On August 12th, The Wall Street Journal released an article, If your coworkers are ‘Quiet Quitting’, here’s what that means.

Since then, major news outlets around the world, from The New York Times, to CBC and The Guardian, have all released articles on the quiet quitting phenomenon.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you might not be familiar with the term. I would give you a definition, but given how many people have written about it, it’s actually pretty hard to pin down as a concept.

The name itself is misleading. Quiet quitting doesn’t actually mean leaving your job. For some, it means working your hours but not taking work home with you, muting work emails after hours and having a clean break between work and home.

For others, it’s a case of coasting through and doing the bare minimum needed to get work done.

So, what does it really mean to quiet quit?

Gif of Tom Hanks from the film You've Got Mail with the caption 'It's not personal it's business'

We all know the old expression, it’s not personal, it’s business. But in reality, businesses are wholly dependent on the people that make them. So if your people aren’t happy, your business won’t be either.

During the pandemic, many people took stock and realized their jobs didn’t fulfill them, didn’t pay them fairly and/or placed unreasonable demands on their time. So they left.

Now people are realizing that even if you love your job, it doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your mental or physical health for it.

The ‘hustle’ culture we’ve all subscribed to for the past few decades, that you have to grind and put your life on hold for a career, has deemed anything less than 100% 24/7 not ‘good enough.’

But is it really lazy to work 40 hours a week and expect your free time to be, well, free?

People who have described themselves as quiet quitters have, in the past, suffered severe burnout, fatigue, and stress-induced hair loss. You name it, they’ve had it.

But we’re all so subscribed to this ‘hustle culture’, that when anyone suggests not dedicating their every waking moment to work, they’re accused of being lazy and lacking commitment to their company:

“People who coast have been fixtures of the office for decades, but many of today’s less-invested employees have been able to skate by thanks to remote work,” said Elise Freedman, a senior client partner at consulting firm Korn Ferry.
“If the economy sours,” Ms. Freedman said, “less-engaged workers may be more at risk of layoffs. It’s perfectly appropriate that we expect our employees to give their all”.

Read Freedman's full statement to The Wall Street Journal here.

If this is the case, Freedman may be struggling for employees next time the economy dips, as the Gallup State of the Workplace 2022 report found that only 33% of Americans are engaged in their work.

That’s staggeringly low, but in Europe that figure clocks in at only 14%.

The numbers speak for themselves.

The reality is that there always have and always will be people who do the bare minimum at work.

But there are also a lot of people who work very hard during their work hours and are reflecting on how to balance that with their health and lives outside of work.

And is there any reason why people can’t ‘give their all’ during the work day but then set it aside at 5pm?

The rhetoric around quiet quitting puts having a balance and being lazy hand-in-hand, and puts blame on individuals.

But really, it couldn’t be more obvious that this is just the next in a succession of inevitable cultural shifts around how and when we work. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve all changed our approaches to work in so many ways.

What this new trend really shows, is these changes won’t be slowing down anytime soon. You can get stuck in the past, or you can get ahead of what it means to find a new way to work, and use it to your advantage.

Approaching ‘quiet quitting’ as a Go-to-Market leader

A lot of employers have got themselves pretty worked up about the ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon. But if you’re worried about people working hard and you think quiet quitting is what’s getting in the way, you’re looking at the problem wrong.

If you’ve hired enough people to do the work that needs doing, employees working to their contracted hours shouldn’t be an issue.

What you should be concerned about, is how many workers currently aren’t engaged with their work. Especially if you’re trying to pull off big product launches and recurring GTM strategies.

Go-to-Market is a big job, it’s got a lot of moving parts and relies on a lot of different people to be successful.

You need the people in your teams to be engaged, motivated, and eager to work when they’re at work, rather than mentally checked out between 9 and 5.

How do you achieve that?

CBC’s Jenna Benchetrit concluded that ‘the onus is on the employer’, and I’m inclined to agree.

Case studies put forward by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times suggested that employees who stuck to their hours and didn’t do overtime actually ended up producing better work and being more engaged than those who worked longer hours.

Improving culture in the workplace is the best way to increase motivation and engagement. So, here are three top tips to make your company a place people will actually want to work:

1. Look out for the mental well-being of your employees

Apps like Headspace, Calm, or Olivia offer workplace platforms that you can buy for your employees. These apps provide well-being support, mindfulness activities, and professional help, which can be hard for a lot of individuals to come by.

Making support easily accessible by removing barriers like finance or waiting times can make a really big difference for your employees.

And, to quote headspace, ‘Happier people make healthy teams, and healthier teams make successful businesses’.

2.  Listen to what your people have to say

Who doesn’t like having their voice heard? If you want your company to reflect the values of your employees, you need to ask your employees what they care about.

Employees are more likely to be motivated and care about a company’s success if they feel like a valued member of a community. So listen, reflect and act on what matters to the people that make your business great.

3.  Respect your co-workers boundaries

If you want to work until 2am, that’s your choice, but it sets a precedent that your staff are expected to do the same.

It’s important your employees feel comfortable setting boundaries for themselves and sticking to them. So, avoid contacting people outside of work hours, and don’t normalize working 14 hours a day.

If people actually want to work overtime that’s one thing, but feeling guilty for not working outside of what you’re paid for isn’t healthy. As we’ve seen, the more productive and motivated workers are the ones that actually do have that balance in place, so in the long run this will be better for your employees AND your business.

To sum up...

However you feel about quiet quitting, the way we all work is changing.

For Go-to-Market strategy, that means you’ll need to find new ways of keeping your teams aligned, motivated and engaged.

Luckily for you, we have everything you need to prepare your teams for working in the new normal over at Go-to-Market Academy.

Upskill your employees for united, supported and productive teams that will grow your business and set you on your journey to GTM success.