Quiet quitting: Why employees are saying “No” to hustle culture

November 29th, 2022
HireVue Team

Quiet quitting. Is it a silent protest to how we work or a defiance to working hard? 

That’s the million-dollar question that’s recently taken the internet by storm.

Popularized by TikTok star Zaid Khan, “quiet quitting” describes over 50% of workers who have said enough to the glorified grind-until-you-make-it culture and are setting new boundaries around work expectations.

Despite the term referencing the act of leaving, “quiet quitters” aren’t actually quitting their jobs. They’re quitting the long-standing notion that in order to be valued, you must go above and beyond your job description.

Just like the Great Resignation, quiet quitting is another response to workplace burnout, brought on by unrealistic work expectations like:

  • Added work outside the scope of the job description
  • Blurred boundaries around meetings or emails outside of regular work hours
  • Unreasonable deadlines
  • Work-life imbalance

The not-so-quiet debate on quiet quitting

Maybe it’s the word “quitting.” Or maybe it’s the idea that many employees are saying “no” to more than they used to. Either way, the term has sparked some major debate.

One camp argues that this silent resistance to extra work shouldn’t even be a thing. Why are we classifying employees who fully meet the expectations of their role as “quitting?” If they’re doing what they were hired to do, shouldn’t that be enough?

Another is concerned that “quiet quitting” is a mark of passivity and complacency. If you want to quit, just quit, they say.

Instead of picking a side, maybe the better solution is to ask why it’s an issue at all. Because if there’s one glaring message, it’s that many people are simply worn out. More than half of people say they’re struggling…and this is something we shouldn’t ignore. Let’s take an introspective look at the role companies play in creating value for employees.

Lay out clear expectations, from the beginning

It’s called the new hire bait-and-switch, and it happens far too often. This is when hiring teams portray a job one way, just for new employees to accept the position and experience something quite different. 

Whether it’s intentional or simply poor communication, starting employees in a role that doesn’t align with the information they were given is a surefire way to dismantle any trust they may have had.

Employers, it’s your job to accurately describe the job role and workplace culture, from the beginning. Start by using realistic job previews in the interview process. These on-demand videos give candidates an inside look into the job requirements, office culture, employee well-being, and more — so no one is left surprised.

Show appreciation

Imagine walking into a room just to be ignored. It’s safe to assume that you would feel unappreciated, disappointed, and disengaged.

Now consider the employee who consistently does their job, yet never receives accolades. Or the job candidate who never heard back after spending hours on an application.

While the lack of employee and candidate appreciation spans career stages, one report shows junior-level workers are 30% less likely to feel valued and 41% less likely to feel supported by their manager.

The undervalued employee is nothing new. But today’s workers aren’t willing to “grin and bear it” anymore. While some are leaving, others are doing their jobs — but have zero motivation to give more. 

This should go without saying…but employers, celebrate, support, and encourage your employees. Beyond being the right thing to do, employees who feel valued are more likely to go the extra mile.

Here’s a great place to start:

  • Acknowledge their work and give positive feedback.
  • Pay them what they’re worth. Great compensation validates great work.
  • Encourage growth with internal mobility. This signals that you acknowledge employee potential. And according to one Gallup survey, when you invest in your employees, they are 2x as likely to stay.
  • Get to know them. Some employees don’t want to climb the corporate ladder — and that’s ok. But make sure they’re given the resources they want and need to feel purpose in their work.

Create an open-door culture

Only 7% of American employees say that great communication is part of their office culture. The other 93%? It’s indicative of communication barriers that have, for far too long, plagued the workforce.

The issue of poor communication and lack of transparency has recently created a big stir amongst employees. Yes, it’s likely always been an issue, but pandemic burnout has pushed employees to finally say “enough is enough.”

Leaders, your business success is riding on how you treat your employees. So make communication and transparency part of your company DNA.

This means championing an open door policy, where employees feel safe and comfortable voicing their needs or concerns. 

And for those employees who work remotely, your open door policy can be metaphorical…because we don’t need face-to-face contact to effectively communicate. Not convinced? Check your inbox.

This transparent culture can — and should — come into play even before employment. Let candidates get a taste of your office culture by providing quick, open communication within the hiring process. Try an always-on text recruiting software, which sends candidates automated invites, updates, and even answers their most pressing questions — at any time of the day.

Nurture a healthy work-life balance

We are in the middle of a wellness revolution. Employees are protecting and prioritizing their personal lives more than ever before. And it’s about time, especially since just last year 81% of employees say they felt at risk for burnout.

When it comes to building a workplace people want to be part of, creating a flexible culture is a great place to start. From flexible schedules to flexible locations, empower your employees to do their best work when and where they’re at their best.

Flexibility — where life and work seamlessly revolve around each other — should also be part of your hiring strategy. One solution is to allow your candidates to schedule their own interviews at times that work best for them. Then, offer on-demand interviews, where they choose the place and time they feel most comfortable showing up.

Help your people thrive

The issue is not how quiet quitters are setting boundaries. It’s why.

It’s time to acknowledge that the workplace has shifted and to create a people-first culture where employees love to work. This is what attracts, retains, and engages talent.

To make the changes you need, schedule a demo to see how HireVue’s talent experience platform can transform your hiring experience, from sourcing to hiring.