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How Finance Leaders Can Help Combat "Quiet Quitting"

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If you've been reading the news lately, you've probably heard a lot about "quiet quitting.". If you have a team to manage, it may have even got you worried. And for finance leaders--looking to lead their organisations through the current market strife--it might be something making you feel anxious

After all, the media has run rampant with news of quiet quitting. While the so-called phenomenon has been making headlines, though, what do finance leaders really need to know about it?  Should you be concerned? And if so, how do you begin to combat this new trend?

Let's dive in and see.

Key Takeaways: 

  • A new trend that's making headlines, quiet quitting refers to employees who put in the minimum amount of effort in their jobs, without putting in any extra work or time.
  • While critics debate whether quiet quitting is actually a new thing, a lack of employee engagement is always a challenge for finance leaders and one they should be ready to work on.
  • By considering what your employees need to be happy and respecting the boundaries they put in place, you can help build engagement within your finance team.

What Is Quiet Quitting?

Gallup defines quiet quitters as those who do the minimum amount of work and are "psychologically detached from their job." Quiet quitters aren't actually quitting--they're still doing their jobs, just not taking on any additional duties or putting in extra time.

For some managers, this has posed a problem. They want employees that go the extra mile, so what do they do when their employees don't? Do they try to replace these quiet quitters with new recruits who will bring more enthusiasm to the role? Given the recent Great Resignation, though, the right skill sets may not be available. 

Other leaders, on the other hand, are asking another question instead. What can they do to help combat quiet quitting and re-engage these workers to help them rebuild enthusiasm for their roles? 

Then there's the question of whether "quiet quitting" is even actually a thing. 

How Serious Is Quiet Quitting?

According to a 2022 Gallup survey, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce. For them, it was a process of elimination: the same survey found that 32% of workers were actively engaged in their jobs and that 18% were disengaged. It's the remaining 50% that make up the quiet quitters.

But critics have unpacked those numbers a little differently--questioning whether quiet quitting is a new trend or simply a normal dip in overall productivity and engagement that's been given a new name.

"Statistically speaking, quiet quitting is not actually a thing. Or, at least, it is not a new thing," The Atlantic wrote in September 2022. In fact, while employee engagement has declined slightly in 2022, over the long term, it's still up from similar Gallup survey results done between 2000 and 2014. 

And while productivity, overall, has declined compared to the early days of the pandemic, that may be due to another phenomenon completely. The Great Resignation saw many employees leaving their jobs to start new ones. And as any leader knows, there's always a learning curve when someone takes on a new position--meaning productivity naturally falters.

There's another possible reason for the so-called quiet quitting trend, though. Worker burnout, and employees who are putting up stronger boundaries between life and work as a result, might be at least one of the causes.

So, with that in mind, what can finance leaders do in response?

What Do Finance Leaders Need To Know? 

Whether it's the product of employee burnout, a lack of engagement or the learning curve that comes with a new role, finance leaders can address the quiet quitting trend in their own business simply by being more aware of their team members' needs. By knowing what your employees require to be happy and stay productive in their jobs, you're one step closer to engaging them more completely. 

Here are a few things to consider along the way:

  1. Employees setting work boundaries is a good thing. In today's remote and hybrid work environment, finding life-work balance is more difficult than ever--so for their own mental health, employees need to set firm boundaries. As a leader, you shouldn't just respect that--you should help them do it. And that means not expecting them to work evenings and weekends, as a rule, so that burnout becomes less of an issue.

  2. Paying your employees what they're worth is a great place to start. Unsatisfactory compensation or better pay elsewhere is still one of the top reasons employees leave their jobs. And if anyone understands the power of money, it's finance leaders. So if you want an employee to go the extra mile--or hope to keep them from leaving your team and moving elsewhere--pay them fairly. It probably won't make up for a toxic work culture or unhealthy work-life boundaries, but when all other things are equal it can be a good incentive to keep your team members from thinking about jumping ship.

  3. Recognition, growth opportunities and flexibility are things employees prioritise--meaning you should too. Keeping your employees happy is critical if you want them to stay enthusiastic in their jobs. And that means giving them what they need to succeed. A recent Deloitte survey showed that three of the top things finance folks are looking for in their work life are recognition for a job well done, clear opportunities for career growth and flexibility to work remotely or hybrid. If you don't consider those things and make them important as well, then don't be surprised if your team members disengage. After all, why should they be enthusiastic about working for a business that makes no effort to consider their needs?

Finally, the ability to do "meaningful work" was another thing the Deloitte survey found employees are seeking. As a finance leader, you know what you do is meaningful to the organisation as a whole--so why not let your employees be part of that and connect them to the bigger contributions you bring?

Keeping Your Team Engaged 

Whether quiet quitting is actually a new trend or, as The Atlantic article put it, "about as novel as cubicles, lunch breaks, and bleary-eyed colleagues stopping by your workstation to mutter, "Mondays, amirite?," employee engagement is something every finance leader should be contemplating. After all, keeping your employees engaged in their jobs will help you do better as a team--collaborating more effectively, communicating more and producing better results. 

All of which isn't just a plus for you and your team. It's also going to have larger benefits for your business as a whole.

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