Disengaged millennial considers a more fulfilling career move.
By Remy Albillar

Solve quiet quitting in the hybrid workplace

The term “quiet quitting” is still dominating headlines and drawing commentary from pundits, journalists, and social influencers across every demographic spectrum.

The role of the workplace and responsibility of leadership are often overlooked during this discussion.

“For many, the first reaction to this term is ‘I’m not taking advice from TikTok’,” said Edward Wagoner, Executive Director of Digital Leadership at JLL Technologies. “But when you dig deeper, you’ll find data showing Gen Z and Millennial employees desire and expect a very high level of engagement from their managers and their workplace.”

What happens when those desires and expectations aren’t met?

“You’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” according to TikTok user zaidlepplin.

Today’s up-and-coming professionals are not giving up on the ideas of hard work, career success, and personal development. However, they are less inclined to sacrifice their mental health in pursuit of these goals and will instead leverage competitive job markets to find employers with more respect for their boundaries.

So, what can workplace strategy, HR, and IT decision-makers do to lessen the desire to quietly quit? It comes down to greater empathy for the pressures being felt by Gen Z and Millennial employees and designing a workplace that holds their attention.

Is quiet quitting the next generation of workplace malaise?

Near obsolete terms like “mailing it in” remind us that the idea of disengaging from your job isn’t new. Remember Dilbert and Office Space?

What is unique about “quiet quitting” is the external factors that have led to Gen Z and Millennials re-examining their fundamental relationship with their careers. These takeaways from Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey paint the picture in greater detail:

  • A significant number of Gen Zs (46%) and Millennials (47%) live paycheck to paycheck. This financial instability explains the preference for working remotely as this flexibility makes it easier to control cost of living or balance a second job.
  • Burnout is common among Gen Zs (46%) and Millennials (45%), many of whom are experiencing daily anxiety around global conflict, concerns about climate change, and sociocultural tensions.
  • Prioritizing opportunities for better pay and improved mental health, over half of Gen Zs (53%) and over a third of Millennials (36%) are expecting to change jobs within the next two years.

How can decision-makers stem another wave of resignations? Start by understanding why Gen Z and Millennials value hybrid working so highly.

“Most of today’s upper-middle management started our careers when the Internet didn’t exist,” said Wagoner. “Today, we’re no longer constrained by physical space. Younger generations grew up with this technology. Neither side is wrong. Both were right in their time.”

Intentional leadership draws people to the workplace

When considering solutions to quiet quitting, fixing gaps in the leadership model is an important first step that should not be ignored.

“We assume that because we have so much technology and so many solutions, we don’t have to manage people anymore,” said Fernanda Belo, Head of Workplace Strategy and Insights at VergeSense. “The office provides an enabling space where employees can be their best selves and develop, but it won’t work without effective leadership.”

Among the primary factors that attract Gen Zs and Millennials to pursue new careers include mentorship opportunities and a workplace culture that creates a sense of belonging. Companies that incentivize their people to attend events and provide them a venue to participate in conversations about the company’s future are also actively deterring them from quiet quitting.

Likewise, the in-person workplace is also the ideal setting for mentorship conversations and displays of intentional leadership. However, organizations must be willing to take on fresh approaches to connect with the same employees who are the most likely to disengage from their jobs. This could look like tinkering with the ratio of personal and collaborative workspaces available to employees or reskilling managers to better lead direct reports working in hybrid environments.

“Younger people are more engaged than you give them credit for, just in new ways and with technology that didn’t exist before,” said Wagoner.

Consider that outside of the workplace, Gen Z and Millennials engage with massive amounts of information via targeted communications and seamless user experiences. What if the same approaches were deployed by leadership to help employees feel more comfortable and maintain a healthier work/life balance?

Resources must be dedicated to building trust with younger employees in the arena of mental health and work/life balance. According to Deloitte survey:

  • Over half of Gen Zs (53%) and Millennials (51%) feel that their organization’s conversations about mental health are not contributing to real change around the workplace.
  • Equally troubling, over a third of Gen Zs (33%) and Millennials (35%) do not feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns with their managers.

“It takes a lot of work for organizations to communicate that they’ve heard employees’ voices and that they are making changes,” said Russel Duncan, Director of Product Marketing at JLLT. “One way to go beyond lip service is the application of technology that reduces stress in the workplace.”

Technology keeps employees engaged and coming back

Workplace technology should be thought of not only as a tool for organizations to maximize productivity but also as a platform for meeting the needs of employees. The same strategies used to build a thriving hybrid workplace naturally overlap with ways to combat “quiet quitting” among Gen Zs and Millennials.

For example, real-time occupancy counts measured by IoT technology are essential. Understanding exactly which days of week that certain people are more likely to visit the office can help improve the effectiveness of programming and events.

Going one step further, a way to show Gen Zs and Millennials employees the value of networking in-person is to ensure leadership and career development personnel are consistently available on the days they are most likely to show up. Occupancy technology can then be used to test the effectiveness of this approach.

“Organizations need a way to diagnose the exact causes and define data points around problems like quiet quitting,” said Belo. “Without a way to use tools like occupancy sensors to understand what’s going on, there’s no guarantee progress is being made.”

Workplace experience platforms are another valuable tool for building rapport between an organization and younger generations of employees. Trust is established when organizations provide employees with more flexibility in how and when they work.

“Some may prefer to spend more time in the office, some may find that doesn’t work because of where they live,” said Belo. “Giving them a choice shows the company really cares about their reality.”

Workplace experience platforms can do much more than help employees work from home or check-in safely at the office. Thanks to intuitive UIs and broad integrations, these platforms can put access to mental health resources and culture-building tools directly in the palms of Gen Z and Millennial employees.

Workplace technology must support all workers

Though the conversation around “quiet quitting” usually conjures images of administrative and corporate offices, the truth is that most of the people who work in the U.S. are not office workers.

And though there are business models where a hybrid approach is less strategic, those organizations’ employees don’t deserve any less consideration for their mental health. Thankfully, the same tools and technology can get the job done in these work environments as well.

Check out this on-demand webinar for more insights on selecting a workplace experience platform to establish trust with employees. We’d also love to connect with you and continue discussing ideas to end “quiet quitting” in your workplace.