Workplace Trend of “Conscious Quitting” on the Rise
Relationship to Quiet Quitting
I have previously blogged about “quiet quitting.” Most people say that there have been quiet quitters for years without giving the behavior a name. Apparently, TikTok has sparked interest in this activity. In July 2022, a TikTok user with numerous followers posted that he recently learned about quiet quitting and said: “You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You are still performing your duties, but you are no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work must be our life.” As you might expect, Millennial and Generation Z workers are at the forefront of the movement. Baby Boomers and Generation X workers are older and less likely to leave their jobs.
According to a study by Gallup, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce.. Many quiet quitters fit its definition of being “not engaged” at work -- people who do the minimum required and are psychologically detached from their job. This describes half of the U.S. workforce. Gallup found a decline in engagement and employee satisfaction among remote Gen Z and younger millennials – those below age 35.
According to research by LLC, when quiet quitters decide to do the bare minimum in their roles, they’re often pushing some of their responsibilities off on others, whether they realize it or not. Naturally, that isn’t going to go over well with some of the quiet quitter’s colleagues. In the LLC report, 62% of employees surveyed said they are annoyed by the trend of quiet quitting, with 57% stating that they had to take on extra work because a colleague had quietly quit.
The Tell-Tale Signs of Quiet Quitting
The following signs of quiet quitting illustrate why this trend could be dangerous for employers. Taken to an extreme, it could bring into question one's work/life balance and wellness.
- Disengagement on a chronic basis.
- Performance only to the minimum set of performance standards.
- Isolation from other members of the team.
- Withdrawal from any non-necessary conversations, activities or tasks.
- Attendance at meetings but not speaking up or taking action.
What Motivates Conscious Quitting
Lately, I’ve been reading about “conscious quitting” and how it differs from quiet quitting. The logical assumption is that conscious quitting entails a choice to knowingly step back from one’s work obligations because of a practice, or lack thereof, of one’s employer. However, there is a lot more to it than that.
“Conscious quitting” is a new workplace buzzword that describes employees leaving their current workplace for companies that better align with their environmental and social values. Not to be confused with quiet quitting, conscious quitting often involves actual quitting and stems from fundamental ethical and moral concerns, rather than general grievances like job dissatisfaction and limited growth opportunities.
Issues like corporate responsibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and global warming have consistently ranked as high priorities among Gen Z and Millennials. However, while these concerns are nothing new, recent data suggests that conscious quitting may be more widespread than previously thought.
A KPMG survey of 6,000 UK employees has revealed that 20% of office workers would turn down a job if environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors were lacking, while 82% see ‘shared values’ as a key consideration while finding new work.
These beliefs aren’t hypothetical. The research also found that one in five workers have actually turned down opportunities that don’t align with their values, with this portion rising to one in three for Gen Z employees ages 18 to 24.
According to a recent survey by Paul Polman, former Chief Executive of Unilever, conscious quitting definitely is taking place on U.S. soil, and data suggests it may be even more popular than in the UK.
In a survey of 4000 U.S. and UK workers released by Polman this month, it was found that three in four employees wanted to work for a company that has a positive impact on the world, compared to only two in the UK-focused survey. A stunning 45% of workers would consider quitting their position if their company didn’t deliver a positive impact, with even higher numbers being recorded for members of the Millennial and Gen Z workforce.
To fend off conscious quitting, employers should create a culture or that atmosphere where those individuals thinking about conscious quitting want to stay with that company. It could even relate to their work benefits. This would help find that longevity many people struggle to find in a job.
“Finding longevity in your career is a big struggle, I see people not necessarily staying in the same job for a long time which then can create a turnover, etc.,” said Salon Professional Academy’s director of admissions Tarah Ferguson.
Some reasons that lead people to ‘conscious quitting’ are:
- An excess workload
- Poor compensation
- Blurred boundaries
- Lack of manager support
- Unclear or shifting expectations, and
- Poor communication or conflict resolution skills.
An article by Teambuilding.com also provides some signs that someone could be thinking about “conscious quitting.”
- Decrease in productivity
- Sudden change in pushback
- Stops volunteering or taking initiative
- Avoidance and distance
- Lack of teamwork.
The Importance of Building Social Causes into a Mission Statement
Whether we’re looking at quiet quitting or conscious quitting the message is still the same. Gen Z and Millennials are looking for a purpose greater than themselves in choosing an employer. The notion of social entrepreneurship has drawn many to their cause. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “social entrepreneurship” is the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues. A social entrepreneur, therefore, is a person who explores business opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, in society or the world.
Managers and top executives need to expand their mission statements to include social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, equity, diversity, and inclusivity, and concerns about ESG (environmental, social and governance). Hiring in the 2020s is different than before and will continue to evolve as Generation Z employees enter the workplace.
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on March 28, 2023. You can sign up for our newsletter and learn more about Steve’s activities by checking out his website at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.