'Quiet quitting is the natural sequel to the Great Resignation' as workers still rethink their jobs 3 years into the pandemic
- A recent panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos highlighted one recent workplace trend: quiet quitting.
- "I think that in some ways quiet quitting is the natural sequel to the Great Resignation," professor Adam Grant said.
"Quiet quitting" — or doing the bare minimum at your job without leaving — has been one of the hottest trends in the workforce in the last year. But so has been the Great Resignation, which has seen a massive number of workers actually leaving their jobs.
And it looks like there's a connection between these two popular trends, according to one expert.
"I think that in some ways quiet quitting is the natural sequel to the Great Resignation," Adam Grant, organizational psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said at a panel earlier this week at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
While some people ended up quitting during the pandemic, some workers may have wanted to see some kind of change out of work but ultimately didn't get that.
"Eventually, after trying to change their workplaces or their situation and failing, they said all right I'm just going to check out psychologically a little bit," Grant said.
Grant isn't the only professor to highlight how the two may actually be related.
James Detert, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia, detailed in a post on The Conversation how the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, and unionization efforts at big companies are actually similar.
"As a management professor who has studied worker behavior for over two decades, I believe these are all reactions to the same problem: Workers are dissatisfied in their current jobs and feel they can't speak up, whether about organizational problems, unethical behavior or even just to contribute their knowledge and creative ideas," Detert wrote. "So in response, they generally either leave or decrease their effort while suffering in silence."
Thierry Delaporte, CEO and managing director of Wipro Limited and one of three CEOs during the "Quiet Quitting and the Meaning of Work" panel, said that one reason behind why people may be "a little less into the job than they were before or they would want to be" is because of how hard it is to find the balance between work and life.
A LendingTree survey from October that included over 300 quiet quitters, found that a majority of them, 57%, saw their work-life balance improve. A Pew Research Center survey similarly showed that among working US adults who quit a job in 2021, over half found it easier compared to their previous role to balance work and family.
Grant, who doesn't like the term quiet quitting, noted in the panel that "quiet quitting, or whatever you call it, is a natural response to feeling that your employer, your boss has given up on you."
Grant similarly expressed this on Twitter in 2022, saying that "'quiet quitting' isn't laziness."
"When they don't feel cared about, people eventually stop caring," Grant said on Twitter. "If you want them to go the extra mile, start with meaningful work, respect, and fair pay."
The Great Resignation, and thus its "sequel" of quiet quitting, may continue in 2023 and be sticking around. One LinkedIn survey of US workers from December shows a majority, 61%, are thinking about making a job switch this year. And quiet quitters may also throw in the towel and look for new work. The LendingTree survey from October found that over half were looking for new positions, compared to 28% of those who weren't quiet quitters.
People may resign from their jobs for different reasons. Grant said at the event in Davos that people who mainly ended up leaving a job during the pandemic were those who wanted to leave "toxic workplaces" or had "abusive bosses."
However, those weren't the only reasons people have decided to seek a new role somewhere else. For instance, some quit due to lack of chances for advancement, as well as pay and lack of flexible schedules.
Delaporte said during the event in Davos that quiet quitting is "an opportunity for us leaders to really reflect on" that the "labor market has fundamentally changed." Anjali Sud, the CEO of Vimeo, also talked about what leaders need to do during the panel.
"I think we're in a unique world right now where what the next generation expects and needs to be engaged in their personal lives has not translated to work. And there's a fairly necessary reskilling, I would say, of leaders," Sud said.
And while this reskilling includes connecting with others in the "digital world," Sud said that she doesn't believe "most leaders feel equipped to do that."
"It's not a skill set most of us moved up the ranks being great at," Sud said. "And I do think that without it, this same phenomenon of phoning it in or quiet quitting can in fact lead then to not being able to retain and make productive great talent, especially in an environment right now where we all need more impact and productivity from our teams."
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