The True Opposite of Quiet Quitting: Hiring for Natural Talent

Talent Plus Talent Plus

May 30, 2023 Blog Engagement
Two engaged employees at work.

Feeling tossed about by the latest trends in the job market? It seems like people were just starting to quiet quit. Then suddenly they were rage applying before getting a loud firing. 

What’s going on? Who can keep up? 

Actually, you don’t have to. 

When you select for natural talent and engage with them in a positive way from day one to day 601, you can weather all sorts of workplace trends. Because talent is timeless.  

Let’s explore some of the latest workplace trends — and their natural antidote. 

The Quiet “Quitters” Have a Point

Ironically, it was loud and clear at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 that quiet quitting was a trend worth watching. But there’s actually nothing novel about it. 

Call it a reaction, job or industrial action, tactic, strategy, or coping mechanism — quiet quitting ultimately results in reduced productivity, low workplace morale, and in extreme cases toxic or hostile work environments. In other words, nothing good. For anyone. 

In fact, as a work epidemic that seems to have emerged from the global pandemic, quiet quitting could be a direct result of that terrible experience and a way to personally address burnout, post-traumatic healing, and a new lease on work life. 

Or it could just be decades of poor management. 

Employee disengaged and quiet quitting at work.

“What I’m bothered by is the label: Quitting seems like a decidedly derogatory, adversarial term for situations like these,” says Jim Detert. “Why not call [these workers] calibrated contributors — employees who are rationally matching their effort to what they get in return?” 

Talent Plus’s Scott Whiteford understands. “It is the responsibility of the leader to remain in strong contact with team members,” he remarks. In other words, relationships matter. 

If leaders listen to employees’ desires and needs via Career Investment Discussions (CIDs) and “take the time to map out a successful career vision for their employees,” says Whiteford, employees are more likely to be engaged rather than quietly quitting. 

YOU’RE FIRED! vs. Shhh. You’re Fired

Whether employees are arriving later and later each day, showing less and less interest in their roles and tasks over time, or rigidly adhering to expectations — doing no more or less than what is required (also known as “work to rule”), they’re likely expressing valid concerns. 

But if a CEO doesn’t take the perspective that employees’ calibrated contributions are a cry for a little more respect and flexibility, loud firing may be the pushback. 

As Arwa Mahdawi points out, if you work for a “megalomaniac [such as Twitter’s Elon Musk] who will cut you dry without a second thought,” you might get culled no matter how hard your work. Loudly. Publicly. In a tweet or an email delivered at 2 a.m. 

If the culling comes on quietly, an employee might slowly stop getting feedback and appreciation, be overlooked for a raise, be excluded from meetings, or get assigned more and more mundane tasks. 

“[Quiet firing] works great for companies . . . eventually you’ll either feel so incompetent, isolated, and unappreciated that you’ll go find a new job, and they never have to deal with a development plan or offer severance,” explains Bonnie Dilber. “Or your performance will slip enough due to the lack of support that they’ll be able to let you go.” 

While a certain amount of regular turnover is normal, it’s still important for organizations to foster a positive culture in which talented employees can trust leaders. Showing appreciation and giving feedback where it’s due fosters that trust and helps employees feel secure enough to stick around. 

Take That! Applying With a Vengeance

But before a Gen Z employee walks out the office front door, they’re likely to “rage apply.” The content on this topic trending on platforms like TikTok tends to cast creators as the victims in their own narratives — which makes it easy for colleagues of older generations to roll their eyes at their younger coworkers. 

The truth is, most people — of any age — don’t rapid-fire “Apply Now” to 20+ jobs on a whim. 

This might seem like a knee-jerk reaction. But that’s not usually the case, says Scott Whiteford. Instead, it’s a last-resort action brought about by a persistent sense of unhappiness and unfulfillment at work. “If leaders create strong relationships with employees, have regular conversations about their wishes and goals, and practice ‘rounding’ — stopping by to chat with no objective in mind,” he says, “there’s likely no reason for employees to resort to this.” 

It’s understandable for employees to reach a tipping point in a job they’re not well-suited for. But, if leaders hire employees with the natural talents for their role and invest in them from day one, these employees won’t need to resort to this at all. 

How’d You Like to Try This Too?

On the other end of the quitting-firing-applying continuum is what appears to be the oasis of quiet hiring.  “Quiet hiring happens when an employee takes on a new role and responsibilities within their same company, either temporarily or permanently, due to need,” explains Robin Madell

If your employees are eager to grow or get a raise, quietly assuming another position might sound perfect to them. 

If you’re an employer faced with inflation and limited resources, quietly hiring from within might look like cutting the costs of recruiting and retaining new employees. 

Win-win. Right? 

Madell continues, “According to a new Monster survey conducted in January 2023, 80% of workers polled have been quiet hired, and half of them say their new role wasn’t aligned with their skill set.” It’s not all that surprising, then, that misaligned skills, talents, and roles can lead employers and employees right back to the spiral of quiet quitting, firing, and rage applying. Rinse and repeat. 

Quiet quitting, loud or quiet firing, rage applying, landing in a new job that quickly becomes a scene in The Great Regret, and even taking on a new role while juggling the old one (hello, burnout) are not ideal for businesses or employees. Everyone loses. 

Standing the Test of Time

Yes, it’s been a tough few years. We’ve endured an extended period of “unprecedented” experiences affecting every sphere of our lives. But what helps us weather the inevitable storms hasn’t changed. 

An organization with integrity adheres to ethical principles like honesty and possesses the raw materials of talent, engagement and development

Trends, by definition, mean sudden shifts in a general direction. At least, for a time. But they don’t last. Before long, “Z is the new Y!”  

Organizations of all sizes and kinds can be proactive by ignoring hashtag trends and keeping their focus on growing a culture deeply rooted in natural talent and employee involvement. That’s what stands the test of time.  

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