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The Impact of “Quiet Quitting” on Engagement & Motivation

The pandemic has negatively impacted numerous people’s mental health and general well-being. Anxiety and despair have tripled since the epidemic began, affecting 31% of Americans, according to recent research by the American Psychological Association. Many people are now dealing with work-related stress on top of the emotional toll the pandemic has taken on them.

The Problem of “Quiet Quitting”

Nearly half of workers in a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management said they needed more drive to excel at their employment. “Quiet quitting” describes an employee’s gradual decline in interest and enthusiasm for their job. This can show up in various ways, such as an unwillingness to participate in team discussions, speaking out only when necessary, or remaining on mute in Zoom meetings. Leaving the team, talking only when necessary, and not speaking up during meetings are classic signs of low engagement and motivation.

The Role of “Learned Helplessness”

Why do so many employees seem uninspired and uncommitted to their jobs? “Learned helplessness” is one possible explanation. The term “learned helplessness” refers to what happens when someone goes through a traumatic experience in which their actions have no effect. As a result, they carry that attitude into novel situations where they have some measure of agency. In the 1960s, a psychologist experimented on dogs, shocking their hind legs with an electric current while held on an electrified platform. In time, the canines realized they couldn’t break free and gave up trying. More recent studies show that this idea also works for humans. When someone has a lot of bad things happen to them, their brain starts to revert to a default state of inactivity and laziness. This is often the case when a person feels their efforts should be more appreciated or they have little say over their working conditions.

Strategies for Promoting Motivation and Preventing Learned Helplessness

So, what can be done to promote and prevent learned helplessness in the workplace? Here are a few strategies that may be helpful:

  1. Motivate your staff to take care of themselves by requiring them to take breaks and relax. To keep their minds and bodies healthy, workers need time away from the office to rest and rejuvenate. A few minutes of your day to practice deep breathing or meditation will help immensely. Facilitating employees’ access to mental health services is also essential.
  2. Encourage a climate of trust and independence at work. Employees are more likely to be motivated and involved in their job when they feel they have some say over their work environment and the decisions that affect them. Employees feel more invested in their work if they have a voice in how tasks are assigned and managed. When their skills and interests are paused to prevent empty eyes from becoming discouraged, it is crucial to provide them with all the tools and assistance they need to do their jobs well.
  3. Provide avenues for learning within the current role. Organizations can boost employee motivation and engagement by funding their employees’ professional development, which conveys that the company values its workers and their efforts. Following completion, provide opportunities for growth and promotion within the company, such as promotions or lateral moves.
  4. Create an atmosphere of openness and acceptance at work. A culture where people are free to express their opinions and ideas can significantly reduce feelings of learned helplessness. This can be done in various ways, such as by constantly asking for staff opinions and facilitating straightforward dialogue between team members and upper management. Organizations can help reduce the emotions of isolation and powerlessness by promoting a culture of openness and trust.
  5. Appreciate and reward hard work. Positive reinforcement in the form of public recognition and appreciation for employees’ efforts and contributions has impacted their motivation and commitment to the organization significantly. Rewards and incentive programs, as well as public acknowledgment of good work, fall under this category. When employees are acknowledged and rewarded for their hard work, it sends a message that their contributions are respected and appreciated. PerkSweet’s employee engagement platform is an easy way to implement a culture of appreciate at your organization.

It’s worth noting that while these methods can help reduce the prevalence of learned helplessness in the workplace, it’s much more important for companies to fix any underlying problems that may be causing a toxic atmosphere. Stressors like excessive workloads or a lack of resources are among the many factors that can be addressed in this way. Ultimately, in the middle of the ongoing pandemic, the concept of learned helplessness can significantly impact employee motivation and engagement. The above methods can help businesses fight this trend and give their employees a more positive and inspiring place to work. Companies that take measures to reduce employee stress and burnout benefit their employees’ health and their bottom line. Not only are these techniques important for keeping employees’ mental health in good shape, but they are also important for keeping them encouraged and motivated.

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