By the Hapkey team

What should you do about Quiet Quitting? Write Psychological Contracts with your team

Post by
Elia Mihuta
What should you do about Quiet Quitting? Write Psychological Contracts with your team
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There is so much going on in the world right now. And truth be told, this momentum of events has been around for a couple of years. Therefore, it's no wonder our minds are simply too weary, too tired to focus. The result? We end up being labeled as quiet quitters. And the harsh reality is that more than half of the American workforce falls under this umbrella. 

Since this trend gains more traction by the day, we want to add some more insight to the discussion. We want not only to explain the meaning of quiet quitting but also to offer a potential remedy. But let's take it one step at a time.

Suppose this is not the first time you hear of quiet quitting, but you can't put your finger on the notion. Simply put, the term describes a situation in which employees come to work and do their jobs but don't really go that extra mile. Now, many human rights advocates would claim that it's absolutely nothing wrong for people to do just what's stipulated in their contracts. They would also say that employees shouldn't work after hours or take on tasks that are not within their attributes.

And before anything else, we want to state that we would never support work taking entirely over one's life. However, we believe that to keep a proper professional-personal balance and enjoy life with all that it offers, individuals need to improve all their skills. As Dan Pink stated in the book “Drive - The Surprising Truth On What Motivates Us,” it’s about Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. And in this case, mastery means taking the initiative, turning wheels, making things happen, and – most importantly – growing. And that can't be done from a quiet quitting position.

With all this on the table, we want to ask you, the reader, the following - what can organizations do to address this wave of quiet quitting? More importantly, what can you as a manager do to prevent your employees from becoming quiet quitters? Because it's not like you could stop the world spinning, avoid an impending recession, stop the war or cure any disease that may come around. No. But you can look after your team members. And the first step in doing so is to make sure that not only their work contracts are being respected but also their psychological ones.

If you haven’t heard of the term psychological contract, you should not feel bad about it. As a matter of fact, it's not a notion that many people talk about. Yet, it's something that, in one way or another, we all sign when we start a new job. 

To translate Denise Rousseau's definition of the concept, it is safe to say that a psychological contract is the foundation of employment relationships. Simply put, a psychological contract comprises employees' beliefs about the reciprocal obligations between them and their organization, essentially the expectations between the employer and the employee and vice versa. The norm is to have the onus on the employee, not the employer. Employees have obligations, but what are the obligations of the employer, other than signing the paycheck?

Because let's get straight to the point. More often than not, people start a new job with enthusiasm. They want to make a difference, get noticed, and get promoted. But if time passes and the organization doesn't return any of their expectations, these employees feel that their psychological contract has been violated. On top of this, they are subject to the negative external factors that affect us all. Long story short, at the end of the day, they don't see the need to give their best. 

The conclusion? Each of these disappointed employees become quiet quitters.

A journal article by Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison and Sandra L. Robinson really resonated with our thoughts on the matter. In their paper called When Employees Feel Betrayed: A Model of How Psychological Contract Violation Develops, they state the following: 

"The organization, as the other party in the relationship, provides the context for the creation of a psychological contract but cannot, in turn, have a psychological contract with its members. Organizations cannot perceive, though their individual managers can themselves personally perceive a psychological contract with employees and respond accordingly."

Thus, an actual study backs up our claims and stands as a pillar for the advice we want to offer today. 

In a nutshell, there is only one person who has the power to ensure your organization's well-being. There is just one person that can stop the quiet quitting movement from within. And that person is you, the leader. 

So, our advice for today is to take on your leading role and be the one that mirror’s your employee’s struggles. Don't think that just because people do what they are supposed to, they are happy in their position. And unhappy employees lead to lower performance. This is why it is essential that you sign, seal and deliver the psychological contracts of your team members. Only by doing so can you put a stop to their frustrations. 

Now, we know that psychological contracts are unspoken and unconventional. This means that applying templates is impossible as each employee-employer relationship is unique. However, some patterns can be used. And that's why we created the Hapkey Psychological Contract Framework

For more information on the matter, we suggest you check it out, understand more about the notion and work around it in any way you see fit.

So, how many steps towards a fulfilling psychological contract did you take today?

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