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What is ‘Quiet Thriving’ and can it address ‘Quiet Quitting’ and ‘Resenteeism’?

By 06/03/2023August 8th, 2023Employee Engagement, Employee Retention
Quiet Thriving and how it can address Quiet Quitting and Resenteeism

HR seems to be inundated with buzzwords at the moment. Somewhat understandably so, too, as the industry gets to grips with recruitment and retention problems. The employment landscape seems to be in a constant state of flux and thought leaders and influencers are regularly coming up with new HR jargon to concisely sum up the issues of the day. The latest example of this is ‘quiet thriving’, something which has been touted as a potential antidote to ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘resenteeism’ which has been affecting many organisations over the past year.

What is ‘quiet quitting’?

There’s a good chance you’ve at the very least heard of the term ‘quiet quitting’ by now, but if you’re not familiar with what it refers to, it describes staff members who carry out the tasks they’re paid to do, without taking on extra duties or going ‘above and beyond’.

Despite being a relatively new term, the behaviours and the reasons behind them that quiet quitting illustrates have likely been occurring in workplaces forever. However, since the pandemic-induced shift in the world of work, where the balance of power has dramatically shifted towards the employee, it’s now far more widely recognised as business and HR leaders become more conscious about creating working environments that are conducive to attracting and retaining talent.

What is ‘resenteeism’?

Imagine quiet quitting, but amplified. Resenteeism describes the feeling whereby an employee stays in their job despite feeling deeply unhappy and unsatisfied in their role.

This slightly differs from quiet quitting in that ‘quiet quitters’ are content to stay in their job while doing the bare minimum. ‘Resentiers’, on the other hand, are not content in their employment whatsoever but circumstances lead them to feel unable to leave. This could be due to fears around job security, cost of living, or a lack of enticing alternative opportunities.

As quiet quitting has entered more widely into the collective consciousness of the HR community, you may have become more aware of how to spot its symptoms among your employees and may even be actively on the lookout to identify and address them. The tell-tale signs of resenteeism are similar: staff become disengaged and less enthusiastic, may be visibly unhappy and you might notice a decline in the quantity and quality of their output.

HR challenges

What is ‘quiet thriving’ and could it be the remedy?

‘Quiet thriving’ is a phrase coined by psychotherapist Lesley Alderman in an article for The Washington Post, describing employees who take it upon themselves to make changes to their working day to prompt a change in their mental state, helping themselves to feel more engaged and feel greater fulfilment from their job.

The thinking behind this is that quiet quitting or resenteeism can become a vicious circle. There may have been external factors at work that cause a person to become disengaged, who then proceeds to do the bare minimum or exhibit other negative behaviours, but a prolonged period in that mindset is only likely to exacerbate the negative feelings and lead to lacking a sense of achievement and satisfaction, or eventually even reaching a stage of burnout.

Rather than making significant wholesale changes that can be daunting and difficult to sustain, quiet thriving consists of making small incremental adjustments that inspire passion and productivity. There is a multitude of things this could involve, from taking more short, fun breaks or building friendships with colleagues, through to celebrating and rewarding one’s own achievements or finding interest in a particular aspect of the job to take ownership of.

Can HR inspire ‘quiet thriving’?

HR can’t force quiet thriving to happen. By its very nature, as mentioned above, the onus is on the employee to recognise their issues and want to make changes themself. What HR can do, though, is look to identify early signs of disengagement that could suggest someone is a ‘quiet quitter’ or ‘resentier’.

Regular 1:1 interactions with employees are key. Having conversations in an informal, pressure-free but confidential setting helps encourage them to speak up openly and honestly about any concerns they have about work. From these conversations, HR professionals might consider suggesting ways in which the employee can incorporate more fun and engaging activities into their day, or have conversations to ascertain what the employee enjoys most about their work, or what they’d be interested in learning or taking more responsibility for. In essence, HR can help point an employee in the direction of things they can do to bring themselves greater enjoyment and satisfaction.

If you’re looking to address employee engagement in your organisation, you could benefit from a suite of engagement tools that Natural HR software has to offer. From pulse surveys to employee recognition tools, it equips HR with the means to monitor employee sentiment and address potential engagement issues before they develop into anything more serious.

If you’d like to see all this and more in action, book a free demo with one of our HR software experts today, or download our HR software brochure.