While it isn’t a new phenomenon, many of us might be familiar with the behavior but not have a term connected to it, that is, until now. You may have heard the term "quiet quitting" recently as the latest workplace trend, many thanks to influencers on TikTok, but it has been around long before social media ever existed. Generally, there are multiple definitions floating around as to what quiet quitting is, and what it means for the workplace.
Upon first hearing the term, many might mistake quiet quitting as slacking off at work, but that is not entirely true. Some people define it as not taking on more work and setting boundaries with employers to avoid burnout, while others say it’s simply not going above and beyond your job description. Most will agree that quiet quitting doesn’t mean you're leaving the job, or quitting at all.
Either way you look at it, if you’re a Startup Founder, this is something that can affect your business, so keep reading to gain a better understanding of what quiet quitting could mean for your company.
Silence in the workplace is often seen as an indicator of productivity. People who are not talking are building something, going somewhere, or doing something important — in a perfect world, that is. But this isn't always the case. Sometimes people are just quiet because they're tired of being interrupted by their colleagues and boss, or because they're bored with what's happening around them and don't know how to let others know that they need a break from the monotony.
Hustle culture has been running the work environment for decades, especially in the world of startups, and while "this is the way" for previous generations, Gen Z employees have a different idea about what work-life balance should be.
In the past, resigning from a job was seen as a sign of weakness and failure. It was considered to be something that you should do only when you have no other choice. But nowadays, people are becoming more and more aware of the power of quitting.
Traditional quitting is not only an act of defiance but now can be seen as an act of self-preservation. It is a way to say “enough is enough” and it can be done in many ways: by resigning in protest, going on strike, or by withdrawing from the system. Resigning can also mean giving up on a job that you hate or leaving behind toxic relationships in order to start over again with new people and new places. But Quiet Quitting — that is another thing completely.
With these thought processes in mind, quiet quitting can be seen as a positive alternative to a hard two-week notice. Employers can get a sense of where their team needs support, and get ahead of total employee burnout. Of course, quiet quitters could be hard to spot at first, or not interested in changing their mindset under the guise of "setting healthy boundaries" but that doesn't mean that they are a total lost cause to the workforce.
In a startup, employees are an essential part of the team. The longer subscribing engaged workers are easy to depend on and push the company forward. Additional work is seen as job security and welcomed with open arms. However, in a time of new generations entering the workforce, remote work on the rise, and the great resignation, this caliber of an employee seems rare to find.
With the wrong type of employee, remote work can only add to the distance workers feel. Managers aren't able to check in face-to-face with their employees to pick up on energy, facial cues, and body language — a lot can be missed.
There is always the possibility for the quiet quitting mindset to internally rip apart morale with the rest of the team if they are sharing their point of view privately. Companies relying on professionals to take their career seriously (without worrying whether they are getting paid enough to incentivize productivity) need to be cautious of the difference between a quiet worker that gets a lot accomplished, and a quiet worker that lives under the idea that job descriptions are the only tasks they are willing to take on.
A lot of startups need the man-hours put in, especially in the early stages of building a company. They're in desperate need of employees willing to put in overtime on a deadline crunch and take on any responsibility given at any time. Working at a startup takes a special type of person that is in it for the long haul, where workers practicing "quiet quitting mode" can only be depended on for a limited time.
Working overtime is the name of the game for the Founder of a company. They signed on to this wild ride like they were their own shark tank investor (without the comfy chairs and loads of money, of course). The idea that employees will match this energy is every Founder's dream — and it isn't impossible to achieve with the right person.
It's crucial to narrow down expectations and create a clear understanding of the skills, behaviors, and growth options (and how to achieve them) for every position needing to be filled. If Founders don't do this extra work before someone is hired, they might get stuck with workers that cause more stress than if the Founder did all the jobs themselves.
It's important to recognize the signs that someone is in the motions to quiet quit their job. It can be hard to tell, but it's not always a bad thing. Sometimes people are just looking for a change, or needing the inspiration to get out of a rut, and it's important to be supportive of them.
There are some warning signs that managers need to look out for if you think someone is silently quitting their job.
- Lack of enthusiasm in their work or lack of interest in the company’s goals
- They set boundaries early, and often
- Constant complaining about how they don't get enough recognition
- They do the bare minimum of their job, and nothing more
- Extra work is a burden to them
- They often speak sarcastically about their work conditions
- Not pulling their weight with team projects
- They're constantly unhappy with their workload or responsibilities
Many employees desire a work-life balance where they can still focus on their passions while putting in the proper amount of hours in exchange for getting paid. While Gen Z has been paving the way for a new practice many find attractive, this is not a new concept.
Because they believe they have little influence over their work or the way they execute it, employees are frequently too agitated to communicate their opinions or thoughts. Making sure that workers are aware of their rights at work is the best method for businesses to address this problem. The organization should give workers a way to communicate their opinions about their position, as this frequently leads to greater levels of trust and collaboration at work.
You don't have to be a career coach to identify the basic needs of an employee, but you do have to be versed in the startup demands before offering anyone a position they're not willing to fill. Startups need dedicated workers that will give more than expected because they are emotionally invested in the success of the startup as whole.
Those that go above and beyond fin their work are more than just employees, they are team members — whether in an office or working remotely.
This article was created to shed light on quiet quitting and how it can be caused by various factors, including managing stress levels, company culture, or stage of life.
Some solutions that have been proposed are to provide development opportunities, offer better compensation packages, and improve morale within the workplace.
The best way to prevent quiet quitters from forming within your startup is by making sure employees feel valued and heard while going above and beyond for them to make sure expectations are met from both sides.
A long time ago, someone told Sarah that she was going to do great things. And even though that person was her own reflection looking in the mirror, those words have carried her through the thick of it all. You may find her singing in her car, cleaning things as stress relief, or using humor in uncomfortable situations. Sarah is a professional photographer, expert-level copy editor, copywriter, digital creator, and a nice lady to boot!