To Contain Your Workforce’s Silent Shutdown, Try These 4 Antidotes
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and other senior executives have been scrambling to keep the big quit at bay, overcome a lingering shortage of skilled talent in the job market, and navigate changing market conditions as they aim to build a more resilient workforce for the future. . Today, another workforce-related trend has surfaced that demands their immediate attention – “the silent shutdown”.
Silent Quit describes workers who do just enough to get by on the job without feeling inclined to go above and beyond their job description. And according to a recent Gallup survey, these employees represent at least 50% of the American workforce today.
Failure to recognize and address the problem of silent abandonment could lead to lower employee productivity and potentially higher turnover, which can negatively affect your ability to achieve your business goals at a time when reaching your goal has never been more important.
Stopping quietly is a deliberate disengagement
The silent abandonment has been described as a rejection of the longstanding “culture of hustle” in business, where professionals burn the candle at both ends so they can keep climbing the corporate ladder. The trend also shows that many workers today are adamant about drawing more distinct boundaries between “work” and “life” due to remote working.
Either way, stopping quietly is deliberate disengagement. For many workers, this is a strategic move to avoid burnout without having to quit their job or company, which they may still love despite their disenchantment. For others, it’s a way to get by and earn a stable salary until they decide they’re ready to change.
Either way, employees are hoping the incredibly tight labor market will motivate the company to keep them on board, even if they don’t step in like they used to. This theory has some merit, as most employers would rather not risk losing valuable talent right now. However, you also want your employees to work to their full potential and ideally stretch their abilities to help the business. You would also be reassured to know that your team members are happy with their work and have plenty of time to focus on their overall well-being.
So what’s the antidote to quitting quietly? More than likely, your organization will need to apply one or all of the following strategies to try to rehire workers you want to retain who are currently choosing to fly under the radar.
Increase the frequency of performance reviews
This is to keep the door open for ongoing dialogue. It’s an opportunity for managers to discuss ongoing projects and obstacles with workers and hear from them about the support and resources they need to succeed. Managers can also use these meetings to directly express their appreciation to hard-working employees who they now realize feel burned out.
One of the results of these meetings should be a roadmap with clear instructions to help get an employee back on a positive path. Managers should encourage employees to communicate the type of work they find meaningful or would like to try, to determine if and how this can be incorporated into the roadmap and possibly their job description.
Employees should also leave these exams understanding the potential risks of not expanding their capabilities, including limiting their own potential and stifling their career advancement.
Budget for financial incentives that motivate better performance
Giving a raise to a highly skilled and talented employee who is intentionally working below their potential strength encourage them to improve their performance, but it is a risky prospect with no guaranteed return on investment. It can also send the wrong message to your employees who are work hard to exceed expectations and earn recognition. Even if you don’t advertise them or practice pay transparency in your organization, news about raises can spread quickly, including in a remote or hybrid work environment.
If you’re convinced that financial rewards can inspire quiet quitters to step up, try using strategic measures such as one-time or retention bonuses. These incentives demonstrate, without exaggerating, that the company still believes in an employee’s potential and values their contribution. So, as your organization plans budgets for the coming year, consider setting aside funds for these types of “motivational tools,” in addition to other strategic investments in human capital.
Promote learning and leadership opportunities
Boredom can lead to disengagement. So does the sense of routine that comes from doing the same job, day after day. Remote work, for all the benefits it can provide, can exacerbate these feelings if workers have few opportunities for a change of scenery throughout the normal work week.
That’s why it’s essential for employers to provide workers with plenty of opportunities to learn new skills, expand their knowledge and collaborate with different colleagues and teams. Providing the opportunity to innovate, launch new ideas, and take the lead in meaningful projects are all strategies that can help turn silent quitters into active contributors to the organization.
Highlight the benefits of taking time off work – the right way
An employee who works within the parameters of their job description is not doing anything “wrong”. But it is not a positive situation for the worker if he does not want to continue to grow or improve, or for the company which wants every employee to excel. If an employee makes a conscious decision to provide only the minimum each work day, it may signal a deeper problem.
For example, many workers use silent quitting as a defense mechanism to help prevent burnout. And it’s all too easy for employees to retreat into silent surrender mode if they feel they can never take the time they need to truly disconnect from their work – and are constantly working from long hours.
Actively encourage employees to take full advantage of their vacation days. Likewise, emphasize the importance of employees working with their managers to create flexible work arrangements that can help them find more balance on a day-to-day basis.
It is important that CFOs and other senior managers strive to set a positive example for the workforce and foster a corporate culture that prioritizes employee well-being. Be sure to manage your own time effectively and support and model work-life balance. After all, no company can succeed if its leaders become silent quitters – or simply burn out.