Wednesday, 27th September 2023

Quiet Quitting: The Shifting Landscape Of Work-Life Balance, Career Fulfilment, And Mental Well-Being

By Chinelo Eze
13 August 2023   |   6:00 am
Kenneth was over the moon when he got a call from the Human Resources of an IT firm he had yearned to work with. The call was the moment he had been waiting for. He described the moment as "Santa gifting a child with the perfect gift." Having been an IT guru, Kenneth had desired…

Kenneth was over the moon when he got a call from the Human Resources of an IT firm he had yearned to work with. The call was the moment he had been waiting for. He described the moment as “Santa gifting a child with the perfect gift.”

Having been an IT guru, Kenneth had desired no other career path than IT. Three years down the line, he revealed, “I’m going through ‘Quiet Quitting’ syndrome.” “Quiet Quitting?” You wonder.
How does an individual who once used to find fulfilment at work fall into the quiet quitting mode?

“Quiet quitting” is attributed to when workers are lacking in enthusiasm and have reached a point where work has lost meaning thus life too becomes questionable for these individuals.

In today’s fast-paced and demanding professional world, a subtle yet profound phenomenon is reshaping the way employees navigate their careers and interact within their organisations. Termed “quiet quitting,” this covert disengagement from work tasks and company goals has emerged as a unique response to job dissatisfaction, raising questions about the broader societal shifts in attitudes toward work-life balance, career fulfilment, and mental well-being.

According to a Gallup report, quiet quitters make up 59% of workers globally. The report further states that virtually 6 in 10 workers account for disengagement “quiet quitting”.

This therefore translates into having a cause and effect on the global economy, making it lose $8.8 trillion or in another viewpoint 9% of the global GDP.

Again simply put, quiet quitting is synonymous with being a zombie; only this time a zombie in a workspace. It is a situation when staffers are lacking the zeal to work assuming a threshold where work has lost its essence thus life too becomes questionable for these individuals.

Just like Kenneth, many Nigerians have become quiet quitters for a myriad of reasons that have quenched the spark they once had.

Breaking the Silence: Understanding the Quiet Quitting Trend

Quiet quitting is more than just a mere act of silently withdrawing from one’s role; it embodies a nuanced approach to dissatisfaction. As we delved into the data and gathered insights of the research conducted for this article, professionals across various sectors, a common theme emerged: a growing number of employees are opting to retreat into a state of disengagement rather than openly confront their concerns.

This trend suggests that individuals are seeking alternative ways to cope with their discontent, aiming to avoid the negative attention that may arise from traditional forms of quitting.

Clara, a 38-year-old mother of 3, when approached by Guardian Life on the growing concept said “I see myself in that category”.

She narrates her transition into the quiet quitting mode and notes that “lack of recognition, appreciation for work done, constant criticism and shutting down of one’s ideas”, wrings the neck of work done.”

Clara is not left out on this table as James also lists, “Burn out, salary (underpaid, delayed pay, mismatch between pay and economy’s inflation) as other factors that trigger quiet quitting, making it different from the traditional form of quitting by resignation.

Amidst the echoing corridors of the banking sector, Anthony Ukian Unah’s voice stands out. Hailing from a sector often associated with high-pressure environments, Anthony’s comments reveal the strains of underappreciation, low wages, and the disheartening feeling of quietly quitting without ever truly leaving. His words echo the sentiments of those who choose silence over confrontation. “I have worked in the bank as a marketer for 7 years and sometimes I ask myself why are you still here because these people don’t care about you”.

He wailed on his long years and hours with nothing substantial to hold on to and rather than being ‘rebellious’ by turning up his resignation letter he resolved to quietly quit; deciding not to go over and beyond on the job. “ That way it’s a win-win for everyone,” he said.

However, others asserted that the traditional forms of Job dissatisfaction include low pay, long hours, and dislike of one’s job in general. Nonetheless, quiet quitting factors are usually independent of the above; one can have the opposite of the above and still suffer from quiet quitting due to the aforementioned factors.

The Underlying Factors Impact and Solutions

The factors driving this phenomenon are diverse and intricate. Our analysis reveals that quiet quitting often stems from a combination of inadequate compensation, excessive workloads, and a lack of recognition.

In today’s competitive job market, professionals are reluctant to openly express dissatisfaction for fear of jeopardising their positions. Instead, they quietly disconnect from their tasks, resulting in a decline in productivity, team morale, and even overall performance.

Miracle asserts that quiet quitting made her distant from colleagues who began to sense her withdrawal and constantly asked “Are you okay? You are not acting like the Miracle we used to know.” She said that “Quiet quitting can impact work culture in several ways, ranging from low energy to work to not wanting to work in one’s most creative and energised mode.

Therefore quiet quitters are usually moody at work and numb to every situation and want them to come and be done in a flash.”

Also poking into the impact, the public health analysts, however, proffer solutions to this trend in the workspace. “The impact is being a bad team player to teammates and in the workspace which can in turn affect work productivity for all.

Companies can have an annual, monthly, or bi-monthly check on workers through organised psychology checkups to address systemic issues that could be driving a myriad of staff on the queue quitting march.

Individuals in a survey acknowledged that the impact of quiet quitting impacts workflow among team members.

Again for some others like Kenneth. “quiet quitting shows a lack of induction process and effective talent management in the company in question.” He suggests the adoption of an effective induction process and a look into such discrepancies by talent management.

While quiet quitting is not confined to specific industries, our research indicates that certain sectors may be more susceptible to this phenomenon. Fields characterised by high work demands, such as technology, customer service, and journalism, are prone to experiencing higher instances of quiet quitting. In these sectors, the imbalance between expectations and rewards can lead to disengagement as employees seek to safeguard their well-being.

Nurturing Engagement: Rethinking Work Dynamics

“Quiet quitting” in the workspace reflects a growing trend towards seeking work-life balance, career fulfilment, and mental well-being. Employees are increasingly valuing their overall quality of life and are less willing to tolerate unfavourable work conditions silently. This phenomenon can impact workplace culture negatively, leading to disengagement, decreased productivity, and a sense of detachment among team members.

To address this issue proactively, companies can implement several strategies. First, they should ensure an effective induction process and talent management to engage employees from the start. Regular employee surveys can help gauge engagement levels and gather feedback on job satisfaction anonymously.

Companies can focus on better compensation, benefits, and incentives to motivate employees and show appreciation for their efforts. Encouraging open communication and building a positive, respectful work environment can also go a long way in preventing quiet quitting.

Industries that might experience a higher prevalence of quiet quitting include those with low pay, demanding workloads, and limited opportunities for career growth. Sectors like education, healthcare, and customer service are particularly susceptible due to factors like poor salary structures, excessive workloads, and lack of recognition.

For both employees and employers, quiet quitting can have significant consequences. Employees may experience decreased job satisfaction, stagnant career growth, and emotional exhaustion. Employers face reduced productivity, increased attrition rates, and potential financial losses.

To retain talent effectively, companies should focus on fostering a positive work culture, offering competitive compensation, providing opportunities for growth and skill development, and prioritising the well-being of their employees. This proactive approach can help build an engaged and motivated workforce that contributes to the organisation’s success.

Acknowledging Employee Well-being: Companies must prioritise employee well-being by fostering a culture of care, understanding, and open communication. Regular check-ins and employee surveys can provide insights into underlying concerns and allow organisations to address issues before they escalate.

Reward and Recognition: Implementing robust reward and recognition systems can validate employees’ efforts and commitment. Recognizing and celebrating achievements can boost morale and motivate employees to remain engaged.

Promoting Work-Life Balance: Creating an atmosphere where work-life balance is emphasised empowers employees to take breaks and recharge. Employers can introduce flexible schedules, remote work options, and wellness programs to promote mental and physical health.

Empowerment Through Communication: Establishing open channels for feedback and idea-sharing fosters a sense of belonging and involvement. Employees who feel heard and valued are more likely to invest their energy and commitment into their roles.

Leadership and Management: Nurturing empathetic and approachable leadership is crucial. Managers should actively engage with their teams, addressing concerns and creating an environment where employees feel supported and encouraged to speak up.

In conclusion, quiet quitting is a nuanced response to the evolving dynamics of work-life balance, career fulfilment, and mental well-being. As organisations navigate these shifts, embracing a culture that prioritises employees’ holistic well-being is not just an option but a necessity.

By acknowledging the prevalence of quiet quitting and adopting strategies that foster engagement, companies can secure their most valuable asset – their talented workforce – while simultaneously nurturing a thriving, empowered, and motivated community.