Setting Boundaries or Employee Engagement Crisis — Lionesses of Africa

by Kulani Shiluvah, Founder of Shiluvah & Chief Solutionist

Quiet quitting is the new hot topic in the human capital space and everyone and their aunty has their point of view, with the majority coming to two conclusions that quiet quitting is a result of an employee:

  • Setting boundaries with their work (chasing the elusive work-life balance we always talk about, or

  • The worsening employee engagement levels

So, what is quiet quitting and why is it causing such a global stir?

Simply put quiet quitting refers to employees only working their 9-to-5 (or defined working hours), no more and no less, finish and klaar. Within those defined working hours employees are still meeting all their obligations to their employers as per the employment contract, and job description, as well as meeting all necessary targets but, have stopped going over and above as the saying goes.

This is a significant change from the always-on, hustle culture that has been so prevalent within organisations all over the globe. Employees are deciding to sleep more, and spend more time with family and loved ones doing things that make them happy, rather than replying to that “urgent” email or compiling that report after hours. Because as we all have come to realize, 99.9% of the time those things can wait because no one is dying.

So, what does this mean?

Are employees learning to set boundaries between work life and life, or are we seeing employee engagement levels, which currently sit at 20% globally, drop?

I think the quiet quitting phenomenon has been a long time coming, especially in this post-pandemic era we all find ourselves in, as the realities of burnout, stress and other mental well-being issues were highlighted and taken a little more seriously.

In recent times we have seen the rate of burnout and other mental health issues increase, more so in women because as Beyonce says: “Who runs the world…?” (This is not to say that our male counterparts aren’t also going through the most – as the youth would say – because they are) because of this always-on, hustle culture we all embraced.

Employees are finally learning to set healthy boundaries between themselves and their work and believe it or not, this is a good thing as quiet quitting allows employees to fully engage in the workplace during working hours while taking the necessary time away from work to recharge.

So, in my humble opinion, the quiet quitting phenomenon is not only beneficial for employees themselves but also for the employer as it allows people in the workplace to:

1. Work to live and not live to work

Setting healthy boundaries between work life and life, life allows employees to show up in the workplace ready to be productive and produce what is needed from them at a rate that is far higher than when those healthy boundaries aren’t there.

2. Show up as their full selves in the workplace

Showing up as our full selves in the workplace means we can utilize the parts of ourselves that would otherwise be unavailable to benefit the workplace if we left our authentic selves at home.

3. Thrive in the workplace

So no, quiet quitting does not mean your team is disengaged and unproductive, employees can remain highly engaged and productive while they set healthy boundaries between their work lives and life, life.

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