‘Quiet quitting’ is now louder than ever – what can employers do?
21 Jun, 2023

Ncumisa Madinda, Member Solutions Executive at Momentum Corporate


Ncumisa Madinda, Member Solutions Executive at Momentum Corporate unpacks quiet quitting – a dangerous phenomenon that often masks underlying emotional and mental health issues. How can an employer upend this trend?


In today’s fast-paced and demanding workplace, a new phenomenon has arisen, shedding light on the deteriorating mental state of employees worldwide. Quiet quitting is real, and it is undermining our ability to succeed as people and as businesses.


While not a new concept, quiet quitting represents a subtle form of resignation where individuals disengage emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically from their work. This trend speaks volumes about the pressing need to prioritise employee wellness and address the underlying factors contributing to this rise in apathetic lethargy.


When employees disengage, productivity plummets, decreasing creativity, innovation, and overall performance. As these individuals silently suffer, organisations face the risk of losing valuable talent, resulting in increased turnover rates and decreased employee morale. This vicious cycle perpetuates a toxic work culture, hampering personal and professional growth.


Socio-economic fluctuations have played a significant role in the decline of employee mental health worldwide. The Mental State of the World in 2022 report revealed alarming statistics about the mental health challenges, with South Africa ranking among the lowest-scoring countries.


While socio-economic conditions contribute to declining mental health, specific factors exacerbate the situation. The burden of servicing and managing debt, rising inflation, interest rates, and the inability to afford basic necessities all contribute to mounting stress levels. Unfortunately, we have no shortage of those challenges right now.


Moreover, individuals approaching retirement often face the daunting realisation of inadequate savings, leaving them overwhelmed and helpless. These financial pressures create a breeding ground for mental distress, forcing people into a silent resignation from their work and life ambitions.


The current state of the global economy has further compounded the mental health crisis. Recent events, such as the European conflict and its ripple effects on oil prices, fuel prices, and food inflation, coupled with the weakening of currencies like the rand, have created additional strain. The implications of these economic challenges extend far beyond corporate boardrooms but can be felt there all the same. the collective weight of these crises can be uniquely felt on a personal level, yet this often goes unacknowledged in public discourse.


An often-overlooked aspect of the deteriorating mental state of employees is the energy crisis in South Africa. While the focus tends to be on its effects on businesses and industries, the impact on individuals should not be underestimated. Frequent power outages and uncertainties surrounding energy availability further contribute to stress and anxiety, leaving individuals grappling with personal and professional challenges. This is particularly true in remote and hybrid working environments. South Africans have more than enough reasons to quietly quit. But what can employers do about it?


To combat the quiet quitting trend and safeguard employee mental health, organisations must prioritise employee wellness.


Creating a supportive work environment will foster open communication, promote work-life balance, and provide access to mental health resources. Now is the opportune time for employers to encourage employees to take advantage of their available resources and benefits.


For instance, employees that form part of Momentum Corporate’s FundsAtWork programme have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP), which includes access to counsellors, doctors, financial coaches, and retirement benefit counsellors. These EAP programmes exist within most benefits programmes and are an easy resource to tap into to help employees overcome their challenges.


The quiet quitting trend serves as a poignant reminder of the deteriorating mental state of employees worldwide. By prioritising employee wellness and providing the necessary support, we can reverse this trend, fostering a healthier, more productive workforce thriving in a nurturing environment. Only then can we truly build a future where employees feel valued, engaged, and empowered to reach their full potential.





@Ncumisa Madinda
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