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Quiet quitting is tragic and unnecessary

Cornerstone Editors

Everyone is talking about quiet quitting. Employees are choosing to work no more than absolutely necessary, doing only the bare minimum required. Is it because they feel underappreciated and underpaid, despite working around the clock?

While some think it's good that workers are finally speaking their minds, others think it's exactly this attitude that keeps people from being promoted. And some consider changing jobs altogether when feeling this way. Think about how much time we spend working during a lifetime. A job should be fun, inspiring and engaging. It should be challenging, but not to the point of having a breakdown.

The aftermath of the pandemic

The term quiet quitting was coined on TikTok by Generation Z, i.e., the generation born around the turn of the millennium that grew up with the Internet and social media. They're now in their 20s and 30s and are just entering the workforce, and the quiet quitting debate has spread like wildfire worldwide.

It's not surprising that people have this reaction during a pandemic. There's been a great deal of anxiety at work, with many people having to take on additional responsibilities due to unforeseen, urgent situations. Juggling remote work makes it harder to set and maintain boundaries.

To a large extent, quiet quitting is about good leadership, something that has been truly put to the test in recent years. It certainly isn't easy to lead in a scattered organization, where some people are always working from home and others are in the office. It will take time for managers to find good ways to handle these new situations.

How widespread is quiet quitting?

A Gallup poll estimates that half of all employees in the USA have quietly quit or are considering it. At its foundation, quiet quitting is about two things: commitment and setting boundaries. Commitment is not the same as working around the clock. Businesses with committed staff are often very transparent about the expectations and responsibilities around various roles and positions.

Solutions driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), such as the Cornerstone's Skills Engine, allow you to map the individual knowledge and experience of all employees against different roles in the organization. Employees receive suggestions for different development paths in the organization that are unique to them. They can clearly see what is required to take them to the next level, from training courses to achieve their goals to examples of others who have taken the same journey. It's easy for staff to discuss an internal career path with their manager.

What do employees want?

Committed employees are often interested in taking on greater responsibility to see themselves as part of the future of the company. Showing ambition doesn't necessarily mean working more hours. Instead, it's about making the best use of time in the smartest way possible. Questions around employee development gain new significance when each individual's career path looks entirely different. It's important to consider where they are in life and their personal circumstances. Some may have small children or health concerns. Communication and understanding make it easier to push back if demands become overwhelming.

Setting boundaries is one of the most difficult things to do. As Josh Bersin says in his post on quiet quitting, "If you're just personally fed up, either tell someone or do something about it. We as employees have much more power than you think." There's also a lot that employers can do, but this is only possible if they're aware there's a problem. Due to the current scarcity of skilled people in some areas, and the difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff, employers are actually more invested than ever in doing everything they can to keep people in their organizations.

Jobseeker's market

It's a jobseeker's market and companies are searching high and low for the right skills. Forward-looking companies have already realized they must invest in their current employees and develop skills for the future. Today, there are advanced technology solutions that can spotlight and outline a clear career path. There's a general trend for employees to drive their own skills development to help them reach their full potential.

Instead of just searching for skilled workers in the external job market, future-ready companies should map the skills they already have in-house and invest in developing them. This is more cost-effective in the short term and also an excellent investment for the future. Cornerstone's research indicates that high-performing organizations invest more in skills development. And their employees are confident they'll get the training they need, resulting in a more engaged workforce.

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