetisation of every minute were held up as the standards for career success. Hashtags like #sleepisfortheweak and #sleepwhenyoudie abounded. Many have fallen prey to the hustle culture, buying into the idea that it’s vital to push yourself to the max, for each of the 1,440 minutes a day.
That is up until now.
Oh so quiet…..
The tendency for workers to become disillusioned is not a new phenomenon. However, it is clearly on the rise. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report, found that workers who have disengaged from work and lack supportive bonds make up nearly 60% of the workforce, costing the global economy up to 9% of GDP. That is approximately $8.8trn (£6.9trn).
Staff may dislike confrontation with their managers, so they limit themselves to the bare minimum. Dr Alexandra Dobra-Kiel, Innovation & Strategy Director at Behave, thinks one of the primary reasons for quiet quitting is job dissatisfaction.
“Employees may feel unappreciated, undervalued, or overlooked, leading to a lack of motivation and commitment to their work. As well as this, a lack of opportunities for career advancement and professional development can lead to a sense of stagnation and frustration, prompting employees to mentally check out from their jobs,” she says.
Dobra-Kiel believes that high levels of work-related stress and burnout can also negatively impact an employee’s motivation and overall well-being, pushing them towards quiet quitting as a way to cope.
“This in turn refers to a lack of psychological safety in the workplace, meaning employees do not have a safe place to express their feelings towards their work, causing them to disengage to protect themselves from potential backlash or criticism,” she adds.
Stave off quiet quitting
Employers can foster a work environment where employees have a stake in the company’s success. Overcome quiet quitting by creating a culture underpinned by psychological safety. According to Dobra- Kiel, psychological safety is often equated with comfort, but true psychological safety is as much about comfort as it is about discomfort.
“While comfort is necessary, true psychological safety emerges when employees are willing to embrace discomfort. When employees operate solely within their comfort zones, they miss out on opportunities for growth and improvement and, over time, can become quiet quitters.
“Discomfort serves as a catalyst for engagement and motivation, allowing employees to develop new skills, embrace fresh perspectives, and overcome obstacles that may have otherwise hindered their progress,” she says.
Dobra-Kiel outlines how to create an environment underpinned by psychological safety where employees’ ideas and concerns are valued and heard.
“First, organisations should provide opportunities for autonomy and growth by establishing safeguards that encourage employees to take ownership of their work. Secondly, implementing regular feedback mechanisms, both formal and informal, is vital to encourage employees to share their ideas, concerns, and suggestions freely,” she advises.
Implement systems to follow up on staff suggestions, encourage the corporation and show staff how their ideas have been applied. By doing this, companies can demonstrate their commitment to fostering a supportive environment, where employee voices are truly valued.
What about loud quitting? Should we expect a new movement – where employees actively disengage from their jobs and openly express their discontent? And more importantly, what can be done to combat this?
It’s crucial to allow employees to express discontent in a psychosocially safe way – fostering better connections.
“The key here is to ensure that the work environment is underpinned by psychological safety, so that employees do not reach a point of frustration as they are free to express their concerns as they occur, instead of building them up, resulting in a ‘loud quitting’ phenomenon,” says Dobra-Kiel.
Susanne Lund, CEO of Airtame believes that it is more important to create room for all employees to provide regular feedback and express their opinions in safe spaces with their managers and leadership.
“So long as the aim is to mutually work on a solution that brings progress, expressing discontent is a positive part of working together. This principle needs to be ingrained in company culture, feedback practices, and manager systems. Technology can also help facilitate healthy feedback by connecting teams and creating closeness during meetings and collaborations”, she says.
The hashtag dedicated to the trend on TikTok reflects the rise of interest in this approach, with almost 10 million views and counting. Loud quitting may appear to be the exact opposite of quiet quitting. Yet, its ultimate aim is the same – to quit a job.
“If communicative leadership, feedback, and provided flexibility no longer prove sufficient means of engagement, then there is no combating loud quitting, other than to acknowledge it for what it is: quitting”, adds Lund.
Quiet hiring is the inverse of quiet quitting. Due to the skills scarcity, it may take employers many months to fill a post, and the uncertain economy may cause some businesses to purposefully keep a low head count.
A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Smart businesses will increasingly look internally, up-skilling existing people, meaning they don’t have to hire more employees. Importantly, keep communication lines between employee and employer open, if staff get overloaded, a rethink is required.
Quiet hiring is already a major workplace trend this year, as the labour market gets even more competitive. Executed correctly, quiet hiring is a good idea for both employer and employee. The silent hiring strategy is a way to hire and keep talent without having to deal with the complete recruitment process (and expense). Employees are given the chance to take on challenging tasks, develop their current talents, pick up new ones, and advance their careers. As a result, they become more useful to their current organisation and marketable to others.
Quiet hiring can assist your business, filling skill gaps ethically and effectively when done right. It gives your business the adaptability to meet the shifting needs of the market and a better chance of surviving a difficult economic period. It can bridge skills gaps. Finally, employees have a chance to update their skills, maintain their marketability, improve their CVs, and explore new areas.