We work in specialist talent acquisition in the US, Ireland, the Middle East and Australia. I was recently speaking with a senior professional who left a job within 6 months while earning over 40% above market rate because of the toxic culture and management and it got me thinking about ‘Quiet Quitting’, a new phenomenon which is getting traction in the media currently. Post ‘Great Resignation’ is this the next issue that employers will have to face down?
‘Quiet Quitting’ doesn’t have a specific definition in the literature yet but can be described as doing the bare minimum so as not to get sacked. According to Dr Melrona Kirrane, Associate Professor of Organisational Psychology in Dublin City University, this may be signalled when workers do not demonstrate something called Organizational Citizenship Behaviour which is regarded as the glue that holds the organisation together. In other words, not ‘going the extra mile, or not helping out colleagues who may be struggling with their workload. One reason this may occur is if there is a breakdown in the psychological contract between the employer and employee. This refers to an unwritten expectation between employers and employees: for example, the employer expects that the employee will be loyal to the company and the employee expects that they will be fairly rewarded, challenged, not exposed to danger etc..
Recommendations for employers
Here are some ideas as to how employers can keep their staff motivated:
Person – Job Fit
If you have the right person in the right job, they are more likely to find it satisfying and deliver strong performance.
For the best chance of success, an employer needs to make sure the person fits the skills and requirements of the job and is interested in the role.
Sense of purpose
Employees are more likely to succeed when they can derive real satisfaction from their work. Employers want highly engaged workers who are dedicated, enthusiastic and energized – who find meaning, fulfilment and sense of purpose in their job. While some jobs, you could argue, have a greater intrinsic sense of purpose, eg. nurse, teacher etc. it is important that, no matter what the job is, the employer provides a sense of purpose by empowering the employee and highlighting the meaningfulness of the job being done.
Designing the Job
According to Dr Kirrane, in order to attract motivated workers – employers should consider the following 5 points when designing jobs: – variety, task significance, task identity, autonomy and feedback. These enhance the likeliness of workers experiencing a sense of meaningfulness, responsibility and knowledge of results. Those experiences enhance satisfaction, commitment and performance, while also reducing absenteeism and turnover.
1) Variety in the job. Ensure the employee isn’t doing the same thing every day.
2) Task identity is the degree to which a job allows an employee to perform a whole piece of work, rather than merely an element of a task.
3) Task significance – highlighting the impact of a person’s work activity in the grand scheme of things even if it is a menial task – it’s important the employee can identify why doing it makes a difference.
4) Autonomy occurs when workers have freedom and discretion to decide how to complete their tasks.
5) Feedback is when people are given clear feedback on the effectiveness of their performance.
Recognition and Achievement
Give people a sense of achievement or accomplishment for their efforts by way of public acknowledgement or formal awards.
Use psychometric tests during the selection process in order to enhance person-job fit. Dr Kirrane says that the best predictors of good performance are cognitive ability as measured by IQ tests, followed by the personality trait of conscientiousness.
Leadership development – in our business we are placing an emphasis on management development by using external training. It’s important that our future leaders realise that investing in their own personal development is a means of them becoming better leaders of others. For leaders to be effective, they need to focus on improving their ability to influence others and build their capacity to respond appropriately to the specific needs of the situations they face. Credible leaders need to be honest and authentic and actively reflect the values of the organisation.
Barry Prost is co founder of multiple specialist talent acquisition brands including Rent a Recruiter and Propel Consult. Barry is a committee member of the Employment & Recruitment Federation and Vice Chair of the Dublin Regional Skills Forum.