'Quiet Quitting' at work: What's the cause, what's the solution?

You're physically still present, but your spirit, that's long gone. Quiet quitting might help you cope better at a job that has lost its meaning for you. But career coaches say it won't make you any happier. — Photo: Bernd Diekjobst/dpa

BERLIN: Instead of giving all your effort, you just go through the motions. Instead of 110%, you do the bare minimum.

Alarm bells are ringing in many HR departments amid an apparent rise in disgruntled employees "quiet quitting" at their workplace.

The question: What's it all about, and is there a solution?

Julia Hapkemeyer, a psychologist and managing partner at the human resources consulting company EO Institut in Berlin, describes quiet quitting as "an attitude about work in which I have consciously decided to withdraw my commitment."

As a rule, preceding this stage is a phase when the employee had once shown a willingness to work and engagement. But then, somewhere along the line, a kind of breach took place in the expectations of the employee and employer about their relationship.

If the effort of an employee is not appreciated, it can come to an inner resignation, Hapkemeyer says. Often, there is also a withdrawal from the colleagues.

Jannike Stoehr, a former personnel officer and now a career consultant, says that what might trigger this can be disappointment about not being promoted or, despite good performance, not being given new tasks. "People want to do a good job, but if they are always being discouraged this can lead to inner resignation."

Structural factors can also play a role, Hapkemeyer adds: "Staff reductions, a limited scope of duties, permanently unclear structures and areas of responsibility, constant under- or overwork."

When an employee's energy ebbs

But there's a problem with quietly quitting: Usually, the dissatisfaction continues. Employees themselves can look at various factors and realise that they have actually already resigned internally. "The most important characteristic is that things used to be different," says Hapkemeyer. "And that doesn't only have to refer to performance, but also to working with others."

Imaginable is a situation in which you are no longer ready "to look left and right" and no longer prepare the rest of your team for your upcoming holidays. "Because I think they should see how well they will cope next week," is how Hapkemeyer describes the thought process of the dissatisfied worker.

But your own condition suffers from this, Stoehr says. "That feeling like when you get up out of bed in the morning in bad mood, with no joy and not even able to feel any anger." The feeling that one's own energy is visibly ebbing away.

But, is there a path out of internal emptiness? Hapkemeyer's advice is to find a new approach to your work. "A cognitive re-assessment can help me to accept how things are and to decide to stay," she says. Those who experience permanent stress and dissatisfaction can also head for an outside contact point to get some advice.

Jannike Stoehr advises employees to examine their own pattern of thinking and to be clear about how they can help achieve an improvement. The answer to such questions as "Why am I here? What's good about it? What do I want?" can lead the way forward. An "awareness about your own path" usually has a positive effect.

Seeking outside help

The best support in finding a way out of the situation can be provided by the supervisor. But since it is precisely a troubled relationship with the boss that often triggers the crisis, another possibility is to go to the HR office or the works council.

Jannike Stoehr points out that mediation can lead to improvement, while Julia Hapkemeyer suggests this: "What can help the individual person might also be to change departments or get new responsibilities."

If the state of internal resignation persists, employees will eventually have to explore their own options. "Changing jobs is not always the best option," says Stoehr. "If it's just certain aspects that bother me, it makes sense discuss it and make the urgency clear in order to get something changed."

At the same time, notes Julia Hapkemeyer, the question of your own health is also important: Where depressive moods are already emerging, then if possible a workplace change should be considered. – dpa

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Quiet quitting , Work-life balance


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