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Employers have long received freebies from the workforce. ADP research reveals that employees work an average of nine hours of unpaid overtime each week, which equates to a loss of $17,726 in annual income. Is it any wonder that Gallup research finds that 64% of workers are either not engaged, or worse, actively disengaged from their work?
No, and many burnt-out employees refuse to take it any longer, resulting in “quiet quitting”. This phenomenon spread like wildfire during the summer of 2022, thanks to a viral TikTok video. In the clip, New York musician Zeid Leppelin describes how to stop the hustle mentality and stop going above and beyond at work. Thousands have responded by sharing their own quiet ending stories – saying “no” to unpaid overtime and refusing to respond to 24/7 job postings.
Quietly quitting has attracted a lot of attention, with some critics missing the point entirely – accusing their employees of being lazy and “mentally checking out” of their work. But what if managers recognize that they have the power to improve the situation for their employees? Here are five ways to respond to silent interrupters by better supporting them:
Related: 8 ways to keep your employees from going quiet
1. Implement 360 feedback cycles
If we consider putting up a cry for help, managers should proactively listen to their workforce by introducing 360 feedback cycles. Traditional performance appraisals provide downward feedback from a manager to a subordinate. Managers talk, and employees listen. The problem with this one-way street is that managers don’t get a sense of how their employees are coping or how they feel about the organization.
We can use 360-degree reviews to ask them! This feedback style collects the thoughts and opinions of peers, managers, and direct reports, so lower-level employees provide valuable truths (anonymously, if preferred) about company culture, leadership styles, communication strategies, and anything else that affects engagement or productivity.
If 60% of employees say they are overworked and receive DMs from their manager on the weekends, clearly you need to support your employees by taking action!
2. Prioritize career mapping
Employees lose enthusiasm when they cannot visualize their future in your company. Make it easy for your employees to be excited about coming to work by highlighting a variety of career growth and development opportunities.
Career mapping involves building paths across your org chart to show how each individual contributor can get a promotion or move laterally to another department. Remember: Not everyone wants to be a leader. But these contributors should still have access to enriching career paths that will contribute to the company’s success.
Be transparent by defining skills and training requirements for each role, so employees know exactly how to achieve their career goals.
Related: Is Your Employee Development Broken? Here’s how to fix it.
3. Offer flexibility
Flexibility is not a buzzword; it is an expectation. The pandemic allowed employees to evaluate their priorities and enjoy life outside of work. For some workers, this has meant ditching the commute, having the opportunity to attend their child’s school concert in the middle of the day or working from home permanently.
If you don’t offer flexible working options, don’t be surprised if you lack staff support. Although it is challenging to let go of old models, the workplace is evolving and companies must change with the times. And flexible working is also a win for employers, as Gartner research shows that 43% of workers feel more productive when they can choose their work hours and don’t have to commute.
Retain your best talent by participating in the program and offering more flexible working arrangements. This may include offering remote positions, compressed hours, preloaded work weeks or sabbaticals.
4. Model healthy work-life boundaries
If your company culture is full of toxic habits, but you don’t know how to break them, look to the top of the tree. Leaders are responsible for setting expectations for the team – those who send emails or Slack messages at midnight give the wrong impression. Many “quiet quitters” who have chosen to delete work apps from their phones are simply trying to break the cycle of burnout that starts at the top.
Support your team by creating a clear communication policy that outlines when and how all employees should contact each other during work hours and the expectation to take a communication break each day and on weekends.
There is also room for healthier working life boundaries throughout the working day. If your employees’ schedules consist of Zoom call after Zoom call, insist that you build in comfort breaks between meetings. You can also implement no-meeting days or switch to asynchronous tools to give employees a break from being constantly “on”.
Related: 5 Ways to Ensure Employee Happiness in Your Business
5. Review employee benefits
Employee benefits are the ultimate way to support your workforce. Start by surveying your employees to understand what they want and need from their benefits package – this would work well in a 360 survey. The most popular benefits include health insurance, retirement savings plans, paid time off and student loan repayment assistance. But mental health services, child care, pet insurance, and fertility benefits are also great ways to acknowledge that your team members have lives outside of work.
The company’s closings are quickly increasing as a holiday benefit for employees. The idea is simple: the office closes, and every worker takes the same week off, so employees don’t feel stressed about being out of the office. There is zero pressure to check in about work, as nothing happens. It’s an important way to encourage employees to take their full vacation entitlement and enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Don’t wait for calm quitters to actually quit
Quitting quietly is a relatively new trend, and we have yet to see how it will develop. But at the pace of the major restructuring, it is not a great leap to predict that many quiet leavers will end up jumping ship to be with a more supportive employer.
When your employees decide to make positive changes in their individual work situations, they are already feeling discouraged. Get ahead of the trend by taking action right now to remove signs of workplace toxicity so your company is filled with motivated and rejuvenated employees.