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Posted 11th March 2024

How Small Business Owners Can Prevent Quiet Quitting in Their Teams

“Quiet quitting” has become something of a buzzword in recent years, following a 2022 Tik Tok which defined quiet quitting as: “not outright quitting your job, your you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond”.

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how small business owners can prevent quiet quitting in their teams.


How Small Business Owners Can Prevent Quiet Quitting in Their Teams
Quiet Quitting

“Quiet quitting” has become something of a buzzword in recent years, following a 2022 Tik Tok which defined quiet quitting as: “not outright quitting your job, your you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond”. 

Of course, employees coasting at work is nothing new. In fact 59% of 122,416 of global workers in a report said that they’re not engaged at work

There’s no denying that disengaged employees are a problem when it comes to the survival of your small business.

You cannot afford to employ team members not actively interested in the organisation’s success. So, you need to find a way to motivate employees and make sure they are both mentally and physically checked in on company time. 

This article will explore what quiet quitting is, why it happens, and what small businesses can do to prevent quiet quitting in their teams. 

What is quiet quitting? 

Put simply, quiet quitting is a form of employee disengagement. While the employee is not necessarily disruptive – they still fulfill basic job responsibilities – they avoid any extra effort beyond the bare minimum required of them. Some see this as a silent form of non-compliance, while others interpret it as a rebellion against late-stage capitalism and uneven work-life balance. 

Signs of quiet quitting

How do you know when an employee is quiet quitting? 

You may notice one or more employees becoming less productive. They may contribute less to team projects, participate less in meetings, and stop volunteering and taking initiative. While not directly confrontational, quiet quitters may become distant or use avoidance techniques. Look out for workers showing up late, leaving early, or not attending meetings at all. 

While you can navigate attendance challenges to ensure everyone is where they’re supposed to be, it is more difficult to control their engagement while there. You need to dig deeper and find the cause of the disconnect between management and employees. 

Why do employees quiet quit?

Compensation issues 

Employees do the work they are paid for. Increasingly, modern businesses cannot expect maximum effort in exchange for minimum wage. This doesn’t always have to mean pay raises – you can also offer perks, benefits, and opportunities for growth. 

Unclear boundaries

Out-of-hours emails and phone calls, refused time-off requests, unnecessary mandatory meetings… there are lots of ways managers can overstep and disrespect the work/life balance of their employees. Clear boundaries are needed. 

Excess workload 

Sometimes your ‘superstar worker’ is in fact a burnt-out employee picking up the slack for two or three other team members. Regularly expecting an employee to take on a workload beyond their description leads to them feeling misled and exploited – especially if expectations are unclear or constantly shifting. 

Consider outsourcing certain tasks or logistics to specialized third-party logistics companies. This can help alleviate the burden on your team members, allowing them to focus on core responsibilities and prevent burnout.

Unsupportive management

No one wants to work for a tyrant: employees will be much more likely to try their hardest with a supportive manager who notices and celebrates their efforts. 

Similarly, while tools such as time management, project management and IT reports, can help management support their staff and spot inefficiencies, if they are misused, they can often reduce the feeling of trust, which can be extremely demotivating for workers. 

Lack of remote opportunities

The traditional office setup is not the only viable option: many are discovering the benefits of remote or hybrid teams. Denying workers any flexibility and insisting on in-person shifts every day can lead frustrated team members to seek alternative employment. 

6 ways small businesses can prevent quiet quitting

1. Have an open and honest conversation about quiet quitting

Start a dialogue to find out what is causing employee withdrawal and what can be done. Try not to frame this as a punishment, but an opportunity to be heard. A little empathy goes a long way. 

It’s best to foster a proactive incident management culture. This means understanding that mistakes happen and safeguarding against them, rather than allowing blame and shame to fester. 

2. Pay workers fairly 

Be proactive about giving raises to employees earning less than their peers  or who have taken on additional responsibilities. When paying employees, you may also want to use a positive pay system to ensure security for your small business. 

By verifying each outgoing payment against a predetermined list of authorised transactions, you can mitigate the threat of fraudulent activity and ensure that your employees’ wages are securely processed. This not only instils confidence among your workforce but also demonstrates your commitment to maintaining a transparent and trustworthy payment system.

3. Be upfront about the role and workload 

It’s natural for roles to expand over time, and for the workload to fluctuate. However, you need to be transparent from the start. 

Let candidates know exactly what will be expected of them. Outline how the role may develop so there are no surprises. Then, they can make a judgement on whether the pay matches the work expected of them – it is sort of like a reciprocal agreement.

4. Enforce boundaries

Employees may not resort to quiet quitting if their boundaries and work-life balance are already being protected. You could set clear expectations, such as emphasising that after-hours calls or emails are optional. Reward employees for their efforts, and intervene if coworkers pressure each other to overwork. 

Additionally, consider leveraging technology to alleviate burdensome tasks. For instance, you could automate data entry processes to reduce manual workload and allow employees to focus on more meaningful tasks.

5. Celebrate employee achievements

When an employee puts in extraordinary efforts, show that you notice and appreciate their contribution. Otherwise, workers may feel as if, “no one cares either way” and lapse back into underperforming. 

Employee recognition strategies boost morale and signal that hard work is not for nothing.

Even if employees aren’t physically present in the office, it remains crucial to recognize their achievements and contributions to foster a sense of appreciation and motivation throughout the team. 

Furthermore, fostering a sense of camaraderie and connection among remote employees through virtual team building activities can also mitigate feelings of isolation and disengagement.

6. No more unnecessary meetings 

Don’t disrupt your employee’s workflow with meetings which do not add value. This is a recipe for inattentive or multi-tasking attendees. 

Make sure all your meetings add value and follow a schedule. For worthwhile meetings use an AI appointment setter to handle logistics, booking, and scheduling. For the less worthwhile meetings, an email might suffice. 

Final thoughts 

Small businesses can prevent quiet quitting in their teams by proactively addressing the root of the problem. Maybe the workload is excessive, pay is unsatisfactory, or employees do not feel appreciated or listened to. When managers fairly reward and communicate with their teams, disengaged employees can be returned to productivity. 

Categories: Business Advice, News


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