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AFP 2023 Blog

AFP 2023 Blog

AFP 2023 Blog

Revitalizing Employee Engagement in a 'Quiet Quitting' World

Jul 19, 2023

By Robin Johnson, MBA, MAPP, Robin Learning Systems, and Kristie Ondracek, CPA, CGMA, CAE, TXCPA Houston

February 2020 is not coming back!

The pandemic irreversibly altered the world of work, and post-Covid corporate highways and byways are now littered with one new buzz phrase after another: The Great Resignation, The Great Break-Up, Loud Layoffs, Quiet Quitting, Please Come Back …

Organizations of all types and sizes are trying to make sense of and adapt to “the new normal” following Covid’s complete disruption of work as we knew it. It is clear that past managerial approaches and mindsets are less effective, and perhaps ineffective, in today’s work environment. The human side of enterprise is now taking center stage for creating organizational agility, resilience and sustained success. So-called “soft skills” are now, finally, being recognized as “power skills” and are becoming part of a leader’s expected core competencies.

Disengagement, now given the alliterative title “Quiet Quitting,” is not a new phenomenon. It has been studied for at least 25 years. However, Covid brought an onslaught of mental health issues and discussions of well-being at work to the forefront of management’s attention. Some of these issues are the primary drivers of engagement and disengagement.

In at least one respect, Quiet Quitting includes a positive perspective. The fragility of life revealed by the impact of Covid has caused many employees to reconsider the belief that working overtime, climbing the corporate ladder and always pleasing the boss are the most important things in life. As stated by one worker, "There's so much more to life than working myself to death."

Another phrased it, “You are still performing your duties, but you are no longer subscribing to the ‘hustle culture mentality’ that work has to be our life. The reality is, it’s not, and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.”

These positive nuances aside, disengaged employees that don’t leave a company physically, but “leave” emotionally and psychologically, reduce productivity and can dampen the morale of other workers. It is financially costly, disruptive and deflating to any organization.

One of the drivers of Quiet Quitting is the belief that you are not valued by an organization. Being valued shows up in such areas as providing adequate resources for employees to fulfill their responsibilities and genuine concern for their well-being.

According to research done by Deloitte, only a little over half (56%) of employees think their company’s executives care about their well-being. However, the vast majority (91%) of the executive management think their employees DO believe they care about the employees’ well-being. This huge mismatch in perception leaves managers and leaders bewildered by their employees’ seemingly inexplicable post-Covid behavior, and leaves employees frustrated by their managers’ perceived indifference.

Going further, only about half of employees say their company embeds well-being into their workplace culture and people’s jobs. And nearly 70% of the C-suite are seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being. If only a portion of these statistics come to fruition, the disruption to organizations will be substantial.

Understanding the various drivers and nuances of Quiet Quitting, and an engaged versus disengaged workforce, can provide a pathway for managers and leaders to create appropriate responses to this post-Covid “phenomenon.” There are various factors that can be explored and put to good use in creating positive solutions.

These include:

  • A sense of belonging.
  • Psychological safety.
  • Genuine collaboration within and between organizations.

A primary driver of employee engagement, discovered through extensive research by Qualtrics, is having a sense of belonging. In fact, “belonging” shot to the top of the list in 2021, causing Qualtrics to declare it “The Year of Belonging.” Similar results were found in the 2022 and 2023 reports.

A sense of belonging is undergirded by psychological safety within the company culture and workplace. One aspect of psychological safety is using mistakes as springboards for learning and positive change rather than as a starting point for blame and shame.

Psychological safety and a sense of belonging can lead to greater collaboration within and between organizations, spurring creativity and innovation.

With continual fluctuations in the job market, disengagement and “quiet quitting” ebbs and flows. However, even if the job market tightens up and employees find themselves “hanging on” instead of jumping ship, crafting a workplace that enhances engagement provides measurable benefits to all levels of the organization.

Finance executives, managers and team leaders are tasked with creative problem-solving in response to uncertainty in the marketplace. Technical data and statistical analytics must be accompanied by humane collaboration and employee engagement at all levels in order for an organization to survive and thrive in the business world. Organizations that neglect their human and social capital put their financial and technical capital at risk.

Join us at AFP 2023 for “Revitalizing Employee Engagement in a ‘Quiet Quitting’ World,” an interactive, hands-on session, using science-backed, evidence-based principles and practices. Attendees will receive the latest research in employee engagement and organizational well-being and engage in interactive discussions and skill-building exercises to:

  • Facilitate collaboration within and between organizations.
  • Uncover psychological hazards that may be unrecognized.
  • Create psychological safety within and between levels.
  • Develop rituals and routines that can foster a sense belonging.

These discussions and exercises will be informed by the Appreciative Inquiry model of leadership development and organizational change.

Leaders at all levels can use the science-backed, evidence-based principles, practices and “power skills” which will be taught in this session to create “workplaces where people want to stay, instead of wanting to leave.”

Check out the full lineup of AFP 2023 sessions on the Session Explorer.