How We Work: It’s Time to Talk About Quiet Quitting – Featuring KeyAnna Schmiedl
In this episode of the How We Work podcast, we’re getting into everything Quiet Quitting is, what it isn’t, and what companies can do to address the very real problem at its core. To help us make sense of it all, we’re joined by the new vice president of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Sustainability at Mozilla and friend of the show, KeyAnna Schmiedl.
And for more insights from Gallup and Workhuman into addressing the root cause of Quiet Quitting, keep reading below!
A Simple Solution to Workplace Challenges: Employee Recognition
Aftershocks of the great work from home experiment continue to ripple through the workforce — the great resignation/reshuffling, quiet quitting, and productivity concerns such as productivity paranoia and theater are wreaking havoc on the lives of both employers and employees.
While the terminology used to describe these very serious problems is new, their root causes are long standing workplace challenges, which happily means solutions to fix these issues have been identified and leaders can use tools to mitigate these disruptions to the workplace. Among the solutions readily available in every leader’s toolbox is something deceptively simple — employee recognition.
When recognition hits the mark employees are 4x as likely to be engaged, but what happens when it does not? They’re 4x more likely to be not engaged or actively disengaged in their jobs.
Insights from the latest Workhuman-Gallup study on employee recognition reveal how under-appreciation contributes to evergreen workplace issues – regardless of the name you’re calling them by.
Here’s how severe under-appreciation is contributing to the problem:
Lack of appreciation is associated with higher burnout — a primary reason why employees are behaving in ways that lead to quiet quitting to begin with. Three in 10 U.S. employees report being burned out very often or always , and nearly 4 in 10 U.S. employees feel that their job has a somewhat or extremely negative impact on their mental health. People are starting to feel like the late nights at the office and the “always on” mentality just aren’t worth it anymore, especially when their extra effort isn’t recognized or appreciated.
Among employees who “disagree” (i.e., give a 1 or a 2 on a 5-point scale in this instance) that they receive the right amount of recognition for the work that they do, HALF are burned out often or always. If your employees aren’t feeling appreciated, you might as will be flipping a coin with burnout.
The pace of today’s workplace doesn’t always allow for every day to be free of stress, tough deadlines, or frustrations. But what’s worse than feeling burned out is feeling both burned out and underappreciated. Why put in the long hours to meet challenging expectations if there’s no one on the other end acknowledging your contribution — and acknowledgement here is the bare minimum. If you notice your employee, teammate, or best friend at work going to extra mile to get something done, you, yourself, should go the extra mile to authentically show your appreciation for their contributions.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time you noticed a burned-out colleague trying to perform under an extreme amount of stress?
- Did you feel a sense of appreciation for their going above-and-beyond?
- Did you share that with them?
Culture & Connection
Recognition fuels an organization’s culture by showing employees that valuing each other is simply “how we do things around here.” Employees who receive recognition less often than a few times a month strongly agree that they feel connected to their organization’s culture at less than half the rate of employees who are being recognized by management a few times a month or more (12% vs. 32%, respectively).
These less-than-connected employees might have a friend or two at work, but more than likely they don’t have the “best friend” and they certainly aren’t recognizing their peers as often. Past research shows that employees who don’t give recognition at least a few times a month are 45% less likely to feel connected to their organization’s culture.
Encourage people to give and receive recognition freely — start by doing this yourself. Whether you’re a CEO, a mid-level manager, or an entry-level associate getting your ID badge on the first day — the recognition moments you create for others matter. Though organizational cultures can be complex and include many nuanced, intricate layers, an easy place to start right now is by injecting more intentional acknowledgement of the things and people you appreciate into your day-to-day routine.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time you saw someone produce really great work?
- Did you reinforce their great work with positive feedback? How?
- Why or why not?
Only 3 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that they belong at their organization. Recognition can foster inclusivity in your organization by providing those who are unfairly left out of the spotlight a chance to shine with their personal and professional accomplishments. When an employee disagrees that recognition is an important part of their culture, they’re sending a message that not only is recognition unimportant — it’s nearly absent at their workplace. Only one in 10 employees who share this sentiment strongly agree that they feel like they belong at their organization. About half of these employees receive recognition from their peers a few times a year or less and they’re much less likely to report recognition experiences that foster a sense of belonging, such as being recognized as part of a group or a team.
Incorporate a recognition audit into your existing DEI strategy. Explore the formal – and informal – systems of recognition happening at your organization, and identify exactly how, when, and why it’s being used. Does the system allow for recognition to be equitably given, or does it foster unfair favoritism that isn’t rooted in performance? Does the system allow for recognition to be given to people for personal accomplishments and milestones in addition to what they professional ones? Is there space for individualization and personalization for recognition moments? Connecting employees who feel like they don’t belong requires identification of the less-than-obvious ways they are being left out.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time you felt under-valued or under-appreciated at work?
- What circumstances led to this feeling?
- What can you do to make sure no one else feels the same?
When you create a genuine culture of recognition, you are forming a buffer against both today’s greatest workplace challenges and future disruptions (whether it’s quiet quitting, quiet firing, or remote work, or something else). Most importantly, recognition can be used to shape a thriving workplace because it signals what is valued at your organization, makes people feel appreciated, and brings teams together around meaningful work.
Recent Gallup and Workhuman research re-iterates that effective recognition continues to strengthen organizational culture, human connection, wellbeing, and inclusion in workplaces across the globe. All of which can be used to make your workforce more resilient to the next workplace challenge that disrupts your business. Focus on these things, and your workforce will be even more resilient to whatever comes next.