You likely heard this term if you spent more than 30 minutes online this summer. It started as a whisper on social media, then became headline material toward the end of the summer. It seemed to become the rallying cry for some in the workforce.
So what are people quitting, and why are they doing it quietly?
What is quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting refers to an employee who is there to collect a paycheck and isn’t emotionally or intellectually engaged. But why has it become so popular lately? Well, it’s really about burnout. Employees are saying “No more!” to excessive overtime hours, working weekends and evenings, and even work-related stress and anxiety. Those living by this mantra are fine doing the job they were hired for, but they’re done living for work 24/7.
While the pandemic is undoubtedly a cause of the uptick in quiet quitting, it’s not necessarily the only cause. Pressures to conform to “business norms” and frustrations from a lack of diversity and inclusivity have likely sparked the quiet quitting fire. And quiet quitting doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
A recent Gallup survey suggested that quiet quitters currently make up half the U.S. workforce. And companies are scrambling to figure out how to get their teams re-engaged and excited about their work. So, how do you know if your team members are quietly quitting, and how can you avoid it running rampant through your team?
What are the signs of quiet quitting?
Before you can help your team re-engage, you need to be able to spot the signs of quiet quitting. Some things to look out for include the following:
- They were previously engaged but are now withdrawn.
- They no longer give input.
- They’re apathetic about projects or deadlines.
- They give the bare minimum effort.
- Their teammates pick up the extra workload.
How do I keep my marketing team engaged?
Your team’s success depends upon the engagement of your team. With increasing demands on marketing departments, your team may feel more pressure. So, how can you keep your team members engaged while maintaining your competitive advantage?
1. Ensure you’re equipped to lead effectively.
Not all quiet quitters are young Millennials and Gen Zs. The Gallup survey discovered that one in three managers are not engaged in their job. Many successful marketing managers rose through the ranks in a traditional on-site team model. But living in a post-pandemic world means things don’t always work as they used to. And that can be very frustrating. Today, marketing leaders must learn how to successfully navigate a hybrid work model and ensure they’re up-to-date on the marketing tools available to their team.
Once you’re equipped to help your team, it’s time to start working to help team members re-engage or, better yet, keep from quitting quietly in the first place. While there are several well-intentioned managers with quiet quitters on their teams, bosses are also a factor in the uptick in quiet quitting. Almost everyone has at least one story of a boss they didn’t align with. This leader typically focuses on results over people. While performance is of utmost importance in business, the best team performance only happens when your team is aligned. This requires managers to lead with empathy, ensuring every member feels supported, valued, and engaged.
2. Build trust.
How can you ensure your team is supported, valued, and engaged? The Harvard Business Review highlighted trust as the key to successful teams. “When direct reports trusted their leader, they also assumed that the manager cared about them and was concerned about their well-being.”
People respect and trust authentic leaders. If you want your team to respond positively to you, you need to bring your whole self to work and commit to genuine dialogue, even when it’s difficult. People can usually tell when you aren’t being authentic. The best leaders listen more than they speak, relate to their employees professionally and personally, and advocate for their needs.
This authenticity is the foundation of trust. It requires leaders to show empathy and remain consistent. So how do you cultivate these positive relationships needed to create a trusting and loyal team?
3. Develop a regular communication cadence.
The Gallup survey noted that workers under 35 felt no one in leadership cared about them or their growth. Worse yet, less than four in 10 young remote or hybrid employees clearly understood the expectations for their job.
Your team must know that you value them, both as an individual and as an employee. They want you to understand that they have personal lives and interests outside of the company. But they also want you to equip them with the tools they need to succeed in their current job and the job they want in the future. Great leaders always look for ways to help their teams thrive in roles that might not even exist.
If you don’t have a 1-to-1 meeting with your employees every week, start there. It would be best if you met with each team member regularly. Just 30 minutes each week can help you align on priorities and concerns. These meetings aren’t just about listening to their daily tasks. This is an opportunity for you to build trust. It’s a platform to reaffirm that their work matters to the organization and to you.
Your role in these meetings is to listen. Create a safe space for them to ask questions. Help troubleshoot the problems they face at work. Do they have a work-related problem you can solve? If there are roadblocks to their success on a project, you can likely step in to help remove them.
Whether your team is on-site, off-site, or a combo of both, it’s essential to step back and figure out a way to manage your team members effectively. The days of “one size fits all” leadership are over, and tailored solutions for employees are critical for success.
4. Take a hard look at tasks.
During the early days of the pandemic, businesses were operating with all hands on deck. We’re now more than two years in, yet many teams still function as if we were at the height of the global lockdown.
It’s time to take a step back, look at each team member’s task list, and re-prioritize your to-do list. What’s critical for their role, and what should be a nice-to-have? If there are still too many to-dos on the list, consider your options. Can you hire additional team members or outsource tasks to a freelancer or temporary employee?
5. Be consistent.
Consistency is more important than ever before. As leaders, we must commit to our team’s success and provide a stable environment for them to learn, perform, and grow. Set clear expectations and help them prioritize. When it comes to a successful implementation process, your team must know how to collaborate effectively and share a collective end goal. While individuals are evaluated on their own KPIs, they must be able to articulate how their individual contributions impact the team’s success. With a clear, consistent process, your team will run like a well-oiled machine.
Once everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, give them the autonomy to do the job you hired them to do. You should not be expected to be the expert in every niche of your department. In fact, that’s impossible! That’s why you need a team. Your team comprises experts in specialty niches that add unique value to your output. Let them hold responsibility for their niche and provide insight based on their expertise.
In addition, the consistency of your words matters. If you make a promise, do you deliver? Your team takes your words at face value, and you must decide what information is most important to share. If you cannot keep a promise or deliver on a previously communicated expectation, share it with your team in a clear, timely way to maintain trust and encourage open dialogue.
Most importantly, make it safe to fail. Because it will happen, and no one feels appreciated or productive when they’re constantly striving for perfection. We’re humans, and while accountability is necessary, so is grace. When it comes to mistakes, people learn and grow when they fail fast.
How can we change the narrative?
Successful marketing teams have strategic leaders that know how to navigate the ups and downs of business and help their teams avoid burnout. They’re good at setting boundaries and communicating expectations, even for themselves.
With regular 1-to-1s and team meetings, you can help your team prioritize the most critical projects, taking the burden off their shoulders. If there’s an option to scale production with other internal team members, freelancers, or AI, take advantage of the opportunity!
It would be easy to dismiss the quiet quitting movement as a fad. But this is an opportunity to pivot your team’s dynamic for sustainable production and growth. As companies chase market demands, content needs will only increase. We’ll need to do more with less—fewer resources and fewer team members.
A healthy team that enjoys working together will be primed and ready to take on new challenges.
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