A question: It seems now that we’re past the worst of COVID, our employees are tired and unmotivated. It’s hard to get anyone to go any further, and many seem to want to do as little work as possible. For example, it is difficult for me to find coverage for shifts when employees are on vacation or when they are sick, to find employees to step up and take on new tasks, or to find volunteers to help organize fun events for our team. I’ve heard this term “quiet boot” and it makes me wonder if this is our problem. What is your advice?
Answer: The phrase “quiet resignation” is relatively new and refers to employees who are still performing their job duties, but not doing anything beyond the minimum expected for their job. These types of behaviors may include things like not volunteering to do anything extra, staying calm during meetings rather than presenting ideas, and entering and leaving the office at opening and closing times. If you’re seeing these types of behaviors, you may have a “quiet giver” on your team. And you’re not alone, some estimate that upwards of 50% of current employees show these trends.
While this pattern of behavior can be alarming, you can’t implement a solution without more information. Check with the employees you care about individually to see how they’re doing. Tell them you’ve noticed that they’ve been calmer lately (or any other negative behavior you’ve noticed) and ask them if there’s anything they need or if there’s anything they want to talk about. Questions like these can open the door to deeper engagement and understanding. Are the signs of burnout and lack of motivation a result of the work/work environment or are they due to stresses in the employee’s personal life that you have no control over?
If employee engagement concerns are work related, communication and communication are the way forward. For example, does the employee feel valued at work? Recognition differs from recognition in that appreciation is about the individual and not about the results that are achieved. Even when an employee makes a mistake, is he still valued as part of the team? Leaders play a critical role in developing the trust and relationships needed to show true appreciation for employees and teams.
Many employees also do not feel a strong connection to the greater focus of practice and work. They may feel like they are “a cog in a machine” and as a result have separated. In this case, recommit to communicating your vision and values for the organization and the role that each team member plays in that. Ask employees for their feedback on how things can be improved and encourage managers/prospects to do the same. Empower employees to handle duties that may be outside of their primary responsibilities and let them know that you believe they can make judgment calls that are in the best interests of practice and patients.
Continue to have one-on-one meetings with your team. The most successful managers/supervisors check in at least 15-30 minutes per week. This ongoing communication promotes relationship building, frees up time to see how things are going — at work and at home, and shows the employee that someone in your clinic cares about their success. As humans, we are social animals, looking for connections to help us understand our place in the world and achieve satisfaction. This approach will help you create a positive company culture, reduce the amount of quiet take-off behaviors you encounter and improve employee morale and engagement along the way.
Written by Jodi Schaeffer, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Human Resource Management Services, www.WorkWithHRM.com