Business leaders are growing increasingly concerned over a troubling trend known as “quiet quitting.” This is when employees perform the bare minimum of their duties to get by as they plan their prolonged, but eventual exit. Although quiet quitters can negatively affect a business in any department, perhaps the most damaging examples can be found in the IT department. Here’s a look at the impact of quiet quitters in IT, why it’s occurring, and what you can do about it.
When IT Services and Operations Slow to a Crawl
Within the IT department, employees serve one of four distinct faculties. For each of these roles, I’ll point out how quiet quitters can cause a harmful ripple effect on the entire organization.
1. Those who service the needs of employees -- These are professionals that operate in customer/employee-facing IT service desks. When employees have questions or problems with enterprise technologies, these IT professionals are commonly the first point of contact. All onboarding and offboarding duties also fall under this role. Thus, quiet quitters here can have an immediate impact for employees that require any sort of technical assistance as any significant delay in technical assistance can disrupt business operations across the entire business workflow chain.
2. Those who research and design technologies -- IT architects are the ones that seek to solve existing problems with current business processes or look to technology to facilitate new business goals. While this group of IT employees may not have a direct impact on day-to-day business operations, these quiet quitters can do the most long-term damage on future business growth. Delayed technology projects can hinder a businesses ability to gain competitive advantages, ultimately eroding future revenue.
3. Those who integrate technologies -- These are network, server, security, and cloud engineers that integrate technology solutions based on architectural designs. When quiet quitters fail to address new technology build-out requests, business goals and expected revenues can slip in the mid-term.
4. Those who perform ongoing infrastructure maintenance – These are server/cloud, security and network operations staff that are responsible for maintaining production environments by ensuring hardware/software is patched, operating efficiently and free from security vulnerabilities.
As we know, most business processes these days have become digitized. Quiet quitting ITOps staff that are slow to respond to bug fixes, feature enhancements and security flaws can significantly impact business efficiency in both the short and long term.
Why Is Quiet Quitting Such a Problem These Days?
It’s important to understand that quiet quitting is not something new or revolutionary. Rather, the issue has simply grown due to a lack of management readiness as it relates to newly implemented work-from-home policies. Now that employees are working remotely -- and often in asynchronous work environments -- management has failed to adopt to these changes from a management support, accountability, and collaborative perspective.
Because of this lack of proper management and vision, employees are more likely to grow dissatisfied with their current role and feel that they want something more. However, due to a gap in visibility and accountability, these people are in no real hurry to find something new as they know they can likely “phone it in” for a longer period without repercussion.
How to Address Quiet Quitting in the IT Department
There are several ways to get a handle on the quiet quitting phenomenon, so it does not have a lasting impact on current or future business operations. The first task is to readdress remote work policies and ensure that there are processes outlined that management could use to keep track of individual employee task and progress metrics. This will help to baseline productivity across the board and quickly identify those employees that seem to be slipping. Once policy is in place, the right tools must be deployed that allow for improved communication, documentation, and project status within the various IT roles. This includes the use of voice/video software, collaboration tools for individual and team-based text communication, project management software and presence/time-tracking services to identify who is online at any given moment.
Keep in mind, however, that the monitoring of employees can be taken too far. While tools exist that monitor and log every keystroke and mouse click, in most circumstances, this is not necessary and counterproductive. Instead, tools should be used that facilitate communication, documentation, support and generally aid employees instead of surveilling them. This allows for the right balance of performance insight without being overbearing.