It didn’t take long for stressed-out employees across the country to identify with the newly discovered concept of quiet quitting—a buzzworthy work trend that actually has deep roots in work culture.
When employees are physically and emotionally exhausted from back-to-back meetings, grueling project deadlines, and hazy career growth, working less becomes an essential form of self care. But quiet quitting is only a momentary band-aid for a growing workplace wellness problem that still leaves six in 10 workers feeling disengaged and overworked.
So what can organizations do to take the burden off employees and turn this pervasive trend around once and for all?
In order to create a work environment where employees find their work to be meaningful rather than quietly indifferent, employers should focus on fostering a culture of quiet thriving—where personal values are aligned with company values and growth is a guarantee. When employees see a clear path for advancement and feel that their organization is invested in their growth, they are more likely to be engaged and committed, with 73% reporting higher job satisfaction.
To understand what employees actually need to thrive in the workplace, let’s examine some of the key factors leading to quiet quitting in the first place.
Quiet Thriving: An Alternative to Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitting is often defined as a state of disengagement and lack of passion exhibited by employees, resulting in far-reaching consequences for both workers and companies.
And while quiet quitting has been a concern for employers long before the name was coined, it points to deeper mental shifts in the workplace—where employee engagement and wellbeing are becoming increasingly interlinked.
Even now, at the tail end of 2023 and heading into 2024, Gallup estimates that quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce, while 68% report feeling unfulfilled at work. Between rising financial stress due to inflation, rising interest rates, and unmitigated debt as well as high levels of employee burnout, many workers feel quiet quitting is the only option they have to set boundaries and protect their work-life balance.
Quiet thriving, on the other hand, provides a hopeful alternative—one in which employees and employers work together to establish healthy work boundaries and achieve mutually beneficial goals. So what can employers do to set their employees up for success so they turn from quiet quitting to quiet thriving?
What Helps Employees Thrive in the Workplace?
Rather than labeling frustrated, burned out employees as quiet quitters, it’s more productive to see them as quiet survivors. After all, many of these employees don’t have immediate plans to hand in their resignations, but they are resigned to simply getting by—and the reason is rarely that they’ve given up.
More often than not, a worker in a state of survival is not having their needs met, which means they don’t have the capacity to go above and beyond. But what are their needs?
To empower workers to do their best, employers need to ensure they’re approaching employee wellbeing from a comprehensive, holistic perspective.
Physical wellbeing is often where many employers start when considering the health of their employees—and for good reason.
Regular breaks for physical activity and nutritious eating can have great benefits for employees’ overall wellbeing. In addition to healthcare benefits and other medical resources, providing this level of support for employee’s physical wellbeing can help them thrive by driving behavior change and leading healthier lifestyles.
Mentally and Emotionally
Mental and emotional support is absolutely essential for any quiet thriver. According to McKinsey, almost 60% of all employees report facing mental health difficulties on a daily basis.
For employees to thrive in this area, employers must foster a supportive and inclusive environment where psychological safety and open communication are always welcome and support resources are easy to access. By providing a strong foundation for mental health and emotional wellbeing, employers can set their workforce up for success and resilience.
Employees also need to have plenty of opportunities to socialize—both inside and outside the workplace. Flexible work schedules can help with this, but employers can also focus on creating more opportunities for authentic communication and collaboration.
Team-building activities, mentorship programs, or even just social events are all excellent ways to help foster a sense of belonging and community in the workplace.
Nearly three-fourths of American workers feel incredibly stressed about their personal finances—and over 60% report living paycheck to paycheck.
While not every business can increase worker wages, there are other ways to support employees facing financial stress, such as exploring flexible spending accounts (FSAs), parking reimbursements or lunch perks, or financial education opportunities.
The workplace is where employers have the most freedom to support their employees’ wellbeing. To set employees up to thrive in their current positions and overall careers, employers can encourage a healthy work-life balance and boost employee engagement by providing opportunities for personal growth and professional development.
Finally, the last dimension of holistic wellbeing is the most vital to quiet thriving. Employees must have a purpose if they want to combat burnout—whether it’s personal or professional. They want to know that their work has meaning and a real impact on the world.
Company values and mission statements are crucial in this area, codifying the organization’s guiding principles to help show employees the purpose of their work.
Wielding Wellness to Help Employees Thrive
Now that we understand the connection between holistic wellness and thriving employees, what are some specific actions employers can take to reinvigorate workforces and foster a team of engaged employees?
Here are a few time-tested results to help any quiet quitter become a quiet thriver:
1. Block Off Time to Rest, Stretch, and Recharge
To ensure employees have enough time to recharge their batteries during stressful project weeks or back-to-back meeting days, encourage them to block off time on their calendars to focus on their physical wellbeing.
Whether it’s a quick stretch break, a short walk around the block, or a 20-minute yoga session, allowing employees to make time for their physical health can improve cognition, memory, focus, and mental acuity, helping them bring their best selves to work.
2. Offer Mental Health Time Off
Just like a bad cold can sneak up on employees, so can burnout. Providing time off for mental health is another concrete step employers can take toward fostering a culture of quiet thriving.
In addition to other support resources, the ability to take a day off for self care can provide employees with the time they need to focus on themselves and return to work refreshed.
3. Build Social Connections
Employees might be working together on a daily basis, but are they really connecting with one another?
Organizing team-building activities can help combat feelings of isolation, while social events offer a unique opportunity for workers to interact in a more casual setting. For instance, you can host game nights or company dinners, and on a more regular basis, incorporate more short breaks during the day for catching up with coworkers.
4. Provide Free Financial Assistance Resources
Personal finances can be a sensitive topic for some employees—but free financial resources like budgeting workshops offer an easy, non-judgmental way for your workforce to minimize their financial stress. These programs provide the essential skills and tools employees need to save, budget, manage debt, invest their earnings, and plan for the future.
By boosting their financial wellness, employees are able to focus on their work instead of their bank accounts.
5. Encourage Professional Development
Without a clear path in their career, it’s easy for employees to lose interest in their work and gradually reduce the effort they put in.
From training and skill development to career advancement opportunities, employees need to know that their work will get them somewhere. Providing mentorship opportunities is a great way to offer professional development while encouraging greater communication and collaboration in the workplace.
6. Align Organizational with Personal Values
Finally, you can help instill a sense of purpose in your employees by promoting and demonstrating your organization’s core values and mission.
For instance, if one of the guiding principles of your company is giving back to your community, you could host a volunteer day where employees can choose how they give back. Not only does it showcase your organization’s commitment to your core values, but it also provides employees with purpose through meaningful actions.
Workplace Wellness Done Right with WellRight
Want to learn more about how a holistic workplace wellness program can turn quiet quitters into quiet thrivers?
Reach out to WellRight today.