Quiet Quitting: a new term to confirm a Need for Kind LeadersFrancesco Bruno
Since the second half of August, the term “Quiet Quitting” has been experiencing a not inconsiderable surge in Google Trends searches, to the point of becoming the phenomenon of the moment because of social media. It turns out to be important to shed light on this issue, not least because, to be fair, it is a new name for an old collective behavior that cries out for help at the top of organizations.
The act of “quitting without quitting” refers to a trend attached to the redefinition of the personal approach to the work sphere, expressly implying a willingness to work just enough without ever doing more than is necessary.
The term, now increasingly used as a caption for numerous social media videos, especially TikTok, summarizes a collective refusal to put work at the center of one’s life and, therefore, a willingness to redefine time toward other, leisure-related activities in order to satisfy personal needs or desires.
Data in hand
According to some researchers, the spread of this attitude among people is, in part, a consequence of reflections fostered by the pandemi, about the meaning of work and a range of existential issues. The combination of these conditions would have led to a widespread lack of motivation and enthusiasm, and ultimately to reduced engagement at work.
According to the report developed by Gallup, a data analysis and consulting firm, in Italy only 4% of workers say they are fully engaged or enthusiastic about their work-this is the lowest percentage among those in all 38 European countries covered by the research. And the overall satisfaction rate in Europe is 14 percent: the lowest among those in all 10 areas of the world considered.
Even in the United States, where the level of satisfaction is generally higher than in other areas, there is still a marked generational imbalance: in fact, about 54 percent of those born after 1989 report that they do not feel taken by their jobs.
Data analyzed by Harvard Business Review, however, digs even deeper into this situation. Taking managerial figures into consideration, the data indicate that quiet quitting is less about employees’ willingness to work harder and more creatively than it is about managers’ lack of ability to build trust with their employees.
Many people, at some point in their careers, have worked for a manager who urged them to quietly quit their jobs, having experienced the feeling of feeling undervalued and unappreciated. It follows that quiet quitting can, in this sense, also be understood as a reaction to leadership not being well exercised..
A multi-generational phenomenon
Generation Z seems to be promoters of quiet quitting, in that money, for them, may not be the most important aspect or that, at the very least, would not be comparable to having more time to devote to themselves.
Reporting on the words of Jingfang Cai L., vice president for talent development at Linkedin, it says, “This young category of workers demands that employers take care of them as people as a whole. And the ability to understand their career path is worth more than a paycheck.”
In essence, we are moving further and further away from the American myth of hustle culture, that is, of devoting one’s entire life to work in order to “always do and achieve more.”
More interestingly, Generation Z does not seem to be the only one who thinks this way. The “zoomers” have simply been championing a discontent that in fact had already been widespread for years among workers of all ages and that until now had been hiding behind other major phenomena such as Great Resignation, Burnout or Technostress and leading to viewing work with cynicism and apathy.
Trust: a word that can weigh as much as a workplace
Wanting to take up the analysis done by Harvard Business Review, the most important factor is trust. After analyzing data from more than 113,000 managers to identify the main behavior that helps effective leaders balance results with concern for team members, the number one factor was trust. When direct employees trust their leader, they also think the manager cares about them and is concerned about their well-being.
The research linked trust to three behaviors:
- One, which is having positive relationships with all one’s co-workers, listening to them sincerely;
- The second element is consistency, that is, keeping what is promised;
- The third and last is competence. Know your job well and be clear and aware of what you do and what you delegate, communicating clearly.
Building a relationship of trust with all employees greatly reduces the occurrence of problems, including the one discussed in this article.
It is easy to blame lazy or unmotivated workers, but this research suggests we look inward and recognize that people wan to give their energy, creativity, time and enthusiasm to organizations and leaders who deserve it.
In conclusion, one key to understanding quiet quitting may be a call for awareness on the part of those with corporate responsibilities to redefine work under a more ethical guise. In essence, now more than ever, there is a need to internalize and enact sincere kind leadership.