Quiet quitting isn’t what it sounds like. It is, however, another reminder of the importance of creating an outstanding employee experience in today’s competitive world.
Talent shortage. Employee experience. Burnout. There’s a new buzzword in town and it’s “quiet quitting.” The insurance industry has struggled with finding and keeping talent for a while now, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the industry’s reputation for holding onto an abundance of manual processes and outdated technologies.
If you’re concerned about employee experience or producer engagement at your insurance company, independent agency, or MGA (and if you ask us, you should be!) then read on to learn about the impact quiet quitting may have on your organization, and what you can do to avoid the negative business impacts of a workforce that’s disengaged.
What is quiet quitting?
What do you call it when an employee shows up, clocks in, does their work, and goes home? Many of us might simply call that “a job,” but thanks to hustle culture, the idea of someone simply doing what’s expected of them during work hours has now taken on a new name: quiet quitting.
The term “quiet quitting” is getting a lot of attention lately, thanks to its moment in the social media spotlight. The idea behind the phrase is that employees, tired of working endless hours in unfulfilling roles, and constantly going above and beyond their job descriptions with little to show for it, are setting boundaries about when they’ll work and what they’ll do.
So, unlike The Great Resignation, The Great Retirement, and The Great Reshuffle, employees aren’t actually going anywhere when they “quietly quit.” Instead of quitting their jobs, workers are simply quitting the practice of working more than their role requires.
Why are employees quietly quitting?
American workers have been through a lot over the last couple of years. The Great Resignation was only recently given a name but overall worker dissatisfaction has been brewing for much longer. Over the last 20 years, Gallup’s annual survey findings have shown the percentage of actively engaged employees hovering around 30 percent. At the same time, actively disengaged employees made up between 13 and 20 percent of the workforce. The remaining 55 percent (give or take) of employees were simply “there” – neither actively engaged nor disengaged.
While Gallup’s study shows employee engagement at an “all time high” of 36 percent in 2020, their data really means that if you look around your office, more than half of your colleagues and employees aren’t actively engaged in their work. That doesn’t seem like a great statistic to us.
It follows logically that employees who aren’t actively engaged are also unmotivated to work longer hours, take on extra projects, and otherwise work outside the scope of the job they’ve been hired for. Despite perhaps not wanting to, many employees have made a habit of doing just that – taking on additional work without additional benefits – for many, many years. Quietly quitting is just a way of saying employees aren’t as on board with the idea as they once were.
Is quiet quitting the same as presenteeism?
Presenteeism isn’t the same as “quietly quitting” but it may have been a precursor. American employees have for a long time made a habit of showing up to work when they probably shouldn’t have. Not wanting to be seen as slacking, employees across the U.S. push themselves to perform beyond their capacity on a good day, and to keep up with expectations even when sick, tired, or suffering.
Presenteeism is when an employee shows up to work physically, but can’t perform at their normal capacity due to a physical or mental challenge. Simply put, presenteeism is like coming to work with the flu. Sure, you can sit in meetings but, if you’ve got a fever and are coughing and sneezing, it’s hard to prioritize the meeting topic over your personal struggle.
Whether it’s an illness, injury, death in the family, financial troubles, or any other problem that occupies someone’s mind and body while at work, presenteeism happens when an employee doesn’t have the option to take time off to deal with other important issues. It also happens when they have the ability but make the choice not to take that time off. This ever-present fear of being seen as slacking and the obsession with going above and beyond one’s job role is the definition of hustle culture. Or as the New York Times refers to it, “performative workaholism.”
Is quiet quitting a problem in the insurance industry?
If something’s happening in the larger labor market, chances are it also impacts the insurance industry. And while quiet quitting itself may not be a problem – after all, employees are still performing their job functions – insurance carriers, agencies, and MGAs that want to earn a reputation for being a great place to build an insurance career should be concerned about employee satisfaction and engagement.
How can you prevent quiet quitting?
Remember, “quiet quitting” is a bit of a misnomer, since employees are still working and producing results for their employers. They simply are tired of overworking, often without anything to show for it. “But wait!” You’re thinking, “I want my insurance producers and other staff to show up and give 110 percent every day!” If that’s the case, then you’ll want to focus on things your organization can do to create the type of experience that inspires people to achieve peak performance.
Notice the signs of employee burnout
You can’t fix a problem you can’t even see. Pay attention to your staff’s state of mind for signs they may be experiencing burnout. Some employees, still engulfed in hustle culture, will keep pushing themselves beyond their breaking point. Train managers to recognize when people need a break, even if the employees themselves don’t.
Help employees achieve work-life balance
Whether through flexible schedule or location options, wellness programs to encourage self-care, or just a culture that prioritizes people and their wellbeing, you can get more from employees when they’re at work by making it OK for them to not “be at work” all the time.
For example, leaders can role model healthy expectations by not sending out emails after hours. Another tip is to not praise people for showing up to meetings when they’re on vacation, or coming to work sick. Instead, encourage everyone to set reasonable boundaries about their working hours and their own health. When people don’t feel like they have to grind 24/7 just to keep their boss happy, you might be surprised how hard they’ll work when they’re on the job.
Make sure your pay and benefits are competitive
Research shows what common sense tells us is true: People will give more to an organization they feel gives a lot to them. The science behind this comes from studies on perceived organizational support and the reciprocity theory.
If you want the most out of your workforce, make sure you’re offering them what they want and need in the way of pay and benefits. An employee who feels undervalued just isn’t going to keep over-performing forever. On the other hand, people who feel valued and appreciated (in other words, happier) have been shown to be more productive in research studies.
Provide the best possible experience using technology
Nothing ruins a good employee experience like constant computer crashes, difficult and outdated software, and re-entering the same information across multiple systems. If these are typically part of your producers’ onboarding process, you might have more than a “quiet” quitting problem on your hands!
Producers want to get onboarded and start selling fast. Being able to hit the ground running helps keep that new-hire enthusiasm strong, leading to quicker sales (and thus, commissions) that keep your producer team motivated.
Investing in modern technology can create a producer onboarding experience like no other. Carriers and agencies can gain a reputation for being forward-thinking and easy to work with. Not least of all, systems that relieve your team of manual and repetitive work can actually allow your staff to achieve a better work-life balance and greater productivity because their time’s spent on what matters (to them and you) – not on menial tasks.
At AgentSync, we can’t force your hardest working producers to take a mental health day. But we can make their jobs (along with the jobs of everyone who supports them) simpler by streamlining producer license compliance management.