Quietly quitting has instilled a minor concern, perhaps anxiety, a little fear for managers, leaders and CEO’s.
Here is why you shouldn’t panic just yet.
It has become a catchphrase that some may see as encouraging presenteeism and absenteeism in the workplace. We know from the Productivity Commission Report that this is escalating in the workforce.
The notion of quietly quitting may seem like it is encouraging people to drop out to do the bare minimum rather than going above and beyond.
I totally endorse people not to overload themselves and I understand the sentiment. However, we also need to avoid creating a situation where people feel that they have to opt out of their passion, their motivation and their right to speak up, which is only going to lead to a lack of innovation and productivity.
So how do we maintain loyal and motivated staff without risks to the employee and the organization?
It’s a tricky balance I want you to think about for a moment, there’s a significant anniversary in Australia on the 23rd of August 1966.
Gurindji Stockmen, domestic workers and their families initiated the strike action at Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory.
Now, this strike was not only related to Aboriginal workers not being paid for all of their work, but this walkout and the strike that they activated, also led to the return of a portion of their homelands being given back to the Gurindji people in 1974. It also saw the passing of the first legislation that allowed First Nations people to claim the land title if they could prove traditional relationship to their country. So that action had significant long-term consequences that were important to the empowerment of not only the workers but for indigenous land rights.
Unfortunately, not everybody has a voice or feels safe speaking up in the workplace. We know that there are strikes and there are walkouts like Wave Hill, but these situations are not always going to instill change in the workplace. When we feel psychologically unsafe, unvalued or if we don’t feel protected in the workplace, then we’re going to protest quietly, and sometimes it can even be unconsciously.
What are the tips that we can use to prevent creating this culture where people must quietly quit?
1. Creating a culture of clear communication
We don’t want to create a culture where ideas are going to be shut down, where people are preventing ideas from being shared or they’re going to be ignored. We want to avoid that kind of environment being created. We want to encourage people to speak up, to oppose things or oppose ideas, to seek solutions from others. Or even if we feel we know the answers and what’s right, it’s still worth asking and to continually ask people to speak up, to make it a routine and take it as part of the process.
How can you incorporate that into the procedures?
2. Be responsive when you face a challenge
No point pushing back, arguing, or ignoring people, especially when they are challenged by how things are happening within the workplace. We want an environment where we can embrace the team and have challenging conversations professionally and constructively.
As leaders, we want to create the right culture for that to happen. So, when those Stockman walked off Wave Hill. It actually took seven years before that dispute was resolved, so you can only imagine the impact it had in the company that owned Wave Hill. It must have cost them a fortune for what they were doing to their indigenous staff on the station.
You want to be able to demonstrate your commitment to negotiation, change, innovation and progress because it’s inevitable that things are going to change.
Just take a look at Virgin Airlines, for example, who allows their air stewards to have tattoos. Back in the 50s that would have been unheard of. This implies that two things are going to progress, innovate and you want to demonstrate you have a culture of innovation.
It’s not enough to just hear people out. Words without actions become very shallow and it’s just going to breed cynicism. People are going to quietly quit if they feel that the words aren’t justified with any action. You have to make sure that you’ll back up your words with some form of action.
You want to create a healthy debate where you can have ideas challenged. When those ideas are challenged, you can explain “why” decision have been made, and also allow space and time for people to adapt. That way, people feel heard, they understand the culture and why choices and procedures exist.
Sometimes when there are conflicts and tensions, it is when there’s different strains of the culture. Different teams or cliques take precedent and create their own culture.
Jeff Bezos, from Amazon said to his to his staff, let’s disagree and address the issue head on. So, what he would say to his team is: Look, I know we don’t agree here, but will you gamble with me on it? Can we disagree and still commit?
I think it’s a healthy approach.
I know myself, as an employee, I have voiced my objection to an idea or process but have been willing to take on what is being recommended to me by the leadership. At the end of the day, two outcomes are possible; either they’re going to prove that they were right and you were wrong, or, you’re going to be able to prove you were right all along and they were wrong!
It’s worth creating the healthy debate, but also going along with the gamble.
3. Create a space where you can listen to feedback and be open to change
We want people to feel inspired to innovate and contribute to a positive workplace culture that’s going to also inspire others.
It has become vitally important for people to have a culture of well-being; physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s now less about the kudos or position title, or the income. What is becoming more prevalent and desired by the employee is a culture of well-being within the workplace.
So how is that implemented in your workplace? When do you take into consideration the wellbeing challenges that people have in the workplace?
When people can contribute their own ideas and experiences this can lead to innovation. For example, my local Woolworths decided to assist customers with sensory needs. Every Tuesday between 10:30 and 11:30 is the quiet hour at Woolworths. During the quiet hour, the store lowers their lights, they turn down the music and the radio and they avoid PA announcements as much as possible, and they even turn off the oven buzzers.
This reduces sensory stimulation and allows customers time to shop in for those customers that would otherwise not be able to and find the trip overwhelming.Who came up with that idea, and isn’t it brilliant?
And for anyone who understands that, imagine the contribution and the recommendations they could contribute to that Initiative, rather than being resentful that this shop creates an environment for their friends or family that is unpleasant and stressful. They’re going to be inspired, motivated and potentially contribute more ideas to create such a beautiful space for people to be able to do their shopping.
We often leave feedback as being negative but if we can create a space where we can listen to the feedback and be open to change, that can be incredibly powerful. Feedback doesn’t need to be negative; we can use it to be constructive as people can provide feedback that is objecting to the ways things are occurring..
How can we learn from that?
What can it tell us about the process?
How can we adapt, evolve and change?
How can that inform us?
Success doesn’t mean that you have no negative feedback. Success doesn’t mean that you have no problems. Success will mean that you have better-quality feedback that will inform you of what you need to change and improve in your workplace culture. It can also inform you of improvements in what you can offer to your staff, to your customers and your clients.
Here’s a question that was posed to me and I thought this one was really interesting.
Could you be brave and ask a number of your team about what don’t we talk about around here that we should talk about? Isn’t that an interesting question? What kind of topics are going to come up around that question? If people feel safe sharing more of themselves, we’re going to allow more innovation, more creativity and better-quality problem.
How well do you roll with the punches?
Discover how you score against key resilience indicators and increase your ability to minimise stress, maximise time, live well and roll with the punches.
How it works:
- Answer 25 simple questions
- Generate results instantly
- Receive feedback to enhance your score
Listen to the Podcast here
About the Author
Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships
- Create an environment that helps the team have a safe space to speak up.
- Respond in a timely manner if we face a challenge in the workplace.
- Be open to change and adapting them.
- Ignore or discredit ideas that are shared or objections that are made.
- Pass the opportunity for your team to contribute innovative ideas.
- Increase psychological risk by preventing people from challenging the status quo.