The term “quiet quitting” has surged through the labor market recently, attempting to highlight how employees feel about their work. The phrase has a strange connotation of quietly quitting as in refusing to work. But all quiet quitting means is an employee doing the minimum of what’s expected of them in their job role. People are doing their jobs, but they’re not as psychologically invested as their managers or coworkers might want them to be.
However, Gallup finds that quiet quitting is less of an employee problem and more of a manager problem. Gallup’s June 2022 research concludes that at least 50% of the US workforce is quiet quitting, with 18% of employees reporting that they feel actively disengaged at work. The underlying cause is a “growing disconnect between employees and their employers.”
Our own research at RallyBright affirms the importance of strong manager-employee relationships as protection against attrition. In our recent Inclusive Collaboration at Work study, we found a highly significant correlation between how satisfied employees are with their manager relationship and how included they feel at work. We also found that this feeling of being included, or belonging, is the single biggest predictor of turnover intention.
Managers aren’t doing enough to understand their employees on a meaningful level, helping them feel like they belong at work. So what can managers do to prevent quiet quitting? And what can employers change in the workplace to repair this disconnect between them and their employees? Let’s dig into these questions, as well as solutions to these challenges in the workforce today.
Center Your Teams Instead of Focusing on Individual Performance
As leaders, we all know the importance of employee performance and engagement. There are many tools out there designed to help measure and improve employee performance in the workplace. Many of us also turn to standard performance reviews as a way to distill feedback to our employees: offering praise and constructive criticism to encourage growth. However, there’s data that suggests this standardization may be doing more harm than good.
Harvard Business Review explains the idea of designing work that people love. Everyone who comes to work – whether a CEO, manager or individual contributor – is an individual with their own loves and loathings. These unique loves and loathings influence how we all work at work, meaning not every employee behaves and improves in the same ways.
As such, it’s critical for managers to personalize their approach with their employees, and then take this a step further by successfully aligning the employees on their teams. By centering great teamwork as the ultimate goal, you’ll begin to unlock your team’s full potential, growing a resilient team that thrives through disruption.
Great Teamwork Creates Resilient Teams That Thrive Through Disruption
When employees leave a job, they’re not necessarily quitting the company itself. As the oft-quoted business adage goes, “people leave managers, not companies.” But with teamwork so integral a part of how people work today, it’s perhaps more accurate to say that employers choose to leave their teams, too. In order to prevent this, employees need to feel that they belong with and on their teams. They need to feel included.
Inclusive teams – those that successfully foster psychological safety and recognize and value each members’ contributions – are resilient teams that can thrive through disruption. In order to create inclusive, resilient teams, each team member needs to feel that they belong. Belonging is important because it drives resilience, which also improves individual and team performance. SHRM, a RallyBright customer, cites how organizations that prioritize diversity, inclusion and belonging see real results with an increase in profits and employee retention. With outcomes like these, it’s worth assessing whether or not you’re taking the right steps to foster an inclusive culture in your organization.
By also giving your employees a safe space to feel heard and understood, you’re providing them with psychological safety. When employees feel psychologically safe at work, they’re more likely to feel motivated to put their best foot forward. The magic comes when everyone on a team feels included and psychologically safe at work. This activates the group’s shared sense of belonging together, giving them the resilience they need to work through setbacks and learn from their mistakes. This great teamwork helps prevent employees from quietly quitting their managers and their teams.
Five Steps for Building Resilient Teams That Can Survive Anything
Now that we understand the importance of resilient teams, how can we build them? How can we ensure that our individual employees feel empowered as part of a great team? Here are five steps you can take as a leader to shore up your team’s resilience.
1. Focus on shared purpose and clearly communicate with the team.
When your teams know exactly what’s expected of them, they’re clearer on how to spend their time at work. After all, it’s also harder for employees to quietly quit when leaders are clear about what the team needs to accomplish.
Rally your teams around their shared purpose and objectives – and how these objectives relate to the organization as a whole. Communicate clearly with your employees about how they contribute to the company’s larger goals. By aligning your teams around this shared purpose, you’ll solve any ambiguity your employees may have about their jobs. They’ll be better equipped to work together toward their purpose.
2. Identify common goals as shared objectives.
After aligning on and communicating your team’s shared purpose, give clarity on common goals to reach for. Whether it’s improving sales results for the next quarter, or fixing specific technical issues with your product, be sure to identify your most important objectives. Center your conversations on how the team can achieve these goals by specific deadlines.
Also be clear on why the team needs to complete these objectives. What’s the payoff? What will these goals improve for the team or the organization? Continue aligning your teams around their shared purpose with their shared objectives. Once everyone understands their role, they can better focus on achieving the goals they’ve set together as a team.
3. Give teammates a psychologically safe space to help them feel a sense of belonging.
Companies that provide psychological safety to their employees are foundational to resilient teams. Your employees need a space where their voices and their contributions matter. When you value employee feedback and you give your employees space to be human and make mistakes, this helps everyone feel that they belong.
Listen to your team’s concerns and integrate common feedback into actionable changes for the company. Prevent employee burnout by welcoming time off or no meeting days – instead of viewing these benefits as obstacles to performance. Consider re-skilling managers to become better player coaches to avoid problems with poor management. Leaders can optimize their teams by coaching team members with the patience and understanding they need. Better teamwork and business results follow when employees feel that their leaders appreciate them as human beings.
4. Create an inclusive environment and be aware of any problem signals.
Resilient organizations are inclusive organizations. By creating an inclusive environment at work, you’re signaling to your employees that you value each of them as an individual. The differences on your teams help ensure you don’t get stuck with the same point of view. Diversity of thought is what inspires fresh, innovative ideas that push organizations forward.
If you’re concerned about signs of problems, get ahead of them before they become real issues. Maybe you’re worried about underperformers on your teams and you’re not sure how to get them on board. Or maybe you’ve seen the signs that multiple teammates are looking for work elsewhere.
One way to get through to people who may be struggling is to center the conversation on the team – instead of focusing on individual feedback and performance. As with the previous tip on psychological safety, give them a safe space to talk about what would make teamwork better for them. This creates the right environment to help you get the results you need.
5. Focus on results and impact when reaching your team’s goals.
With the recent shift to hybrid work, managers these days are hyper-focused on productivity. Some research shows there’s now a “productivity paranoia” contributing to increased employee burnout, which may be encouraging quiet quitting and high turnover. Instead of focusing on activity as the best measure of productivity, many leaders would do better to focus on results. If your teams meet their goals and achieve the impact you want, then they are naturally productive.
Resilient teams achieve their goals despite disruption. Once you build your own resilient teams, you’ll find that they are as productive as you need them to be, reaching goals and completing shared objectives. As your teams continue meeting goals through shared setbacks and conflict, you’ll find that they can achieve just about anything.
Quiet quitting is just one more wave of disruption in the modern, constantly-disrupted workplace. But it holds lessons for leaders who are willing to listen. When employees feel that their managers aren’t committed to them, it’s difficult for them to commit to their work. In the past, this commitment has often been a transactional one-way street. It’s important for leaders to recognize this shift and adapt to the expectations of today’s workforce.
The best way to address this shift is by centering teamwork as the antidote to workplace disruption and quiet quitting. Align your employees around their shared belonging with their teams. Improve team performance by ensuring your organization is inclusive and psychologically safe. By centering the teams in your company, you’ll help your employees unlock their best, committed selves at work. Optimizing your teams for resilience optimizes your company’s results, helping you achieve the impossible through any unforeseen distractions or setbacks.
The RallyBright platform helps leaders build collaborative and inclusive teams that deliver superior business impact. Request a demo and we’ll show you how RallyBright can start empowering your organization in just 10 days.