How Small Businesses Can Manage Quiet Quitting
Regular communication and employee recognition can help reduce employees quiet quitting.
A recent poll from Gallup contained some shocking news for employers: Half of all workers surveyed said they were not engaged, meaning they were doing only the minimum amount required and psychologically detached from their work. This phenomenon has been dubbed "quiet quitting"—but what is quiet quitting? While it’s been around for a long time, the idea of just meeting the job description to collect a paycheck has increased sharply as workers, especially employees under age 35, emerge from the pandemic with a new attitude toward work-life balance.
For companies, ignoring this trend can be costly. Globally, employees who are not engaged or actively disengaged account for $7.8 billion in lost productivity, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report. Silent quitting is not just a problem at big corporations, either. Employees at small- and medium-size businesses can also be less engaged and the effects can be even more dramatic in a small workforce.
On the flip side, small- and medium-size business owners have a distinct advantage when it comes to managing quiet quitting. They are likely more in touch with their employees so they can identify employee disengagement sooner and take direct steps to reverse this trend.
Here are three tools that can help businesses identify quiet quitting in their workforce and turn that negative vibe into one of enthusiasm and motivation.
Employers who directly engage with their employees may have an easier time spotting quiet quitting in its early stages and turning the situation around. Regular communication helps management understand how satisfied employees are with their jobs. They can hear, and hopefully address, concerns before the problems fester and cause complete disengagement. At the same time, they have the chance to inform employees on their plans and goals for the business and their role within them.
Gallup found that meeting with each individual employee once a week for 15 to 30 minutes can keep communication lines open and effective. This can be especially important for remote workers, who may already feel disconnected from the business. If the workforce is too large for top management to meet individually with each employee, be sure executives are doing so with each of their team members and that employee feedback is making its way up to the C-suite.
Firms are finding that flexible schedules and work-life balance are top on their employees’ priority lists. During the pandemic, workers discovered the benefits of working remotely with more autonomy and increased attention to physical, emotional and financial wellness. They want those trends to continue. Research at Stanford University, for instance, showed that workers were willing to take a pay cut if they could keep hybrid work schedules with some remote work.
In addition, regular meetings will let help companies know if the problem is boredom. Many employees may be ready for more challenges that allow them to become a more active part of the team.
The demands of running a business can be overwhelming for any entrepreneur. It is easy to take employee achievements and progress for granted, while properly acknowledging employees’ hard work can sometimes take a back seat. But this neglect can often lead to disengagement. Employees may wonder, "Why work so hard for someone else’s bottom line if no one even notices?" If a business relies on a remote or hybrid workforce, recognition can be even more challenging.
But recognition can go a long way toward making employees feel like part of the team. They can see how their work contributes to the organization’s goals and purpose. Recognition includes guidance on what employees could be doing even better. However, most workers can see through fake praise. What they crave is honest, useful feedback. That type of recognition is also a sign they are a vital part of the success of the business.
As every business owner knows, recognition also comes in the form of raises and bonuses. With record inflation, some employees are likely struggling to cover higher everyday costs. Small businesses want to be sure pay scales are fair and competitive to keep employees motivated and prevent them from leaving for other jobs.
But also keep in mind that recognition is not always about money. Alternative forms of compensation—flexible schedules, help with child or elderly caretaking and a financial wellness benefit—are the types of supplements that can produce a more loyal workforce.
Focus on the Future
Employees can lose motivation if they are worried about the future of their employer, especially during times of economic uncertainty. Firms should try to be as transparent as possible with the status of the business—in good times as well as bad. By sharing marketing, cost management and profit building strategies with staff, they will feel more connected to the outcome.
By the same token, it’s also important to guide employees through a growth spurt or especially busy time for your business. Workers will see they are a vital part of that growth, but that the company has a plan for managing the growth so they don’t feel exploited or burned out.
Of course, a business can’t always accommodate everyone’s concerns. Sometimes it’s best to part company on good terms. But those cases are rare. Making genuine efforts to communicate and recognize employees can go a long way toward bucking the quiet quitting trend.