Medical Content

Quiet Quitting in Physicians: A Brief Overview

Nov 25, 2022

Background

In recent times, quiet quitting has generated tremendous curiosity on social media.1 Technically speaking, quiet quitting is not tantamount to quitting one’s job. What it means is that the person who has decided to “quiet quit” is quitting the idea of putting in some extra effort at the workplace. Quiet quitters set hard boundaries and refuse to take on work above and beyond whatever is explicitly stated in their job descriptions. Although individuals who "quiet quit” continue to meet the demands of their job, they refuse to entertain ad hoc requests or become available at odd hours during emergency situations. Moreover, quiet quitters also tend to believe that it is entirely possible to adopt a minimalistic approach while remaining productive at the workplace.1

Current trends

Recent data clearly suggest that employee engagement has witnessed a sharp fall for two consecutive years across the U.S.1 For instance, during the first quarter of 2022, Generation Z and younger millennials reported an employee engagement that was as low as 31%. Nearly half of these employees identified themselves as "not engaged" in their workplace.1

On the positive side, data also indicate that certain organizations have witnessed a significant boost in employee engagement. For instance, Gallup's Exceptional Workplace Award winners averaged 70% employee engagement even during a highly disruptive 2021.2

Why are physicians quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting has recently started gathering momentum at various workplaces. It has been observed even at clinics and hospitals. According to experts, quiet quitters are not lazy employees. They are people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic-triggered social unrest and unpredictability.3

Nevertheless, this does raise an important question: Why has quiet quitting become so common in recent times?1 Although the answer is not relatively straightforward, there’s no denying that the pandemic has played a major role in amplifying the trend. According to experts, employees, including physicians and many others from the healthcare industry, have set firmer boundaries as a direct psychological response to the demanding environment created by the pandemic. The lines between work and home became thin during the pandemic and healthcare professionals feel the need to make up for this loss.1

Is there a meaningful resolution?

Having strong leadership can boost employee morale and halt the process of quiet quitting. Michael Dandorph, Tufts Medicine President and CEO observes, “I have people who report to me. I work for them, they don't work for me. It's not their job to make me successful. It's actually my job to make them successful.”3

Besides motivating employees, businesses can adopt several other measures to boost productivity.2 For instance, designing flexible working arrangements with an emphasis on employee wellness can send a strong signal across the organization. This not only boosts employee morale but also helps build trust in organizational leadership.

Effective change management also plays a critical role in halting the process of quiet quitting. Managers need to identify employee deficits and address them by introducing various types of training opportunities. This is particularly important when an organization is trying to adopt a novel approach in response to changing market forces.

Lastly, tailoring meaningful, accurate, and timely communication is of paramount importance. Reaching out to employees who feel demotivated, offering incentives for achieving milestones, and recognizing employees who put in extra effort go a long way in ensuring employee satisfaction.2

Conclusion

In summary, quiet quitting among physicians, healthcare workers, and other employees is a direct consequence of the recent pandemic. Some of the underlying reasons include burnout, unpredictability, and general unrest. However, this problem can be overcome by making certain changes to communication, management, and leadership strategies. Organizations that adopt these measures may, in fact, become successful in reversing the current trend.

Summary

  • Quiet quitting among healthcare professionals is a cause for concern.
  • Physician pain points need to be understood to reverse the trend.
  • Issue could be resolved using refined communication, management, and leadership strategies.

References

  1. Quiet Quitting: Are Physicians Dying Inside Bit by Bit? Or Setting Healthy Boundaries? [Internet]. Medscape. 2022 [cited 2022Oct20]. Available from: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/980682
  2. Harter J. U.S. Employee Engagement Slump Continues [Internet]. Gallup.com. Gallup; 2022 [cited 2022Oct20]. Available from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/391922/employee-engagement-slump-continues.aspx
  3. Llopis G. The Cure for 'Quiet Quitting': Humanize Work [Internet]. Forbes. Forbes Magazine; 2022 [cited 2022Oct20]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2022/09/21/the-cure-for-quiet-quitting-humanize-work/?sh=b622b7371127

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