Quiet Quitting in the Talent Industry

Two senior recruiting leaders surprised

Quiet quitting is quite the hot topic these days. As an employer, this “new” notion may have you thinking that you have a bunch of employees who don’t want to work hard. 

What does quiet quitting mean in your talent business?

Simply, quiet quitting is when an employee shifts from over-performer to doing only the very basics their job, and nothing more. The acute pain here is in losing momentum-leading star performers, and seeing (or not seeing) them become disillusioned or demotivated to the point of a meaningful work slowdown.  

Whether or not we deserved the work-product these over-achievers were putting out is largely a separate conversation. And it’s one worth having. But for today, we’re focusing on what this avoidable loss of morale and productivity mean for your firm. And how you can avoid that in the first place.

You’ll hear this in the context of doing the bare minimum to get by until a better opportunity comes along. You’ll hear others say this is work life balance. 

You’ll probably hear yet another say that this is a result of burnout from the hustle culture. That the reward for their hard work wasn’t more money, extra PTO, or even recognition. That the reward they got for their above and beyond work was… more work. 

So, it's not new?

No, quiet quitting isn’t new. People have been doing some form of this for years. It’s just bubbling up again now as the Great Resignation is tapering off. 

Forced remote work thanks to pandemic restrictions changed a lot. Instead of commuting 2+ hours round trip, people were home – bringing work-life balance into the forefront of their brains. That extra two hours meant more family time. More time for working out. More time to relax. 

Employees saw that they were just as productive at home as in the office. Some companies even completely abandoned their physical offices and went permanently remote. They were saving operating costs and seeing the value remote work brought to their employees’ lives, and the trickle effect that had on their business. 

Even before the pandemic, hustle culture had taken over and it was a badge of honor to have worked 60 hours in a week. For some, this carried over into the pandemic as some employees felt like they had to work more hours to “earn” the “right” to work from home.  

Hustle culture caused burnout. Burnout caused reevaluation. Reevaluation led to the Great Resignation. And now we have quiet quitting. 

Identifying Quiet Quitting in Recruiting and Staffing Firms

What leaders can do about quiet quitting

Quiet quitting can mean many things to many people. The scariest thing to businesses is that you could have checked out employees sitting in cubicles or… [shudder] … working from their own homes. And, maybe you do. 

But maybe you don’t.  

More importantly, maybe you should focus on what would have caused this in your firm, and acting on that insight.  (Scratch that.  You should definitely focus on it.) 

Maybe the underlying causes are the lack of structure, process, and good training within your organization. Maybe thinking of your employees as people with their own lives first and as employees second can be a big unlock.  

Are you setting your employees up for success in the first place?  And is the path from overachievement and success to meaningful career advancement sufficiently clear to the employees you’re trying to motivate? 

In a recent live event, Kortney Harmon outlined one simple tool you can implement to overcome quiet quitting in your firm. 

As you can see, there are actions you can take within your firm to get ahead of quiet quitting. It’s about making sure you have a pulse on what’s happening inside your agency. It’s about training your employees to be successful in their work. It’s about recognizing and rewarding their work. Employees that feel like they’re doing well and being appreciated are happy employees. Happy employees, in turn, do better work. Perhaps even only within their 40 hour work week. 

For a deeper discussion of how to prevent quiet quitting in staffing and recruiting businesses, check out the full episode on The Full Desk Experience. 

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