Turning the tide on quiet quitting: 8 steps for cultural change
In the last three years the workplace has undergone colossal changes. Organisations and their people came together in ways never previously witnessed as the global pandemic spread across continents and countries. However, it appears that these same workers are now quietly quitting their jobs. This article looks at why these shifts are taking place and what may be done to attract and keep valued employees in these historic times.
At the height of the pandemic many organisations moved in the positive direction towards caring for their employees, while other organisations had less success in doing so. As a result morale among employees who felt neglected or ignored by their employers had drastically declined across many organisations. Only 32% of employees were deemed "engaged" according to Gallup data released in 2020, while 17% were deemed "actively disengaged." These figures show that there is room for improvement in terms of employee engagement and company culture.
Some of the factors of quiet quitting include employee burnout, a toxic work culture, difficulties with adjusting to remote work, lower motivation, uncertainty about returning to work in person and lower commitment to the organisation.
Based on qualitative research with 58 CEOs, published in my book Humane Capital, it is essential for organisations to focus on eight key areas or pillars that can help organisations reduce resignations and create long lasting change in their work culture.
Here are the 8 key pillars:
1. Mindset of leaders and employees
As a leader it is essential to understand the impact of mindset on both yourself and on your team. The Management Shift 5 Level Model is an evidence-based tool that can be used to determine the individual mindset and organisational culture. According to this model the 'Big Shift' occurs when an individual and organisation advance to Level 4, which is characterised by an enthusiastic mindset and a collaborative culture. At Level 4 performance, engagement, innovation and profits all significantly increase compared to Levels 1, 2 and 3, which possess command and control leadership styles. Level 5 is where teams really push the boundaries and come up with revolutionary ideas; this 'limitless' mindset and 'unbounded' culture allows teams to tackle big issues.
Employees who are enlightened at Level 4 are highly motivated to achieve all that they do. Employees at lower levels have lower motivation, engagement, passion in their work, and have no sense of purpose.
3. Higher purpose
Leadership is an integral part of any successful business, and as leaders it is important to ensure that our employees feel that they are part of a higher purpose within the organisation. By creating an environment where employees feel included and valued they will be more motivated to work hard and contribute to the overall success of the business.
4. Values and their alignment
One way to unlock your team’s potential is to help them understand how the work they do is connected to their personal values. By recognising the connection between their individual values and the organisation’s values your team will feel more engaged and more invested in the success of your organisation. As a leader it is important to take the time to have conversations with your team to help create this alignment.
5. Aligning of people and systems
Over the past two decades there has been a huge emphasis placed on aligning people and systems to support their work, as well as leveraging technology to humanise organisations.
The traditional office is evolving in many areas as teams become mobile, allowing managers to better hone their communication and people skills.
6. Self-organisation of employees in communities
As leaders it is our responsibility to create a workplace environment that fosters collaboration and encourages employees to self-organise. By allowing employees to experiment with different working arrangements and giving them the freedom to choose their own workspace we can create an atmosphere of trust, openness and innovation. We can also promote a sense of community among our employees, facilitating better collaboration and helping them to better understand their role in the organisation. Allowing employees to self-organise and work in communities can be beneficial for both the organisation and the employees alike.
7. Caring ethos
Leaders who want to create a high-performance culture in their organisation should embrace an ethos of caring for their employees. In Humane Capital Jules Goddard talks about why organisations need to make the shift towards valuing their people as human beings, not just as a means to an end. He advocates for a shift to Level 4, as there is increasing evidence that humane practices are linked to economic performance. By providing an environment where people can have a sense of identity, purpose and belonging, organisations can create an environment where employees go above and beyond for the organisation and its customers. Leaders should take note of this and strive to create an environment where employees are enabled to self-organise and work in communities to collaborate and be enthusiastic.
8. Organisational learning processes
It is imperative to create and implement learning and development plans for all employees in order to maintain their engagement with the organisation. This also communicates a message of commitment towards professional progress on behalf of the company.
The 8-pillars framework provides a comprehensive, yet simple, approach to cultural transformation. By providing steps and strategies that can be implemented by all members of the team these tactics will help to reduce the prevalence of quiet quitting in any organisation.
Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic, pictured below, is a professor of leadership and management at Hult International Business School (Ashridge). She is the founder and CEO of the training, coaching and consultancy firm Management Shift Solutions