“Quiet quitting” is a divisive topic in the world of work, but there’s no denying that it’s affecting employers. While some people say quiet quitting (the practice of doing only what your role demands and nothing more) is a way for employees to practice setting healthy boundaries, others say that when employees are essentially doing the ‘bare minimum’ it can backfire and have a negative effect on the business and other employees. In our latest Talent Index, 63% of respondents mentioned at least one aspect of their work had been negatively affected by quiet quitting. ‘Quiet quitting’ also topped the list of things that people felt could most damage company culture.
Whether a reasonable response or not – quiet quitting leaves work undone. How can businesses plug those gaps? It may require a different approach to thinking about how work is organized.
Whether skills gaps are created by employees who have left or employees who stay (but refuse to take on additional responsibilities), employers must be agile enough to fill the gaps strategically – without burning out current employees.
Unbundling the job
In order to understand the true effects workforce issues like quiet quitting, disengaged employees and resignations have on your business, you must first get a clear picture of the actual work that needs to be done – the tasks that form part of job roles.
Instead of looking at a role as one job with a specific description, deconstruct the job and look at it as a collection of skills that are needed. This makes it much easier to identify and confirm the specific skills you need, and you can focus on finding individuals who have the skills that you’re currently missing.
You can strategically hire candidates who have the skills you’re missing, or you can look within your organization. You probably already have employees who have some of the skills you need, or who have the desire and the potential to learn those skills.
Most organizations track this kind of skills data on some level, but it’s often outdated and inaccurate. Making sure your data is up to date is a good place to start because employers can’t hire strategically to fill gaps if they don’t know what skills they already have or what skills they are missing in their workforce.
Start by understanding the work that needs to be done – whether it’s disengaged employees or high turnover. By unbundling the idea of ‘the job’. you can start working on solutions to fill the gaps, re-engage your employees, and retain them long term.
Additionally, by unbundling the job, you can more easily match your employees to work they enjoy doing. Everyone has different strengths and preferences, so by breaking down jobs into smaller pieces, you are able to match the work to be done with employees who enjoy doing those specific tasks. This is just one way to keep employees engaged and motivated over time, which helps with retention as well.
Focus on diverse hiring
Studies show that teams that are more diverse perform up to 30% better than less diverse teams. If you have skills gaps created by either quiet quitting, resignations, or disengaged employees, consider diversifying your hiring strategy. Your business may be lacking representation from groups of people who might have the specialized skills that you are in need of.
Some examples of these groups could be military veterans, people from different cultures and backgrounds who bring unique points of view, retired workers who are looking to reenter the workforce, or early career talent who can be trained to learn new skills quickly.
Many employers are moving away from strict education and experience requirements, and are moving towards a skills-first hiring strategy. Hiring with the idea that skills should be considered first, helps to reduce bias in the hiring process. And reducing bias helps create a more inclusive environment, which is the kind of workplace that today’s top talent want to be a part of.
By focusing on diversity and inclusion in hiring, employers get the benefits of attracting and retaining top talent, while still filling key skills gaps and keeping up with changing business demands.
Encourage learning and development
Another way to address and fill gaps in your workforce is through learning and development programs. If you have broken down ‘jobs’ into smaller bits of work to be done, you can more easily offer new internal opportunities (gigs or new roles) to your employees who have become disengaged.
You may find that some of the skills your employees already have are easily transferable and can be applied in new ways. And other skills can be developed with a little extra training, which could open the door for possible promotions or lateral moves to a new department.
An internal mobility strategy like this allows employees to upskill, reskill and be mentored by others. Not only does this help to fill key skills gaps, but it can also keep employees engaged long term, which helps improve retention rates.
It’s important to distinguish that upskilling doesn’t mean that you should simply add more tasks on top of your employees current workloads, because this will only cause more burnout, quiet quitting and resignations. Learning and development should be seen as a win-win scenario for both employees and employers. Employees can learn new skills and take new roles, and employers keep their employees engaged long term.
It’s time for managers and business leaders to find new ways to fill skills gaps that don’t require adding loads of new work and responsibilities to their existing employees’ plates. They must consider a new way of organizing work to ensure it gets done, and consider how the right learning and development programs keep people engaged and motivated – and they need to think about how they can apply these solutions with agility, to keep up with changing business demands.
There are many reasons why an organization could be facing skills gaps – burnout, ‘quiet quitting’, resignations or even lack of diversity. But the important thing is to have a reliable way to identify those gaps, and be agile enough to fill them efficiently and strategically.