Quiet Quitting is when employees who used to go above and beyond at work now do the bare minimum required and engage in work-related activities solely within defined work hours.
Quiet Quitting is not new, this has gone on forever, except it used to be called ‘presenteeism,’ prior to Covid. Presenteeism is lost productivity that occurs when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace because of an illness, injury, or other condition.
When you look at the two definitions you will notice the common denominator is ‘CHANGE.’ If you were to do a quick google search on the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and mental health challenge everything points towards ‘CHANGE’. Quiet Quitting, Presenteeism, or whatever you want to call it are once high-performing people who have started to ‘change,’ and lose productivity due to struggling with mental health concerns.
The big difference between when loss of productivity happened prior to Covid and after Covid is due to the drastic increase in mental health concerns. For no reason at all, there is no connection being placed between 'Quit Quitting' and the mental health pandemic we are all experiencing. The decline in productivity is directly correlated to the decline in the mental health of employees.
This perspective is coming from someone who has survived an extreme Mental Health Challenge. I can assure you that the first thing that happens is 'CHANGE,' and for everyone it is different. My symptoms were obvious to me, as a mental health professional, but not to the untrained eyes around me.
Here are some obvious ones that happened to me:
🔹 Turning off cameras on virtual calls (hiding)
🔹 Not communicating with team members unless I had to
🔹 Not having as much fun as I used to in meetings (shutting down)
🔹 Here is a big surprise... limited desire to do anything but the bare minimum
🔹 Hiding in the bathroom
🔹 Avoiding spending time with family and friends
🔹 Not attending family gatherings I used to attend
🔹 Doing my regular activities but with absolutely no joy
🔹 Going to bed early and getting up early so I could be by myself more often
Here I was a mental health professional, I knew that something was wrong, and I knew exactly what to do about it, but I didn’t take the necessary steps.
Why? Stigma! This is what Stigma looks like.
The list is miles long, you first have to admit that you aren’t strong enough, then you need to take time off of work, then you need to take medication, then you need to advocate for yourself to get the psychological support you need, then you have to talk about what is taking you down and you don’t know how to even describe it, then you have to communicate with work about going back to work… knowing that they know you are off on mental health leave, then you have to brave going back to the office when you know everyone knows but won’t say anything.
In summary, if you are witnessing a person, you think is lazy, burnt out, using the system, or whatever comes to mind, and they are also exhibiting symptoms from above, this is a ‘RED FLAG’ for help, and you need to do something.
If you don't know what to do, just say this, 'You are not the same as you used to be, Are you ok? Are you really ok? Are you thinking of harming yourself?' If yes, then walk this person to the phone and get someone on the line for them to talk with, and don't leave until this person has the support they need.
Take it from me, high performers do not choose to change, they are forced to change, forced by their own diminishing mental health. And the next thing these high performers may be thinking about is 'Quiet Quitting' in life. I was always asked, do you think about taking your own life, my answer was always the same, "No, but I completely understand why people want to." Get this person some help, they need it, and they may not even know it!