Admittedly, the shift in the workplace paradigm induced by the pandemic is yet to ease as employees have adopted novel methods to deal with toxic and unsupportive employers. The unrivaled events that came with the pandemic forced employees to rethink work and redefine their well-being norms and work-life balance. Fast forward a few months after the pandemic, workers began to quit their jobs in droves to search for balance and purpose, in what has been aptly described as the “Great Resignation.” Now, there's a shift in this trend: workers are turning to the internet t share their own stories of “quiet quitting,” a situation where employees do not necessarily resign from work but set clear boundaries.
Quiet quitting may be seen as a Gen Z-driven trend, which has been gaining traction on social media. Essentially, these workers, citing the age-long lack of support and burnout in their organizations, opt to no longer go over and beyond the work and time they are paid for in their different roles.
It goes without saying that employees seem to have had enough of the “hustle culture,” in which they take more tasks, and stay longer than needed, often without extra compensation, to meet organizational goals and numb the guilt of “not pulling one’s weight.”
The pandemic was an eye-opener for many, exposing the flaws and inadequacies of workplace culture, revealing to them, from the myriad of job losses, pay cuts, furloughs, and forceful retirements that came with the pandemic, that they may not be as indispensable as they once thought and that some employers do not really prioritize workers’ wellbeing and health.
Add to that, the daily reports of COVID-19 deaths, ICU admissions, COVID-19 health complications, and the spike in mental health problems during the pandemic, and employees now place a greater stake in their health and well-being. As a result, more workers are being intentional about how much of them they offer to their organizations, which, many consider unappreciative.
For employers, this is just another crisis in the works. After struggling through the Great Resignation, with millions of workers leaving their offices and not returning and employers scampering to fill vacant posts, employers may be facing another monster at the workplace.
It has become evident that the workplace climate and culture are driving this paradigm shift and intentional steps need to be taken to mitigate the trend. There is a clear need to meet the mental, physical, spiritual, and well-being needs of employees, and an urgent need to veer organizational culture to focus more on these critical points.
Wellbeing is the key word here. How have employers handled employee well-being in the last few years? How has work influenced employee health and well-being? Were employees less healthy, less confident, or even less fulfilled coming to their work desks every day? Were employee benefits accessible and real or just good on paper? Were employers involved in the personal growth of their workers or were the workers just a cog in the wheel?
The fact that quiet quitting is a thing and is attracting millions of viewers and responses means employees probably don’t have positive answers to the above questions.
It is time to redefine organizational culture. What drives your organization? Is a healthy workforce a major priority or is it only limited to Wednesday wellness webinars and “an apple a day” email reminders? A healthy and productive workforce can only spring from a culture that supports one. Attempting to fix the problems of well-being and wellness without fixing the problems of an organization’s culture is like placing the cart before the horse.
Reshaping the culture of work means putting humans first before work. Work-centric or work-driven cultures have always left employees exhausted, burnt out, and unfulfilled. It is time to switch positions and make work employee-centric.
What are the most important well-being concerns of your employees? What problems do they face in carrying out their tasks? What are their most basic challenges at work? And what exactly do they need from you in the way of health and well-being goals?
If you think setting up yoga classes and launching weekly physical activity programs will suddenly end “quiet quitting” at your workplace, you might only be scratching the surface. A holistic evaluation of the currents and drivers of the well-being of your workforce is the first step in rolling out appropriate solutions.
The problem in your organization may not necessarily be work overload, for example, but that diversity, inclusion, and equity are non-existent. Workers of a certain religion or who have a different sexual orientation or skin color may feel underrepresented at all levels and, thus, may face undue discrimination or scrutiny. Creating yoga sessions in this context may only do so much.
Another problem may be that your wellness team is investing heavily in wellness solutions that are irrelevant to your organization’s context. While your workers may enjoy communal activities, such as tea breaks or wellness parties to get people interacting and bonding, your team may be offering mental health apps or other solutions that may be irrelevant to your workers.
For many workers, finance was one of the greatest stressors during the pandemic and still is, as inflation continues to eat deep into household incomes. Creating a financial wellness plan that identifies e employees where they are in their financial journeys and provides the right solutions would be a game changer in helping employees with their financial health.
Finally, with a culture that supports well-being, employees are made to feel they are not alone in whatever challenges they face. How responsive and accessible is your employee assistance program? Or is the office just set up to meet certain scores? Do your employees have an open feedback system in which they feel heard and valued? Does your EAP team have the requisite skills and resources to shoulder employees’ concerns and signpost them to where they can get help?
It is not necessarily about rolling out new wellness offerings but focusing on what your culture speaks. It is uncertain how long this trend will continue, but one thing that is certain is that employees have had enough and would adopt new methods to register their dissatisfaction with the conventional culture of work.