Quiet quitting is not what you think: Finding the right work/life balance

The popularity of flexible and hybrid working since the pandemic has brought down the physical delineation between work and home life.

Quiet quitting

The popularity of flexible and hybrid working since the pandemic has brought down the physical delineation between work and home life. Now, as the focus on mental health continues to grow, workers are wanting to take those boundaries back. 

This search for boundaries has resulted in “Quiet quitting”, another staple of workplace vocabulary describing when workers “vow to complete the tasks in their job descriptions within their contracted hours – and say they will not work beyond them.”. 

With workload stress and burnout remaining some of the top reasons for work-related health problems though, the desire to stay strictly within the boundaries of the job requirement is not a controversial one. 

Not paying enough attention to mental health can reinforce a detached relationship between employees and their managers. One in 5 UK employees revealed that they have taken time off work for their mental health, but almost two-thirds of them decided not to tell their boss the true reason for taking time out – making the implementation of better mental health strategies difficult amongst the ingrained culture of “grin and bear it” that British people are known for. 

Here are some leadership tips to ensure that your team is happier and more productive at work.

Home-ing from work: Prioritise time to recover

When a spring is stretched, it needs time to decompress back to its natural state. Humans are much the same. When we go through particularly busy periods at work, it’s essential that we get the opportunity to relax and release that pressure. Over time, if the balance isn’t right, just like a spring, we can get overstretched and check out of work completely.

In hybrid working, each individual has their own pattern of rotating from work to home life – with the two often blending together. This can fuel procrastination and burnout. To combat this, leaders must help employees view and prioritise their day differently.

This is where companies can use the “unscheduling” method, coined by psychologist and author of “The Now Habit” Dr. Neil Fiore. This reversed approach to weekly planning and prioritisation involves blocking out the activities that you would like to do first – whether it be taking your kids to school in the morning or going for drinks with friends. Then, you block out the activities that keep you happy and healthy, like getting a good night’s sleep, time in the gym or your 7-step skin routine. After that, you add in your work tasks. This way, people can carve out more time to release stress during the week and make more time for what keeps them happy and productive.

Giving employees more power: Enable a balanced work life

Taking an employee-focused approach to reducing stress, requires an environment where employees have a greater say in critical hybrid working decisions, like mandated office days. Leaders should be listening to feedback on what kind of environment employees need, especially to complete their core work for the week. Having this sense of autonomy and choice allows workers to play an active role in positive changes to their work life. 

Businesses should encourage policies that allow employees to meet their personal needs at home and create a work environment that allows them to feel more motivated in the office. This could look like utilising office time to set expectations for the week, using it as a place to encourage socialising and continuous feedback. Offering this physical space creates clear mental segregation when logging off. Giving employees greater flexibility should also come with guidelines for that freedom in a way that works for employees and the objectives of the business. 

Creating a space for vulnerability: Foster a safe space for open dialogue 

Well-being-focused work policies need a workplace culture that reinforces them. This year, with rises in the cost of living and unpredictable economic conditions, employees feel uncertain. Almost one in four people worries about their financial well-being every day. With these worries on the rise, leaders must look at ways to foster a safe space for open dialogue.

Creating space for this vulnerability means that, as a leader, it is your responsibility to respond well in the moments your employees need you most, no matter their individual situation. Doing this could look like giving advice, listening or sharing the appropriate resources available to them in a confidential way.

Leading with this human-centred attitude and having the skill to recognise and understand the moments when an employee needs help is an increasingly essential trait in a leader.

Putting mental health at the forefront of decision-making will give companies the opportunity to create an incredible culture that helps people maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal life. Companies that can nurture their workplace mental health strategy will not only see happier teams but more productive ones too. 

Naveed Malik
Naveed Malik

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