What is ‘Quiet Quitting’ and how to know if it’s happening in your firm

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Quiet Quitting is the new buzzword and the trend does not bode well for employers who are already struggling to find qualified help. Quiet Quitting is defined as a “softer approach” to quitting your job. This is when employees do not actually give notice and leave, but they quit the idea of going above and beyond.

Welcome to the generation of doing the bare minimum. This is essentially what to expect if your employees are quietly quitting. Employers are finding that more and more employees are breaking up with the hustle mentality of work and shying away from any idea that work is their life.

Quiet Quitters are not necessarily underperforming, they are just simply meeting the minimum required bar. They are not going above and beyond what is expected of them. This is the exact mentality of the phrase. They don’t allow work stress to follow them home, or to stress them out at all actually.

Quiet Quitters are not taking the pressures of the job personally and it looks a lot more like going through the motions of only what’s included in their job descriptions.

Employers need to be aware of this reality, most likely you already have team members who are doing this. A lot of people are doing this and just never labeled it as such. So what can you do to help minimize this in your practice and keep employees engaged?

1. Make sure you properly compensate your team

You cannot skimp here in an already challenging job market. It is true that not everyone is motivated by money, but underpaying for a position is going to increase the likelihood of you getting minimum performance for your money.

2. Monitor increases in workload

Make sure that you keep these increases short. Of course tax season is tax season, but make sure you support your team taking time off immediately after. Provide them with as much opportunity as you can to decompress during the busy season and don’t require them to immediately jump into a busy auditing summer or extension season. 

Constantly increasing the workload, especially for no increase in pay is a recipe for disaster if you are trying to avoid the quiet quit from your team.

3. Make promotions optional

You can always make it clear to your team what is required of them if they want to get to the next level and there is nothing wrong with setting those expectations and requiring them to rise to the occasion. But not everyone will be interested in taking on the extra responsibility. Accounting firms traditionally have had the mentality of tracking to partner should be everyone’s goal. 

If you put that pressure on a team member who is not interested, you are going to do the opposite of inspiring them.

Quiet Quitters are not necessarily underperforming, they are just simply meeting the minimum required bar. They are not going above and beyond what is expected of them.

4. Make boundaries part of your internal controls

A quiet quitter is going to set up their own boundaries of not bringing work home with them, not answering calls and emails outside of working hours, etc. Establishing these boundaries as part of your firm culture is going to make it an expectation across your team instead of making your overwhelmed, soon-to-be quiet quitters, feel like they are on their own. 

Building this culture can help prevent your team from becoming quiet quitters in the first place because they feel supported in having healthy boundaries.

5. Monitor changes in behavior

If you had a top performer that went from superstar to average, you would have a quiet quitting situation on your hands. Be willing to have an open conversation with someone if you see a change in performance. It also is a good idea to monitor your top performers for burnout. If they are killing it because they are answering emails at all hours of the night, they are going to hit a limit at some point. 

The goal is to avoid burnout in the first place if you are looking to avoid quiet quitting in your practice.

Given the nature of the industry, this is all too common for our teammates and colleagues. In spite of the busy season being challenging, we have to work to change the demanding culture of the industry to support long-term growth in our teams. Losing a top performer to a quiet quit usually means you have started the clock to the real thing, but knowing how to identify it quickly may give you the opportunity to adjust and realign with their needs and goals. 

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