Benchmark Business Group

Are You Concerned About Quiet Quitting?

September 27, 2022

Quiet Quitting – When employees stop working extra hours, volunteering for additional duties and going “above and beyond” but instead start doing exactly what their job description calls for, and nothing more. This term has recently gone viral, and our clients have started asking more questions about it.

Quiet quitting isn’t new, it’s just in the spotlight right now. If you’ve worked with one of our BBG Business Coaches, you won’t be surprised to find out we have a different outlook on this trend, and that is… good for those employees.

Now that might not be the reaction you were expecting, but quiet quitting isn’t about an employee not doing their job, it’s simply about them doing their job and not a lot of “extras.” Before we jump into how to handle quiet quitting, let’s first look at it in relation to small business.

Small businesses are different than large corporations in that many employees wear multiple hats. In large corporations there’s enough work that a job position can be specific and have a narrow focus. But in smaller businesses the amount of work for certain positions isn’t enough to justify a full-time person.

We want to make it clear that quiet quitting isn’t about someone refusing to fill multiple roles, because again, in small businesses this is common and necessary based on the diversity of work to be done. However, a common problem in small businesses is that the undertaking of different tasks is often done without a lot of strategy. For instance, one employee likes to do certain tasks, or they have the skillset to get the job done so it’s added to their job description. Or an employee quits and someone else starts to fill their duties which are not then transferred back when a new hire is made. Then the business grows, and the amount of work starts to outgrow the capacity of one person. It’s easy to see where quiet quitting comes from which is simply… lack of strategy and structure.

If your business has the right strategies and structures in place, it doesn’t matter if your employees do exactly what their job description outlines, because that’s exactly what you need them to do. As we stated, good for the employee. They’re doing their job and meeting the standards. This means that they’re good at their job. Where it becomes an issue is when you don’t have good job descriptions or communication about what the job entails.

To prevent quiet quitting from being an issue, consider these 3 insights:

  • Keep job descriptions up to date. Small businesses evolve, sometimes rapidly, which means it’s easy to lose sight of who does what. Your job descriptions – or what we like to call position zoom charts – should be kept up to date. As duties are added, taken away or even temporarily assigned, the job descriptions should be updated. This ensures that there is constant communication about what the job is and what it means. It also creates the conversation to allow an employee to tell you if they have too much on their plate. Quiet quitting is a passive aggressive tactic that can often be solved by ensuring the business always communicates what the job is, what the expectations are and gains the employee’s agreement to do that job.
  • Implement UpsideDown Meetings. Too often, employees don’t have ownership of their roles. They don’t have the time and space with their manager to discuss capacity, workload and if they are meeting the standards of work expectations. UpsideDown Meetings are where the employee holds a meeting with their manager to share any issues they may be facing, gives progress updates on projects, celebrates achievements and lets the manager know what they need to be successful. The meetings are called UpsideDown because the typical format and energy of the meeting is flipped upside down. It’s the employee’s meeting, and they run it. This creates the time and space to address issues, identify opportunities and ensure that the employee is progressing in their role.
  • Have metrics to know when it’s time to hire. Sometimes quiet quitting is triggered because an employee is simply doing too much. Sometimes it’s because they don’t want to do the job. The question the company needs to answer before addressing this issue is, “what’s the capacity for this role?” Without understanding the capacity for the role it’s difficult to know if the company is asking too much or if the employee is not fulfilling their role. Developing these metrics will allow the business to understand when they need to hire, when they are asking too much of an employee and even when a raise or promotion might be due. The important factor is to be proactive. Quiet quitting happens when an employee feels they don’t have other options. It’s a reaction. Instead, as a company you should be proactively watching the metrics to know if it’s time to separate a position or to hire another person within that position. By seeing the issue and actively addressing it head on you’ll eliminate the need for quiet quitting.

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