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Quiet Quitting? Quiet Firing? Quiet Hiring? It seems today there’s a label or term for everything, whether I’m hearing it from my “tween” kids using some term like “simping” to describe a social attitude or behavior, or if it’s to describe certain situational workplace practices like Quiet Quitting, Hiring, and Firing.

One basic issue I have with these “Quiet” terms (besides that they are misleading and neither quiet nor actually mean quitting, firing or hiring) is that, to me, these feel like catchy, summary terms to categorize pervasive and fundamentally poor management and personnel practices. We’ve heard a lot about Quiet Firing and Quiet Quitting, and now more so Quiet Hiring. In our field of staffing and professional services we engage with people every day who experience the physical, financial, and emotional impacts of all three.

Quiet Hiring is particularly disturbing to me because it speaks to this notion that instead of hiring new employees into roles, especially during economic uncertainty, companies assign added responsibility to existing employees; particularly higher performing individuals who are either attitudinally more eager and able to take on more work, and do so under the guise or promise of greater visibility and experiential learning. To me that sounds a lot like over-working your best people. This practice is certainly not new. It might have a new label but we see it very regularly when companies face RIFs or pull back on hiring.

Having led high performing teams and various organizational structures for over two decades, I have long believed that if work is regularly taking 50+ hours for multiple individuals to complete every week for more than a quarter, then there is an issue in either 1) the shared understanding of how long it takes to perform the work function; or 2) the company is comfortable with high turnover of staff.

I get it. Budgets are tight and companies are not in a position to hire, but let’s not pretend that we’re rewarding our best people by giving them additional assignments without relieving other workload. If it’s truly a temporary surge in workload, it can be manageable. However, piling on work in the long term often leads to burnout and turnover of those same high performing team member, which we know is directly counter-productive.

Company leaders, if there are other interesting and exciting opportunities for high performing team members to work on, then rather to load more work on their plate, perhaps consider adding interim project professionals to take on the everyday tasks that might prove interesting and dynamic to someone else for several months. If you’re not in a position to bring on interim or project professionals, consider re-prioritizing your most critical tasks or projects so that if you ask individuals to take on more, there are relief valves elsewhere.

As for Quiet Quitting? The inclination might be to think that the individuals who “check out” don’t care about their jobs, or perhaps are entitled and need to show more grit or passion for the job. I may be a contrarian on this, but in leading organizations, individuals and teams, I believe it is as much the responsibility of the manager to ensure that person is right for the role, has the ability to succeed, is rewarded accordingly, and can do so in a "normal" day’s and week’s work. I don’t subscribe to the notion that someone should be regularly working 50-60 hours per week to be considered a go-getter. That said, it’s critical that individual know what is expected of them, what success looks like, and how their success is measured. If individuals are properly incented and rewarded for great work, then I am less concerned if the raw hours required to make that happen don’t consistently add up to 40+. That may be an unpopular stance in an industry like staffing where active management and oversight is considered a de facto standard, but it aligns to my own belief about empowerment, happiness, and fulfillment as a professional, so I’m sticking with it!

If you find yourself in a position of needing to combat burnout and turnover. Contact WunderLand today!

Kerry Barrett, WunderLand CEO