In the era of “hustle culture” and performative productivity, a phenomenon known as “quiet quitting” has gained traction on social media. This quiet rebellion against excessive work demands highlights the need for a healthier work-life balance and more meaningful engagement in our careers. With only 21% of people engaged at work, according to Gallup’s 2022 “State of the Global Workplace” report, it’s evident that addressing this issue is essential for both employees and employers.
Management expert Emma Soane’s research emphasizes that work engagement hinges on three key factors: the perceived meaningfulness of the job, the quality of management, and the opportunity for open communication with managers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and disengaged, the best approach is to communicate openly with your manager.
Open Dialogue and Setting Boundaries
Simply “quiet quitting” without warning can be a risky strategy. Transparency is crucial in this process, as good managers are likely to be supportive when employees express concerns about burnout and declining engagement. Initiating a conversation with your boss can kickstart positive changes in your workplace by establishing clear boundaries that managers respect.
Ellen Ernst Kossek, an expert in work-life balance, has identified three fundamental styles of boundary management: separation, integration, and cycling between the two. Each approach is valid, so it’s important to identify which one suits your specific circumstances before discussing it with your manager. When approaching the dialogue, focus on proposing solutions rather than merely expressing complaints.
Asking the Right Questions
Even if your line manager is emotionally intelligent, it’s essential to ask the right questions to engage more deeply and feel valued. Find a suitable time to initiate the conversation, when your boss is not stressed and more receptive to dialogue. Express your dissatisfaction and the reasons behind it, as those who are quietly quitting often feel undervalued, overworked, and in need of a better work-life balance.
Here are some questions that can help kickstart the conversation:
- What are your thoughts on the quality of my work?
- How do you perceive the hours I’m putting in?
- What’s your assessment of my relationship with the team?
- Do you believe we have a strong working relationship?
Based on your manager’s responses, you can communicate your feelings more effectively. Although there is some risk involved, speaking up is far better than silently enduring unhappiness and operating at reduced capacity.
Enhancing Workplace Engagement
Organizations rely on having an engaged workforce, and this resource is fragile. Engagement can deteriorate due to various factors, including avoidable and minor frustrations. A survey of IT workers in 2022 found that a staggering 84% reported unhappiness due to the software they were using, highlighting how seemingly insignificant issues can erode morale and engagement, leading to burnout and employees quitting quietly or otherwise.
Dominic Ashley-Timms, CEO of management performance consultancy Notion, believes that improving engagement starts with managers asking better quality questions at the right times. Managers who understand the impact they have on their staff are better equipped to maintain employee engagement.
This perspective aligns with the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work, a collective of over 40 global employers, advocating for managers to enhance their social and interpersonal skills to make employees feel more valued. Increased engagement translates into higher workplace productivity and a reduced inclination towards quiet quitting.
In conclusion, “quiet quitting” is a response to the strain of modern work culture, where excessive demands can lead to burnout and disengagement. By initiating open and honest conversations with managers, employees can set healthier boundaries and seek solutions that improve their work-life balance. Simultaneously, managers must play their part by asking better quality questions and developing their interpersonal skills to foster a more engaged workforce. Addressing “quiet quitting” is a mutual responsibility that can lead to a more productive and satisfying work environment for all.