A month ago, the term “quiet quitting” hadn’t made much of a mark. A social media post on the concept went viral – and now everyone is talking about it.

I was delighted to join BBC News’ The Context broadcast and speak to host Nuala McGovern about quiet quitting – and how business leaders can address it.

What is quiet quitting? It means employees are no longer going “above and beyond” – they’re doing exactly what their job description says they should do. They’re not taking on extra work; they’re doing what they’re paid to do.

The pandemic – across the globe – has put tremendous stress upon employees, no matter the industry. People have been asked to do way above normal because of staffing shortages, people quitting, etc.

Employees are emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. We used to talk in the HR industry about people “quit and leave” and people who “quit and stay.” Quiet quitting isn’t the same as “quit and stay.” It is team members literally doing only what you paid them for.

Nuala McGovern asked if quiet quitting is just a new term for an age-old problem within the workplace of having perhaps a non-motivated workforce.

What’s different today is the impact of a crappy culture – and the choices available to employees in this market.

Most business leaders don’t pay attention to the quality of their work culture, but employees really do. And so here in the US, we’ve had 60 million Americans voluntarily their jobs since January 2021. It’s particularly different now because people aren’t going back to work for companies or leaders they don’t respect. They’re not going back to work for companies where they were mistreated. For people who have not resigned – yet – quiet quitting gives them space and time to reflect. They’re doing the bare minimum because they don’t think they’re being treated fairly. They aren’t being respected or validated daily.

Nuala asked how bosses and companies can turn that around.

Business leaders have no choice. They must pay attention to the quality of their work culture. And again, most leaders have never been asked to do that. They’ve never been taught how to do if they find their work culture is lacking.

The single best way to retain and attract talented, engaged team members is for business leaders to shift from a work culture where results are the only important thing to a work culture where respect is important as results.

When employees feel respected, they bring their best thinking. They solve problems proactively. They go beyond the minimum because they love the company. They feel respected by their bosses and their colleagues in every interaction.

Employers and bosses must take a hard look at the degree to which their people are treated civilly every day, and at the degree to which employees are respected every day for their ideas, efforts, and contributions. The reality is that many, many more organizations demean and discount employees rather than validate and respect employees.

Watch the live broadcast below.

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Good Comes First (2021) and The Culture Engine (2014).
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