Nearly three years ago, we were introduced to the coronavirus. Now we have quiet quitting. Both are equally tenacious, and just when it seems we’re rid of them, they resurface in different forms. A few months ago, we learned about “quiet firing” and “quick quitting,” the first two variants of the quiet quitting trend. Now, there appears to be a new strain: “quiet constraint.”
This practice occurs when employees intentionally withhold valuable knowledge that could benefit their colleagues. According to a recent report by Kahoot!, 58% of corporate employees and 77% of Gen Z employees are hoarding information, contributing to a culture of employee disengagement.
As the #quiet hashtag trend rolls on, where will it stop next? It seems evident that it’s not going away any time soon, and we’ll continue to see clever alliterative terms describing workplace practices that have existed for years. Let’s look at what the future holds as we venture through the silent era.
Employees can try withholding information from colleagues, but word will spread quickly. Whether it’s knowledge they acquired through their own work, or information passed on to them by a current or former coworker, others will eventually acquire it too. And when they find out it was intentionally withheld from the team, they won’t be happy. This self-serving attitude will ultimately lead to feelings of animosity and resentment among coworkers, who likely won’t stay quiet for long.
Once managers learn that employees are hoarding knowledge that could benefit the team or company, they will have little choice but to confront them and find out why. After all, workers are paid for their contributions, and failing to contribute is grounds for dismissal. A one-on-one meeting should take place in which managers stress the importance of prioritizing the team over individual interests, hopefully re-engaging workers and communicating the value of a sharing culture. This may result in one of the following two outcomes.
Ideally, employees will realize that withholding info to the detriment of the team will work against them in the long run, hindering their chances for recognition, promotion, or future recommendation. As the old clichés go, together everyone achieves more (TEAM), by helping others you help yourself, no man is an island, and so on. Chances are that most employees will realize their mistakes and value their job and relationship with their coworkers enough to correct them going forward. Those who don’t will likely transition out of the department or company, leaving a more cohesive team behind.
There will always be the occasional outliers who will try to overcorrect. Whether out of spite or a genuine attempt to right past wrongs, some employees may start oversharing with coworkers, taking up valuable meeting time and inbox space with an overabundance of info, much of which will prove useless. Aside from the rare nugget of helpful information, this may leave the rest of the team asking, “Can we go back to not sharing?”
The quiet quitting trend is a genuine phenomenon, breathing new life into old work habits through the use of hashtags and TikTok videos. As tired as we are of hearing about anything “quiet” related to the workplace, we’re continuously reminded that what’s old is new again, and those old habits die hard. Fueled by the perfect storm of shifting workplace norms and viral social media posts, the #quiet hashtag trend goes on and on, reappearing each time we think we have it contained. Hang in there…this storm can’t last forever.