The term “quiet quitters” and “great resignation” have been front and center over 2022. Some people have referred to this as “working while retired.” Regardless of what you call it, the idea is that employees are in charge and working when and where they want.

This phenomenon of employees doing as little as possible to meet the minimu requirements and expectations of their jobs is rampant across the workforce. With an excess of available jobs and not enough qualified candidates, those left to do the work have been given an increase in responsibilities and not always an equal bump in compensation. However, even if the money is put on the table, employees are pushing back and saying,  no…because they can.

COVID and the need to begin remote work started this. The move to hybrid perpetuated the issue. Why wake up early, get dressed, and deal with the headaches of commuting when one can sleep later, have a relaxed morning atmosphere and work remotely while sitting in pajamas all day. While this is not enticing to everyone, there is a significant percentage of people who find this situation positive.

Since 2020, institutions have been forced to rethink their business models and how they deliver services to consumers or customers. Since there is a dearth of willing employees in the workforce, the employees left have taken on increased responsibilities. This transformation has also seen the rise of corporate social responsibility or CSR, and the social score of companies. This is often as important as the bottom line score. Some employees have used this as an opportunity to alter their work habits and behaviors.

When employees feel unfulfilled, they pull back. Because they are aware of the shortage and the need for employers to keep the team they have in place, there has been a paradigm shift in the power base. Employees are no longer worried about being let go from their positions and if they are, they happily sit on the sidelines as members of the gig economy.

Employees today want to be able to understand the mission, vision, and values of the organization they work. If the leaders of these institutions can not adequately paint a picture or motivate the team properly, morale becomes affected.  Managers don’t spend enough time talking about goals and objectives, work plans are not created together, and there is no longer enough one on one meeting and coaching. The lack of focus from managers has a trickle down effect to employees who want to be led. Good, honest, and transparent communication and feedback is disappearing as everyone from the CEO down is becoming too busy.  In Hebrew, there is a term called “Rosh Gadol,” which translates literally to the big head. How does every single person fit into the puzzle and how does their role impact the organization. While the sum is usually greater than the parts, you can’t get to the sum without the parts. In this case, the parts have hearts and care.

Factor in also that today’s employee sees more to life than just work. The workaholic, seven day a week, never miss a day attitude is not respected or admired. This new worker wants a better quality of work life balance. There is more to life than just work and the remote/hybrid lifestyle offers the ability to be home for extracurricular activities – things they are much more passionate about.

If employees are not inspired at work, they will find other more interesting things to devote their time to. Or, they will find other jobs with better and more interesting leaders.

The best leaders are those who take the time to engage in creative problem-solving with their employees on how their unique talents might drive the organization’s priorities forward. They will show the way forward and set rules and parameters around communication and expectation.

It is more than okay if you’re pushing your team slightly out of their comfort zone. They’ll gladly do that if they know that you’ll have their back when they make a mistake or two. The only way to grow is to do things you haven’t done before. Mistakes are good when you learn from them. Have your employees backs all the time regardless and give them the credit and you will see an amazing transformation.

This so-called quiet quitter phenomenon is not a new situation. People have been quietly quitting their absent leaders for decades – leaving jobs or finding something else to occupy their time.

Fixing this problem will take focusing not only on the employee but spending real energy on the leaders. Leaders are harder and harder to find. I’m not willing to give up as I know they are out there.