I have heard a lot about “Quiet Quitting” recently, people who are hired to do a salaried job within a set amount of time and stop working when either the job is done, or the time has ended (whether remote or in person). For example, an accountant is hired for 40 hours per week to do accounting work. At the end of those 40 hours, they stop working, regardless of an upcoming audit or other additional work that needs to be completed.
At first glance, this is counter to what I and my fellow GenX’ers have always heard – “work hard”, “put in the extra hours.” So, our gut reaction may be negative…but let’s back up and think about what this trend is telling us as leaders and about our own work-life balance.
Personally, this “Quiet Quitting” trend has made me reflect on my connection with work. As a proud GenX’er, while growing up, I learned that I need to put extra work and time into my job to get a promotion. And boy did I; starting in my 30’s, I stopped seeing the difference between “who I am” to “what I do”. “I am a recruiter and a Business Owner”.
As my oldest child (now 25) once told me, “All you do is work”. Is this right? Is this healthy? As I am now thinking about retirement over the next decade, I cannot help to worry about what I will do next – did I forgo developing hobbies or connections because of this “work ethic?”
Do “Quiet Quitters” have a lesson to teach us about work-life balance? They are not alone in their relationship to work. As a 1st generation American, I cannot help but look at my European family and their health and happiness. My Cousins, Aunts, and Uncles all have hobbies, travel, and take a month off each year. Closer to home, hourly workers also have an expectation of 40 hours a week or they are compensated for overtime. “Quiet Quitting” is not quitting at all; at its base, it is taking control of balancing health and happiness with work.
A few questions leaders should be asking about “Quiet Quitting”:
- Do you care if someone has gotten their work done and takes the rest of the day off?
- Do your job scopes and performance metrics offer employees more or less work than they can get done in a 40-hour work week? Do you need to hire more people or reallocate assignments?
- Do you have the right people, in the right roles, with the right skills, behavioral traits, and values to get the work done?
- If there is an extra project like an audit or inventory, can you offer comp time or pay for this extra work?
- How can you take advantage of this trend to attract top talent that wants this balance and flexibility?
Change can be hard, but it is inevitable and can teach us lessons if we listen. I’m choosing to listen to this lesson!
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