Quietlyquitting

QUIETLY QUITTING

QUIETLY QUITTING

Quietlyquitting

“Now that we’re hopefully passed ‘The Great Resignation,’ what is this ‘Quietly Quitting’ phenomenon I now need to worry about?”

The client on the phone with her Abel Personnel recruiter wasn’t a big fan of small talk, and would typically start a phone call posing such a question without even a “hello, is this a good time to talk?” The recruiter had become accustomed to this style, knowing that personal updates were usually shared only after they had concluded the business portion of their phone call.

“Besides the cute alliteration, I think we’ve experienced this behavior forever. It has been rebranded by some managers to explain workplace situations they do want to own,” replied the recruiter. She added, “It’s unfair to blame this on Gen Z’s laziness and lack of professionalism, or think it’s just about job dissatisfaction.”

The two women then began to unpack this latest personnel management trend. The typical elements are:

  • Mentally checking out of work, meetings, and correspondence
  • Feeling exhausted from work volume or putting in more (typically unpaid) hours than might be called “occasional overtime”
  • A disengaged employee with a lack of enthusiasm for work
  • Reluctance or refusal to take additional tasks or extra projects than is expected from their “pay grade”
  • Learning the bare minimum effort to make at work, then making that effort

“But aren’t they interested in getting ahead, taking on more responsibility?” the client wanted to know.

“Yes and no,” was the short reply. The longer reply identified these factors:

  • Mentally checking out of work, meetings, and correspondence
  • Feeling exhausted from work volume or putting in more (typically unpaid) hours than might be called “occasional overtime”
  • A disengaged employee with a lack of enthusiasm for work
  • Reluctance or refusal to take additional tasks or extra projects than is expected from their “pay grade”
  • Learning the bare minimum effort to make at work, then making that effort

Empathizing, Gabi then reported on a large EV battery manufacturing client who had addressed all the supply chain issues with building materials, equipment, and raw materials but had not identified a source of labor with the skill training and experience. This oversight was requiring a plant redesign to increase automation for lack of personnel, at a greater cost.

Using Alexa’s notes application on her smartphone, the friends identified the following opportunities to address talent supply chain issues through partnering with a Staffing Firm:

  • Work-Life Balance: Some employees are just not interested in advancing, maybe not now or maybe never, so taking on extra responsibilities and hours upsets their vision of work-life balance. Unlike their parents, they are willing, for now, to accept less pay and opportunities in return for less stress and more time on evenings and weekends to pursue nonwork interests. This was also a root cause of “The Great Resignation.”
  • Management Practices: Others have legitimate complaints that they are hired at junior level pay to do senior level work as a ploy to cut staff expenses in return for the opportunity to learn higher skills. Or, they feel gaslighted into feeling they are lucky to have this job in the face of an upcoming recession. The classic case is the unpaid internship that had been previously a paid position.
  • Misaligned Expectations: The hiring manager has not fully explained the requirements of the job, perhaps even downplaying the amount of overtime needed or trial-by-fire and on-the-job training required to entice the applicant to accept the offer. The applicant may have overstated their willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. They aspire for higher positions to demonstrate assertiveness and dependability to attract the offer.

Rather than feeling comfortable or safe bringing these concerns to their management, these employees stay quiet and curb their efforts until they quit to take a position that addresses these factors.

They agreed that the third factor was likely the other they could most likely influence together. But how?

“I recommend we start with the job descriptions,” the recruiter offered. She suggested that this is both a means to set expectations and hold the employer and employee accountable for those expectations. If overtime is likely, set a range or a weekly average, whether paid or unpaid. If greater responsibilities are occasionally required, state that. There may be times when this position must pitch in to help with tasks below their level. The more information, the better, without presenting too many requirements that it no longer appears to be a 40-hour-per-week job.

“I see how my one-paragraph job descriptions may not be cutting it, “ the client admitted.

“That’s why part of my services to my clients is to help them refine their job descriptions, which in some ways are like their resume. It helps me hone in on the right fit for the position, and improves the likelihood that the match works based on well-understood expectations upfront. However, there are three other considerations,” the recruiter then suggested:

  • Legacy Job Descriptions: Often the job description provided, perhaps in great detail, was the description used for the last hire five years ago. Positions evolve, and duties change. From observing the performance of the previous person in this position, what are the expectations of the next person to be more successful? Sometimes a new job description presents what activities the last high-achieving person in that position performed, perhaps setting unreasonable expectations and subjecting the new hire to constant comparison to her better experienced and fully trained predecessor.
  • Fulfill Opportunity Promises: The best applicants will want the job in part to develop skills and have experiences they feel they need to advance their careers. Including such opportunities in the job description may suggest a commitment that their employer needs to fill. If the job description identifies meeting with clients and visiting field installations, that should happen; don’t assume that is a requirement the new employee was hoping to forgo.
  • Work-Life Flexibility: If the candidate is a serious contender for the position, have a frank discussion about what work-life balance they are looking to achieve, without asking any EEOE questions. What are the boundaries? An employer’s flexibility to support an employee’s desired balance may be rewarded by the employee’s greater flexibility to support the employer’s needs. In one case, an applicant’s weekend responsibilities made it difficult to work then, but he was able to work overtime on short notice weeknights.

The phone call concluded with the client committing to reviewing and likely rewriting the job descriptions within the next week. Abel Personnel recruiter then promised a quick turnaround in a review of these updated job descriptions. They also agreed that better job descriptions would not solve “quietly quitting,” but may decrease this phenomenon when it was based mainly on miscommunication.

Sourced from Career Contessa, “What is Quietly Quitting?” Caileen Kehayas Holden, August 18, 2022

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