The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and Quiet Hiring among Frontline Workers

Recap: What was the Great Resignation?

The World Economic Forum defines the Great Resignation as a workplace phenomenon that took root during the pandemic, which saw a large number of fed up, burnout employees leaving their jobs en masse. The WEF also notes that the Great Resignation is proving to be the catalyst for a number of other behavioural traits that are emerging amongst workers across the globe.

In a 2022 survey detailing the “Hopes and Fears” of the global workforce, PwC states that the Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down and that many of the talent management issues now emerging can be traced to a disconnect between what businesses think their workers want and what is actually desired.

Job dissatisfaction, shifting priorities, remote work, and employee well-being are also common causes of the Great Resignation. In its wake has come the phenomenon of Quiet Quitting, which shares similar themes. While the Great Resignation involves a more noticeable and deliberate departure from a job, Quiet Quitting represents a quieter form of disengagement that occurs over time.

The Impact of Quiet Quitting and Quiet Hiring on Frontline Workers

It is important to note that there is not necessarily a single factor that causes this divide between workers and their organisations. It can stem from several factors, including:

1) Firstly, a lack of effective communication channels and transparency can lead to misunderstandings and mistrust between the two parties.

2) Secondly, disparities in power and decision-making authority can create a sense of powerlessness among workers and breed resentment towards employers.

3) Another reason for the divide between blue-collar workers and their employers is a lack of recognition and appreciation for their contributions. When employers fail to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of their blue-collar workforce, it can lead to feelings of undervaluation and resentment.

4) Additionally, the absence of opportunities for skill development and career growth can create a sense of stagnation and limit upward mobility, further exacerbating the division between workers and employers.

Some organisations have increased salaries or offered other financial incentives to keep staff and attract new one’s, but according Boston Consulting Group only 15% of frontline employees who resigned for new opportunities did so because of a higher offer. This indicates that frontline employees are not necessarily driven by pay increases, so businesses need to realign their strategies to improve engagement and overall job satisfaction if they are to retain existing talent and attract top new talent.

Quiet Quitting

Doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm is generally viewed as quiet quitting.

As a direct result of the disconnect between companies and their employees, the trend of quiet quitting has grown significantly over the last few years.

Because companies are often not always able to exactly define employee duties and responsibilities, poor role definition is regularly a factor in quiet quitting. Oftentimes, workloads are dynamic and require workers to go beyond the “call of duty”, taking on extra tasks that help the business retain a competitive advantage in its industry.

However, when employees only perform what is required of them, issues related to undefined duties begin to erode the established advantage while also placing additional pressure on workers that remain fully engaged (those willing to go the extra mile).

The Viability of Quiet Hiring

Quiet hiring is the practice of an organisation acquiring new skills without hiring new full-time employees.

One of the most popular efforts being undertaken by companies to combat quiet quitting is the process of quiet hiring.

In essence, quiet hiring can describe two different approaches – either hiring short-term contractors to fill gaps left by full-time employees or employing internal mobility (shifting workers to areas that need to be addressed without any changes in overall business headcount).

While hiring contractors is a self-explanatory solution, the ramifications of additional employee responsibility when it comes to using the internal mobility process should also be considered.

Frontline and traditional office workers all face burnout challenges and without proper engagement, communication and additional compensation for the new duties entrusted to them, quiet hiring can lead to further internal disruption.

Boosting Engagement and Combating the Great Resignation

Internal communication is a prerequisite for organisational success as it underpins organisational effectiveness. (Mbhele and de Beer, 2021)

While quiet hiring is an efficient way for companies to fill skill gaps, it should be established that without genuine engagement with employees, it will be challenging for businesses to properly apply quiet hiring strategies.

Finding Solutions to Combat the Great Resignation

To take effective action against the Great Resignation and its symptoms, businesses must strive to identify issues that impact employee engagement. These issues can include differences between company and worker values, as well as a lack of open and clear communication. In fact, Surveys of frontline workers have found that transparent communication is one of the key fundamentals in building strong employee engagement and it is therefore important that companies focus on this aspect.

  • Importance of Communication Channels

Organisations are often guilty of providing, or relying on, poor communication structures – thereby exacerbating challenges such as employee engagement and, ultimately, quiet quitting.

Businesses need to ensure that through their internal communication channels (software solutions and other centralised platforms) employees are correctly informed about their duties and what they can expect from their workloads.

  • Work Environments

It is estimated that, globally, some 38% of workers undertake some form of remote work during their working week. Broadly speaking this points to an embrace of remote work. However, these workers struggle with an inability to maintain a strong work/life balance (22%), feel lonely (19%) and struggle with obtaining clear communication from their employer (17%).

It is clear that many employees feel disconnected from their organisations in these environments and as this disconnect grows, so too can unproducitive work patterns on the part of employees.

Companies can counter this by creating positive settings where workers feel appreciated, have the ability to communicate (and receive feedback), and not feel undue work schedule pressure. Flexibility is very important in this regard, particularly for frontline employees who can’t work remotely. It can ultimately assist with internal mobility management efforts when high-priority situations arise.

  • Benefits & Career Development

One of the ways companies can address the Great Resignation is by offering previously inaccessible benefits to engaged employees. The technology giant Google has for instance taken note of those who quiet-quit and provided incentives to those who remain engaged.

For frontline workers, offering learning and development opportunities is often also a valuable tool in bolstering engagement, promoting career progression and helping retain talented staff.

The Great Resignation’s Impact on Frontline Staff Turnover and the New World of Work

Maintaining a positive and fulfilling employee experience is essential for organisations wanting to combat the Great Resignation.

In an environment where employees are being challenged by remote work, changing business landscapes, and the need to perform more work (often within the confines of a constrained resource environment), consultation and engagement are critical. Research reveals that when workers are thoroughly consulted about future scenarios that affect how they will work, they are consistently more positive about the impact on business outcomes. This could be because they were more engaged in the process and willing to embrace the positives, or because consultation resulted in better outcomes.

Therefore, in order to keep frontline staff turnover low companies should strive to improve communication at the very least. One way of doing this is through the implementation of a digital platform that enables organisations to communicate with frontline employees, sharing important information, messages and updates. Digital solutions that enhance communication should be a priority for organisations wanting to promote employee engagement, transparent communication and problem-solving.

Additionally, frontline work schedule flexibility should be examined, and steps taken that allow workers to have more control over their own work lives and shift schedules, and more options when it comes to paid leave.

Key Takeaways

Organisations face immense pressure in the post-pandemic workplace chiefly as a result of growing disengagement.

Companies can implement a wide array of strategies (improved internal communication strategy, the creation of positive work environments and flexible scheduling) that boost frontline worker engagement, encourage open communication and promote loyalty.

To combat the Great Resignation and bolster employee engagement in your business, talk to an expert.