SUSTAINING the motivation of people in the organization is like taking the bull by its horns. We often hear the saying, "What goes up, must come down." It is a fact that even the most highly motivated people can suddenly get unmotivated and see their high level of engagement suddenly plunge into very low depths. That is why the primary duty of leaders is to hold that peak performance at all times as well as ensure the dedication of people in the organization.

This undated photo shows employees working in their cubicles inside an office at an unidentified location. PHOTO BY DAVID MARK VIA PIXABA
This undated photo shows employees working in their cubicles inside an office at an unidentified location. PHOTO BY DAVID MARK VIA PIXABA

Today, the issue of motivation at work has become the subject of organization chatter including matters that prevent people from being productive.

Surely, stress and pressure from work has often been identified as the culprit, which was made worse by continuously working during the pandemic period. Another contributing factor to stress is having to adapt to the changing face of work. As Johnny C. Taylor Jr., the president of Society for Human Resource Management, puts it, "Remote work has caused severe burnout, Zoom fatigue, and made it harder for some workers to take breaks from home."

The heightened awareness on employees with diminished dedication to their work, which is largely caused by dissatisfaction and fatigue that yields inadequate performance and productivity, has led to the coining of the term "quiet quitters." One may not be aware that some people in the workplace are already on the path to becoming quiet quitters. Take for instance, the situation in schools, especially if, let us say, half of your instructors have already embraced the idea of just quitting quietly from their duties as educators, this would eventually lead to a number of problems that will ultimately affect both teaching and learning.

What does it mean to be a quiet quitter? This does not redound to an employee just quitting from work, but instead the employee has set certain boundaries at work and refuses to go above and beyond in the performance of his duties. "Could it be that 'quiet quitting' is an attitude or mindset that may be deemed revolutionary that tells us that this is how people should work or does it put an end to genuine dedication and hard work?" This question was posed by Aimee Picchi, a writer for CBS News upon interviewing CEOs. It seems that what people in organizations want now is to prioritize their overall well-being and preoccupations outside of work.

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It may also be true that the idea of success today is being redefined by quiet quitters. When success is no longer about an employee's contribution, which used to serve as the metrics of the organization's meritocracy. It will now be more about one's personal criteria of success, which means having enough time for one's self, feeling less stressed and having more space for a variety of options, which are based on one's feelings, not anymore how the organization assesses their employees' productivity.

When we look at such a phenomenon, we can say it has actually become an organizational malady, because it benefits no one. If not suppressed early on, it can seep into organizational culture until it becomes a very undesirable part of the institution's culture, which breeds less efficient and less effective employees whose output may be described as lazy or mediocre. This is definitely bad for the organization. Also, people in the organization will lose their sense of duty and their passion for life and one's professionalism.

When employers push the red button on this brewing culture among people in the organization, it is clearly an admission of a symptom of a very serious condition. People have been through a lot in the previous years as a result of the pandemic, thus responding to people's needs in the institution goes beyond merely performing mostly routine and compliance tasks. People in the organization want to feel more intensified engagements, compassion at work and real understanding of their leaders who should do things like they really mean it.

Leaders communicating with impact and those who exhibit a renewed purpose, and a vision for individual members and collectively as an institution, is what is necessary in any organization now. The few years that have passed might have caused individuals to be disoriented and organizations need to be devoted again in engaging people in seeking higher pursuits. This would require raising the bar in terms of relationships that involve having the ear to willingly listen to employee concerns.

It is the desire of extraordinary leaders that their people walk the extra mile in their commitment to do their jobs well, but organization leaders must take the initiative to be the first to walk that extra mile for their people.

Jesus Jay Miranda, OP is an organization and leadership studies resource person. He teaches at the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas and the Department of Educational and Leadership Management of the Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC-College of Education of De La Salle University-Manila. Contact him at [email protected]