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Celebrating quiet quitting?

Dr Jan Smith

The term Quiet Quitting seems to have taken hold and is trending in many spaces. Essentially, it refers to not doing more than what our job requires and, in some cases, restricting efforts at work. This is not anything new, and there have always been employees that have only done as their role necessitates.

I wonder whether this label has taken hold because people can resonate with it now more than ever. We know that many employees feel burned out and anxious about returning to working environments and are not feeling valued by their organisation. This impacts not only performance, but how engaged and motivated individuals feel to contribute to their role, projects, and team goals.

When COVID-19 happened, the world was catapulted into an unknown, personally and professionally. How people worked changed beyond recognition, and they adapted to this as best they could. This was a life-changing time for many, and they never returned to pre-COVID-19 life. At a time when we were adjusting to returning to ‘normal’, the Russia-Ukraine war broke out. Many understandably felt heightened levels of anxiety and a feeling of unsafety in their world. Conversely, these times also allowed people to (re)assess what was important to them and make decisions about their careers in the hope of better work-life integration.

There are significant retention issues in some industries, where workers have felt unable to continue in their roles because they are burned out and overworked. This is a challenging time for many organisations and professions as they begin to actively focus on retaining existing staff and recruiting into vacant positions. Many individuals’ mental health has been negatively affected because they have gone above and beyond to contribute to their organisation, ensuring the sustainability of their business despite world events. Their goodwill has run dry. Quiet Quitting needs reframing and rewarding. By setting healthy boundaries, employees can maintain their mental health and wellbeing. Not only so they can survive in their role: but they can also thrive and have a long, fulfilling career.

Setting healthy boundaries in the workplace is a skill that many leaders and managers want to encourage their staff to have and workers want to apply. However, in the absence of being taught how to do this, on both parts, it can feel difficult to know where to start or how to develop these skills. We’ve found that by including topics and tools into our MindYourself App that teaches employees how to set boundaries, navigate difficult conversations, and create positive working cultures, they feel better resourced. Leaders can also model this to their employees, so the expectation can shift from giving everything to a job, to one where we try our best, knowing this will look different each day.

It is an anxious time for many leaders, with unpredictable times ahead. Often, we find many are doing all they can to nurture their teams without caring for themselves. Through our work with leaders over the years, we have observed how nurturing themselves feels like a luxury because they are at the organisation’s helm, working hard to ensure goals are realised. We knew specific content in our MindYourself App needed to be dedicated to leaders learning to lead with compassion for both teams and themselves.

When anyone feels undervalued and demotivated, they are less likely to be engaged in work. Quiet Quitting in any organisation is symptomatic of something underlying. If this phenomenon is considered differently, it can provide organisations with an opportunity to create ways their workforce can develop long-term sustainable working practices rather than being pushed beyond their limits. It can be a time to act, a time to change.

Dr Jan Smith

Chartered Psychologist, Author, CEO and Founder

MindYourself | Healthy You Ltd

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