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Quiet quitting is gaining attention lately as a workplace strategy for some employees and a challenge for some organizations. Quiet quitting is demonstrated by employees who show up to work with the purpose of doing no more than what’s required to stay employed.
For some people, it’s a strategy for creating work-life balance and avoiding burnout. For others, it’s a solution to the financial challenges of poor compensation.
How Organizations Can Cause Burnout
While it is certainly possible to be in a workplace that simply asks its employees to work too hard or too much, I believe most burnout is caused by the emotional challenges that come from organizations that focus on outcomes but don’t put the effort into effective execution that’s necessary to prevent unnecessary breakdowns. These breakdowns begin with poor communication and poor information-sharing but also include poor coordination, changes without notice and poor decision-making.
These issues can cause employees to have to work harder and work later or on weekends to make up for the ineffectiveness of the organization’s poor execution. There is nothing more frustrating than having to work super hard to be successful only to fight unnecessary obstacles that cause you to fail—and then be blamed for that failure. Management fails their employees when they hold their teams accountable for meeting a deadline, but instead of supporting their teams to achieve that result, become obstacles to success by not sharing information necessary to move forward, not making a decision that is preventing further action or adding new priorities or requests that add even more pressure to employees.
How Employees Can Cause Burnout
While quiet quitting is a response to ineffective execution, teamwork or change implementation caused by the organization, employees must take responsibility for their own burnout as well. While employees can leave the organization to go home after work, they can’t leave themselves, which means any negative mindset or poor attitude goes home with them.
One of my mentors once told me, “When you do anything 100%, it’s a breeze, but when you do anything 95%, it’s a struggle.” When we give something our all, we are so invested and involved that time goes by effortlessly. Just think about your favorite hobby. You likely feel rejuvenated and satisfied after participating, rather than burned out. Even when a hobby requires learning, practice or effort, it still feels fun because you’re fully invested.
The challenge is that when we only put 95% or less effort or focus into what we are doing, we experience self-doubt and mental distraction so that our energy gets split. I believe it’s that mental consternation that causes more stress than anything. And if we are worried about being fired, worried about letting our family or team members down or constantly thinking we might be better off doing something else, there is even more stress.
The Greatest Cost Of Quiet Quitting To Employees
Quiet quitting is a solution to an imbalance in priorities in which employees let their personal life fall to the wayside for the benefit of their job. It might seem like a good solution, but there is a major error in this approach because when you take a job, you are committing to perform and achieve desired outcomes. When you put in the least amount of effort to “get by,” I believe you are sacrificing your integrity by not honoring your commitment. This creates a new habit of “not showing up” when the going gets tough… both at work and also in your personal life.
When you put minimal effort into what you’re doing, you are teaching yourself that you don’t have what it takes to fully engage with life’s circumstances, which can lead to a lack of confidence and self-trust.
Creating Work-Life Balance Without Quiet Quitting
When my daughter was seven or eight years old, she taught me a great lesson in time management and work-life balance. She asked me to stop spending so much time on the phone when I was with her, as it was supposed to be father-daughter time. Not only was splitting my time between my daughter and taking phone calls annoying to my daughter, but it was also very stressful to me.
I made a deal with my daughter that we would have two to three hours of uninterrupted time, and then I would make phone calls for an hour or so, but when complete, she would again get my full attention. I dedicated 100% to her, then 100% to my calls. Stress-free with no mental consternation or worry.
Five Steps Leaders Can Use To Help Prevent Quiet Quitting
1. Instead of using an activity-focused job description as a basis for hiring, leaders must be clear about expected outcomes and behaviors necessary to fulfill the role and position being hired.
2. Develop a customer service focus that links all outcomes of one’s role to the success of the internal or external customer, and be clear about the costs of not providing high-quality and timely performance.
3. Build a culture of teamwork that sets expectations and agreements for how team members will support each other’s success during normal and challenging times so that peer accountability and assessment for team effectiveness are cultivated.
4. Continually reinforce any employee who demonstrates commitment to the organization, the culture and their customers so that people feel valued and rewarded for being a part of the organization in a full way.
5. Provide workshops that are self-growth-oriented so that people learn the benefits and costs of their behaviors, attitudes and choices for taking greater ownership of their lives.
Quiet quitting doesn’t serve anyone, even the person who thinks they are creating work-life balance through not going above and beyond on the job. We all have to be part of healing burnout-related mindsets, attitudes and behaviors to create an inspired, dedicated and supportive environment where people thrive at work and thrive in their personal lives at the same time.
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This article was first published as a Forbes Coaches Council Post.