Hiring to combat ‘quiet quitting’ – Handshake response to Global Talent Economy Raconteur article

November 25, 2022

The phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’ can tell us a lot about the current jobs market and the changing way we think about work. The term has been subject to much debate, but most of it focuses on offering incentives in the present – rather than examining why so many people are in jobs that they don’t feel all that motivated to do.

For the uninitiated, ‘quiet quitting’ is where employees essentially take the view that they are not going to do anything outside of their designated working hours or job description. Essentially this sees people just getting by in their job rather than aspiring to achieve more for themselves – and their company.

Having a good work-life balance is key, but quiet quitting implies a lack of enthusiasm for work. This means it now sits alongside a wide range of risks to businesses as a result of instability in the labour market. Indeed, in many cases quiet quitting comes before a permanent exit.

Jump starting worker enthusiasm from the word go

A piece in the recent Global Talent Economy supplement from Raconteur suggests that revitalising worker enthusiasm is key to stemming this tide.

Faced with the possibility of reputational damage and even the potential to not have enough staff to effectively carry out business, organisations should be doing everything they can to bolster enthusiasm among workers – and that starts from first contact, right back at the hiring process. 

The article rightly points out a need to reestablish the ‘social contract’ between workers and employers that was damaged for many during the pandemic. But connections between employees that stretch across age groups and levels in corporate hierarchies are just as key – if not more so. This is particularly the case with data suggesting that many Gen Z are thinking about quitting their jobs altogether.

One useful strategy is to engage current employees in the hiring process. Here at Handshake we know how important it is for graduates to form strong connections as they start out in their career, so we facilitate this with the Advocates feature on our platform. If existing staff are the ones to reach out to potential hires before joining, and are able to share their experiences as part of a two-way dialogue, they can be real advocates for the company. What’s more, it keeps these existing employees engaged and enthused too.

Motivation – and square pegs for square holes

A recent survey from management consulting firm McKinsey looked at the legacy of the ‘Great Resignation’ and found that there were several different groups of people rethinking their careers. One typology, the idealists, tended to be aged 18-24 and emphasised their need for flexibility, career development potential and, crucially, meaningful work.

These goals and priorities show us again just how important thoughtful hiring is to retention and motivation. There is evidence that the use of skills correlates with job satisfaction. The first step to making this a reality is making sure that your early careers provision is supporting as many students and graduates as possible in understanding what jobs offer them the chance to use their skills effectively and leave them with a sense of purpose. 

That’s why it’s so important for organisations to make sure their job descriptions are communicating this to candidates. With experience having been particularly hard to come by during the pandemic, focusing on skills and potential helps the role resonate more with someone just starting out in their career. What’s more, it can be useful to capture the imagination of prospective new hires by highlighting the skills that they can learn on the job. This will excite them about the opportunity to grow professionally, again, boosting enthusiasm long-term.

Using skills – and paying the bills

But in order for organisations to bolster job satisfaction among students and graduates, and making them more likely to stay on a relevant, fulfilling career path, more needs to be done to help students articulate the skills they are developing – both in-curriculum and to employers. 

Currently, there is a disconnect between expectation and reality, as hiring based on qualifications means more than a third (36%) of UK graduates are overqualified for their job with an increasing proportion stuck in low-skilled jobs, according to CIPD. Similarly, there are understandable gaps in experience on the CVs of many young people as a legacy of COVID-19. All this indicates an increasingly urgent need for support that helps employers hire based on skills.

A focus on more skills-based hiring also makes strategic sense for sourcing and hiring the most qualified candidates – rather than relying on outdated ‘target universities’ lists, where your recruiting pool is limited, you can take a more proactive approach with a broader pool of potential employees.

While there are many societal and structural issues that contribute to the phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’, and indeed, the general instability in the jobs market in recent years, enthusiasm for work is a key element. But interventions early on can go a long way to boosting that enthusiasm.

Find out more about how you can adapt your early careers attraction and hiring strategy – and build a workforce with a sense of investment in their job