Updated: May 15
By: Dr. Brittany Castonguay 27 Mar 23 #management
Note: The topic of quiet quitting runs much deeper than the social trend that has taken on its own hashtag and movement. To fully understand the phenomenon that has become quiet quitting, we must first establish how our society has developed to this point. Quiet quitting is a degradation of management, but to understand how I come to that conclusion, we must first look back at the theories that have developed business operations.
Human Capital Theory was first introduced in the 1960s and is a linear continuum that describes how industries can reach positive productivity measures. With a primary focus on education and professional development, Human Capital is the foundation for worldwide business operations. The longstanding theory also drove the societal need for highly educated employees. Another potential epidemic will be briefly discussed throughout this article. The continuum states a positive correlation between education, employment, earnings, and productivity. Ideally, higher-educated employees will gain desirable employment and be compensated appropriately, resulting in higher productivity levels.
The epidemic resulted from the United States push for higher education in the 1980s. Youth began going to college, which caused upward social mobility, and professional jobs grew, as did the demand for higher-educated employees. Forwarding to the present day, it has become the norm to require a college education and experience for what only sometimes equates to economic stability. The rise of technical jobs and certifications has yet to offset the mentality developed in the 1980s as a push for educated employees. Human Capital Theory still offers value and is a central aspect of why quiet quitting is a management failure. However, it does need to be noted that the business mentality that higher education equates to higher earnings which result in higher task performance, has yet to evolve to meet industry standards. A probable factor when considering the arguments for quiet quitting: modern business operations must adjust this continuum to include industry standards such as certifications and professional development.
Shifting away from theory, let us evaluate the social phenomenon that has become quiet quitting. Quiet quitting results from a lack of passion or desire to do any extra work. Quiet quitters are simply present in the workforce but often submit the bare minimum, sometimes even fluctuating between appropriate and poor task performance. These individuals keep their current job because they need the income but do not have any desire to put in additional work that goes beyond what is required of them. Quiet quitters fill a position in the organization but need more incentive to contribute positively to the organization and its culture. A quiet quitter is not inclined to stay late, show up early, or attend non-mandatory meetings. These citizenship behaviors that contribute to positive cultural reinforcement are absent in quiet quitters.
The 9-Box Grid
To understand how quiet quitters became such a dichotomy in the workforce, we first must consider the 9-Box Grid for assessing potential and performance. The 9-Box Grid is a development of the traditional 4-Box Grid and assists managers when determining an employee’s potential and performance and how they can best support their needs for professional development. In a traditional organization, the majority of the employees are Core Players. That is, they have medium potential and performance and are reliable employees who always complete assigned tasks adequately and without concern for their performance. Core Players are the heartbeat of the employee workforce, and every industry relies on them for continued operational success. The phenomenon that has become quiet quitters results in these Core Players falling out to become either Up or Out Dilemmas or Up or Out Grinders. Core Players need engagement and support to remain the reliable workhorse that we depend on them to be. Burnout and improper management have caused these lovable employees to fall out of grace and become undesirable Up or Out Dilemmas and Up or Out Grinders.