If you haven’t heard, the latest buzzword in the world of work is “quiet quitting.” Once that one emerged on TicTok, we started to see “quiet firing” being talked about as well.

In case you don’t know:

Quiet quitting is doing the bare minimum in your job while looking for another.

Quiet firing is not giving the employee attention, feedback, raises, etc in hopes that they’ll quit.

Neither of these things is new, as I’ve heard stories of both throughout my career. It’s just that someone gave them a catchy label, and now everyone is talking about them.

Both quiet quitting and quiet firing happen because of the anxiety associated with an honest conversation. So, instead, people take on a mindset to control this anxiety.

For example, an employee might start blaming their boss for what’s upsetting them. Through this blame, they don’t feel a need to take responsibility for having a conversation because they see it as something that’s being done to them.

In other words, they spin a story through the lens of blame that justifies their passive-aggressive behaviour.

The same is true for the boss as well.

Neither situation is a good one, and neither will result in a good outcome.

Having said all this, the question becomes who owns responsibility for changing this reality?

Both.

From an employee’s point of view, they deserve expectations that align with what the company hired them to do.

Good people get burned out when the expectation is that they’re going above and beyond all the time. In other words, if they were hired to perform 40 hours of work per week, then they shouldn’t be in some way penalized for only working 40 hours per week.

However, passive-aggressive moves, like quiet quitting, are never a good idea. They will harm your relationships, reputation, and the opportunity to fix what’s causing you a problem.

From the employer’s point of view, I’ve seen articles that blame the employee for the situation.

What I know is that if your people are quiet quitting, then blaming or criticizing them for doing so won’t solve the problem.

Quiet quitting is a sign of a problem you may be in denial about.

You may find that you’re expecting people to solve your financial problems by giving up their personal time, so you don’t have to hire more people.

You may find a lack of trust and safety leaving people feeling they can’t be honest about how they’re doing.

You may be in denial about the truth of what’s happening around you.

Quiet quitting is a sign of something that you may want to pay attention to.

Otherwise, you may just find more people joining the ranks of those who are quiet quitting.

You’ve got this.

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