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Has it come for you yet? You can hear it lurking, softly breathing around the corner. Your friends warned you; your colleagues shared their campfire stories. You heard it’s been taking down businesses. One. By. One. And it might already exist inside your walls, waiting...

While it may be the newest, most insidious thing to hit the workforce since COVID (and perhaps it’s partly a symptom of the pandemic and of the Great Resignation), “quiet quitting” has been anything but a quiet phenomenon. 

The term has recently made the rounds in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, MarketWatch, NPR

In case you don’t know, quiet quitting is when employees consciously decide to do the bare minimum in order to keep their jobs and a paycheck. But the term has also launched a thousand debates — is quiet quitting simply employees doing the work they signed up for, and no more? Or does it describe a pervasive culture of laziness that will, one day, take down your business?

The answer: Yes.

We all know what the labor force looked like coming out of the pandemic. It was a mess and, in some ways, still is. Businesses continue to struggle to fill positions even as job numbers skyrocket. The skills gap, according to many employers, is to blame for shortages, and the more skilled the worker, the more dangerous quiet quitting is for your business.

Whether justified or not, quiet quitting really comes down to motivation. First, consider the generation you’re dealing with.  Millennials and Gen Zers  have been largely blamed for paring back at work if other desires aren’t met. Take, for instance, an Axios piece written by a young professional,

Erica Pandey. In it, Pandey offers three takeaways: 1. “Time to ditch the grind for grind’s sake. Younger workers want more from life — and that’s a good thing! A balanced life ought to have time for hobbies, relationships and relaxation as well as work...”

2. “Give us something to believe in. Yes, not every job can be glamorous from the get-go, but every company’s mission and purpose can be.

“If the leadership doesn’t live and breathe the mission — it shows. Hook us on your vision, and you’ll get the best work out of us...”

3. “We’re lifelong learners. We grew up amid lightning-fast technological change, and we’ve seen jobs transform in front of our eyes. We’re innately aware of how important learning on the job is — and we’re not afraid to change up how things are done.

“Leaders who harness this generation’s willingness to learn new things every day will tap into a hugely productive, talented and resilient workforce.”

And consider your expectations. Do you allow for remote work? Are employees expected to be available during certain hours? Do they have the freedom to mix in activities they enjoy throughout the day if they’re still meeting deadlines and quotas? If they are required to be at their computer, why? Would they be more productive earlier in the day or later in the evening? Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado’s Jonathan Liebert wrote a column about this topic for the Business Journal in April titled “Try work-life integration instead.”

And most of these questions can apply to in-person work as well.  

A recent Inc. piece titled “Remote Workers Are Wasting More Than an Hour a Day on Productivity Theater, New Report Finds,” stated, “Drawing on surveys of 2,000 knowledge workers in the U.S. and U.K., the two companies’ new ‘Killing Time at Work’ report finds that online workers are behaving too much like cubicle warriors of decades past.

“In practice, that looks like remote workers joining Zoom meetings they know will be worthless, responding to emails at strategically selected hours, or other forms of being ostentatiously online to convince colleagues they’re working long and hard enough. This kind of digital presenteeism eats up a full 67 minutes of the average remote worker’s day, the research found. 

However you decide to address quiet quitting, business owners and managers would be wise to audit their expectations and why they are the way they are. It’s still an employee’s market; the workforce has options. Are you able to keep your top talent happy while still meeting the goals? Or is your business just another place to kill time and collect a paycheck?