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Breaking The Silence of Quiet Quitters: Who is accountable and what we can do about it – Part I

Team Meeting Table

We’re supposed to be quietly quitting but it’s all become very noisy, hasn’t it? You’ve seen the headlines. Maybe read the articles. Even swiped through TikTok posts and social media memes that elevate radical self-care over a promise made for a regular paycheck. Give your employer the bare minimum, the mantra goes, “It’s not outright quitting your job, you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”

What did working from home for two years really expose?

Everything got fuzzy before clarity emerged! The lines between working and personal time blurred. Our kids and our bosses wanted our attention at the same time. We felt as if we were working around the clock. Many of us realized we didn’t especially love our day jobs, that there were a ton of other things we’d rather be doing, and that we may not – errr – have the courage to dive into them just yet. So we started to bide our time by collecting a paycheck (or maybe a few paychecks as some conniving characters are doing) to stall until we fully commit to our calling and get on with what we were meant to do on this planet. Each of us is accountable for that. Nothing new there.

Except that everything shut down during the pandemic and exposed our pain for what it really is. As an IT change consultant working with people at all organizational levels, at all ages, from all parts of the world, I think many of us have shut down, too. I see the resurgence of quiet quitting as a collapse of accountability. Let’s turn up the volume on that topic.

And I don’t put that on just one generation or one layer of corporate management. I put it on all of us.

Let’s start with leaders.

Leaders actually urge people to quit on them.

Executives that demand full-time, return-to-office (RTO) policies while taking shots at their teams have abandoned their leadership accountabilities.

Elon Musk scolded Tesla employees that “Remote work is no longer acceptable,” adding the dig, “If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.” Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase’s CEO, shared this prehistoric perspective: Working from home “doesn’t work for people who want to hustle, doesn’t work for culture, doesn’t work for idea generation.” 

It’s not just about RTO policies. Leaders who have lost touch with their employees as they struggle to redefine the value of work will also lose those employees. Empathy, respect, and co-creation of a new third option is required to engage voices and navigate the current tensions between employers and employees together.

Successful leaders will champion honest dialogue, listen, and learn from all corners of their companies. Then they’ll release that collective wisdom to generate new organizational change power that is authentic to their cultures vs. subservient to their egos.

quiet quitting

What about managers?

Employees don’t need more company swag. They need their managers to listen to them, understand how they do their best work, and support them in delivering it more often.

Click here for my take on their role in the second post of this series.

This is the first in a series of three posts about leaders, managers, and employees.

About the Author

John NielsonClient Lead

“Think like a marketer. Act like a change agent.” It’s John’s mantra when working to accelerate the digital change journeys of Fortune 500 organizations for the past 20 years. Expect his deep expertise in developing and deploying organizational change-management strategy & readiness activities, building and writing communication campaigns, and managing sponsors, teams & projects to educate, align, and engage all stakeholders in critical business initiatives. John also brings a fresh energy that inspires everyone to have a little fun along the way and make change stick. Proven. Creative. Gritty. Count on John for digital change leadership that sparks business transformation.

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