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Hot Topic: are buzzwords like 'quiet quitting' harming the workplace?

Understanding the line between preparation and scaremongering can be a challenge. The current recession, for example, was discussed long before it arrived, with HR left to figure out when best to discuss it with employees.

Trends such as quiet quitting have also started new conversations about morale and productivity. But does media speculation about these trends increase the likelihood that they come true?

Buzzwords in the workplace

HR analytics: Demystifying the buzzwords

Ban the buzzwords

Buzzwords rife at work

Neil Hayward, group HR director, Novuna 

Phrases like these have just highlighted the importance of implementing an employee-first culture, ensuring colleagues feel valued and engaged, which is crucial to the success of the modern workplace.

Working practices implemented during Covid, such as hybrid working, have provided employees with more flexible and agile working options and these new working arrangements have heightened the challenges employers must address around physical and mental wellbeing to avoid burnout, but also how they need to adapt if they want to retain talent.

Delivering the best colleague experience possible, through professional and personal development opportunities, within a safe, welcoming environment goes hand in hand with maintaining and enhancing employee morale and ultimately retaining and attracting the talent required to achieve a productive workforce.


Anjali Byce, chief HR officer, STL

Research has shown how people respond faster to negative news. Trends like Great Resignation, quiet quitting and news of a looming recession have gone viral.

The human ‘fight or flight’ instinct is triggered, and risk mitigation measures are set in motion. This leads to a behaviour of frequent monitoring of news; more recently dubbed as doom scrolling.

The best way to steer clear of these trends is for HR to keep its ear to the ground. Listening organisations gather information on employee and market sentiment, pay attention to employee concerns, act on them and circle back with feedback. This ensures that uncertainty and ambiguity have no place.

Additionally, closed-loop communication diffuses the risk of misinformation by keeping staff informed through data-backed insights rather than broad-brushed assumptions.

HR professionals and leaders need to connect, calibrate and communicate to stay anchored, build positivity, resilience, and not be impacted by the compounding effects of negative headlines.


Scott Leiper, founder and creator, Learning Lab

I’m no fan of the language of hustle culture, nevermind the practice it breeds. The perception that people must regularly work more than their normal hours almost turns work into a competitive sport.

It feeds the belief that everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder and must work more to get the job done. This is a one-way ticket to a stressful and unproductive workplace.

When we encourage the hustle, we damage our people. If we want them to be fulfilled by their work, they need more time living and fewer extra hours working. Perhaps work/life balance could produce more productive cultures.

Maybe your system of stretch and progression rewards the wrong behaviour? Are we wrongly assuming that everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder? Positional velocity isn’t for us all. Some want to go deeper, more technical, multi-directional, and more diverse, with the goal of enriching their knowledge.

If the practice and language of hustle culture exist in your organisation, step back from it for a moment and consider what it’s breeding. If we don’t, burnout may be just around the corner.


Paul Taylor Pitt, founder and creative change consultant, Metamorphosish

The best HR teams I’ve experienced have had one eye on the past, learning from good (or not so good) experiences as well as one eye on the future, scanning the horizon to proactively prepare. The third eye (biology was never my strength) needs to be firmly fixed on the present, and what’s really happening in the organisation.

Triangulating those means we can see patterns, trends and outliers. Sometimes we’re right, other times not, but to be able to have those conversations with everyone in the spirit of inclusivity means we’re role modelling the fact that we are a part of the organisation, not apart from it.

Better to be having these conversations out loud and with our ears wide open than behind closed doors. Our gift is to have the skill to begin the conversations in a non-scary way that encourages people to participate rather than disconnect.