How Companies Get to the Bottom of Quiet Quitting

How Companies Get to the Bottom of Quiet Quitting

The topic of “Quitting” is stirring the HR world. People seem to be resigning in very different ways. Sometimes very officially, increasingly internally, often silently. Yet, what does it say about our work environment when people who do what is expected of them (no less, but also no more) are referred to as “Quitters”? – However, we don’t want to become too philosophical here. The fact is: people feel less connected to their employers today than the generations before them. According to a recent study by EY, only 13% of respondents feel a strong bond to the company (for comparison: in 2017 it was still 34%). For companies, this is both a curse and a blessing at the same time.

The Facets of Quiet Quitting 

Let’s start with “Quiet Quitting”. This includes the phenomenon where employees stay in the company, but emotionally and intellectually switch off. They only do the bare minimum and reduce their productivity, creativity, and interaction with colleagues to the required minimum. Not because they feel powerless and unmotivated, but quite consciously, to not let work take up too much space in their lives. Especially among young employees, this attitude was temporarily proclaimed a trend. But is this form of “Quitting” really a problem? – This requires a nuanced view: I think it is quite legitimate for an employee not to constantly go above and beyond the expected. Emotional distance from the company can also be healthy.

When Quiet Quitting Becomes a Problem

The problem arises when employees start to actively block processes and structures, both on formal and informal levels. For example, quite bluntly put, when informal conversations at the coffee machine are refused because they are not part of the employment contract. Such behavior can, if it affects more than just a few employees, lead to a toxic company culture. And can even bring organizations to a standstill. Not all processes can be formally defined. Informal approaches to tasks and challenges can facilitate and expedite work in many areas. Where this dynamic comes to a halt, work also becomes difficult for those who are actually enjoying their work. The risk of resignation increases, especially when there are sufficient job alternatives in the industry.

So, it can be concluded: Quiet Quitting as a conscious action becomes a problem when it blocks or downright poisons the informal and interpersonal in organizations, potentially making work less attractive for all employees.

Detecting and Addressing Silent Resignation

But there is also another form of silent resignation. One that does not come preventively, but as a reaction to the existing working conditions. I would like to refer to it here as “Inner Quitting”. Employees who do not feel seen, do not receive recognition, and do not see the value of their work reflected in tangible results or emotionally, eventually only do the absolute minimum, increasingly become numb and often fall far behind what they could and would achieve in a positive work environment. This form of quitting happens more subconsciously and is not targeted. However, the consequences for the atmosphere among the workforce can be similar to those of consciously working on a low flame.

Regardless of the reasons for the silent retreat. It is vital for companies to continuously detect and counteract such negative developments. For this, they need to find out how their employees are really doing – candidly and unfiltered.

Artificial Intelligence Provides True Employee Insights 

Getting authentic insights into the emotions and motives of employees, especially those who feel little connection to the company, is challenging. Traditional, quantitative employee surveys often reach their limits as they can lead to standardized and thus potentially biased answers. Quiet Quitters are likely to hold back or distort their true feelings and thoughts in conventional surveys. Making it difficult to gain a genuine insight into their perspectives and experiences. Here, the use of AI and especially Large Language Model (LLM) technologies can make a significant difference.

LLM-based technology, used in the HR context, is capable of analyzing and evaluating qualitative answers – i.e., text responses – and identifying subtle hints and patterns in the expression of employees. This makes it possible to understand what is actually going on in the minds of the people in the organization. Which needs remain unmet, and where there may be toxic behaviors or structures that undermine employee satisfaction and loyalty. By combining quantitative and qualitative data enabled by AI analyses, companies can gain a deeper, nuanced perspective on the needs and challenges of their teams. And thus make better informed and targeted decisions to improve leadership and corporate culture.

Setting Employees on Default with AI

Conclusion: The multifaceted act of “Quitting” – whether visible and loud, quiet and strategic, or latently internal – reflects the urgency to listen to the desire for change on the part of many employees. This change must be initiated by the people in leadership positions. They have never been better positioned to do so than today. Because AI-based technology is a game changer, especially in HR work. Companies should be bold and loud in going forward and using the new possibilities when it comes to the most valuable thing they have: employees who by default want to do good work.

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