Saturday, September 23, 2023

From silent stopping to smarter working

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Last year it was the “Great Dismissal”. This year it’s “quiet stop,” or the act of doing what’s asked of you at work and not going beyond that. This phrase, whether it’s clickbait, hype, or whatever you call it, has been making the rounds online to grab the attention of today’s workforce and spark a movement. However, this is not a new concept. Some say it just “does your job”. But it crops up everywhere and can last as long as the ‘great layoff’. We need to be careful about how we use and interpret the term, and most importantly, we need to shift our focus from the problem to a solution – creating a sustainable pace of work for all.

Why is #QuietQuitting a thing now?

I see three clear factors driving this trend right now. The first is the pandemic and social distancing. It has had a significant impact on culture and mental well-being. While the benefits of remote working are many, at some point employees can lose the same drive they had in the office drawing on the energy of their colleagues and vice versa. Even in hybrid environments, employees may come to the office a few days a week, but there are still many empty desks. It is difficult to achieve the same level of energy and build a corporate culture without critical mass. Add to that job hopping and it’s hard for many to feel connected to a team, especially if they’ve moved to a company where there’s a cultural mismatch or where the values ​​are misaligned.

The second factor is Digital Transformation, the acceleration of which has been both a blessing and a curse. It enabled remote working in record time, but it also blurred the lines between home and office, work and personal time. It tipped the scales in favor of work as synchronous apps pushed messages to our devices 24/7. Wrike’s recent Dark matter of work research found that employees receive an average of 295 messages and use up to 14 apps per day. And with global teams, employees can receive requests from colleagues in those apps any time of the day. This created the hot potato effect, which can become overwhelming and stressful. People feel like they’ve lost control of their work-life balance, and ‘quitting quietly’ is their way of regaining it.

Finally, and most recently, is the state of the economy. Inflation, talking about a recession and other social and economic macro trends force organizations to do more with less. Most have had to cut spending. Others have had to cut their workforces and rely on those who survive to get the job done. This in turn puts pressure on employees to be more efficient, but how can we, as leaders, empower them to do this? I’ll get to that in a minute.

Why should we be careful?

The term “quiet stop” can be confusing, possibly intentional, and if not properly explained on short content channels like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, it can do more harm than good. Essentially, it refers to the idea that employees are burned out and doing the bare minimum, or only what is absolutely necessary to skate by on their workday. While some people may hear the phrase and see it as an attempt to regain work-life balance, others may think, “Office space” – employees barely show up and get little accomplished in between.

Unfortunately, if we continue to use this terminology, it could have a lasting, negative impact on the way the next generation thinks about work. The words have meaning and power, and as far as my dictionary goes, the word “quit” doesn’t mean “do a good job during your working hours,” but rather “give up.” How would you like working for a boss who misinterpreted “quiet stop” and doesn’t care much about your team, you or the company? Or how would you feel if the project that is critical to you is blocked by a colleague slacking off on another team? If employees don’t live up to expectations, it’s not fair to anyone: the employee, their co-workers, their manager, or the company they work for. The majority of Gen Z do not have direct access to experienced career mentors, so misunderstood or controversial TikTok advice could cost them their jobs in an economic downturn and a poor reference that will follow them for years.

So don’t believe the hype if giving up idolizes it. Look to the advice of experts, journalists and influencers focused on finding ways to create a more productive work environment that will help you achieve your goals and go home to your family. It is not a new problem and there are existing solutions for it.

One of the solutions is as old as ‘office space’ and still as relevant

Cutting budgets and laying off staff is not sustainable for long-term growth. Efficiency should be about rethinking the way your employees work so it can be done in a much smarter way. The way to work smarter is to work at a sustainable pace.

This word is often associated with the climate crisis. How can we do things in such a way that it has a lasting positive effect? The same question should be applied to work. Twenty-five years ago, software developers were like hamsters in a wheel. They were sleep deprived and overworked, while the business experts reported that 80% of software projects were a failure. Rather than quietly quitting, some software developers have made the decision to eat their pie as well.

In 1996, the first Extreme programming project began, kicking off the Agile revolution. It really took off in the early 2000s and was a precursor to Kanban and Scrum, which revolutionized the entire software development industry and changed the way millions of developers and thousands of companies build software. One of the “rules” of Extreme Programming was to “set a sustainable pace” achieving smaller successes on a more frequent basis. If tasks can’t be done on time, focus on the tasks that can and set the others aside for later Don’t force your employees to do more than is humanly possible (or more than they are paid for.) Combined with others best practices focused on productivity and results, the results of this approach were and still are astonishing. to do more in a 40-hour work week than they previously did burn midnight oil, giving them a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie with their colleagues. It helped achieve a better work-life balance, which is what we all strive for.

As you can see, for software developers, the change had nothing to do with quitting. Rather, it was “the art of completing twice the work in half the time” (which is a true title of one of the most popular books on agile processes called Scrum by Jeff Sutherland). If there is a better way of working that has been proven time and time again, wouldn’t it be in the best interest of your staff, your company and the next generation of employees to at least investigate? More on this in part 2 of this article.

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