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Quiet quitting: Leaders are under-skilled in nurturing talent - here are 4 things they need to do

4 lessons from the Quiet Quitting and the Meaning of Work panel at Davos 2023.

4 lessons from the Quiet Quitting and the Meaning of Work panel at Davos 2023. Image: REUTERS/Phil Noble

Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Gayle Markovitz
Acting Head, Written and Audio Content, World Economic Forum
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Future of Work

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • Experts at Davos say leaders need to change their response to younger generations' expectations around purpose and work-life balance.
  • In a session on Quiet Quitting and the Meaning of Work, panelists outlined ways to create a company culture that will engage and retain talent.
  • Here's a round-up of key takeaways from the session.

'Quiet quitting' began life as TikTok work trend geared around only doing what's required of you. Alongside the Great Resignation, it has come to represent the changing power dynamics between employers and employees.

Engaging and retaining talent was the subject of a session at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, where experts discussed how the world of work is changing.

The Quiet Quitting and the Meaning of Work session featured Anjali Sud, Chief Executive Officer, Vimeo; Martine Ferland, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mercer (Marsh McLennan); Adam Grant, Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management and Psychology, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and Thierry Delaporte, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Wipro Limited. Ben Smith, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Semafor, moderated.

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Here's 4 things leaders can do to ensure they create an attractive company culture.

1. Learn how to nurture talent

There's a disconnect between what the younger generation of workers 'needs and expects to be engaged in their personal lives' and what's expected of them by employers, said Anjali Sud. If not addressed, companies will lose productivity.

"There is a fairly necessary reskilling of leaders [needed] if we are going to communicate with distributed teams and align people and connect with them in this digital world... I don't think most leaders feel equipped to do that. It's not a skillset those of us who have moved up the ranks are great at. Without that, the phenomenon of quiet quitting can lead them to not being able to retain and make productive great talent, especially in an environment right now where we need more impact on productivity from our teams."

The generational divide on 'Quiet Quitting'
How the generations are divided over quiet quitting. Image: Statista

2. Offer a sense of purpose

The labour market has fundamentally changed and leaders need to work out how they can best adjust, which comes down to a offering a culture and sense of purpose, said Thierry Delaporte.

"What employees are looking for, candidates when they join a company, they want to join a company that has a culture. They want to feel part of the culture. They want to embrace the culture. A sense of purpose... is incredibly important. Why am I doing this?"

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3. Personalize the digital experience

Communication and connection is key, said Martine Ferland, but that means using the digital tools you have to better enable connection between employees.

"For example at Mercer, we still want to share results, we still have a town hall, but we would do it as... a TV show. We make it like Netflix on demand, they can watch it whenever. There is so much information. You produce it in little soundbites and people will dig into what they want to dig into, the same way they do at home. It's a little bit of self-realization and crafting your role, your time at work a little bit more customized to what engages you. It comes a little bit more personalized as an experience."

4. Hold 'entry' interviews

Adam Grant said CEOs are "scrambling" for solutions on how to keep the best talent.

"They have to do exit interviews to figure out the people who have left, to find out how to keep people. I love exit interviews. I would like to see entry interviews. 'Why are you here, what are you hoping to learn? Tell me about the worst boss you have had?' Not everyone is a new hire. With existing people, it's your job to make it a place where they want to stay. [Ask them] 'What have been the highlights and low lights of your career? Why have you considered quitting and how do we stop that happening?'

Watch the full session here.

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Institutional update

World Economic Forum

May 21, 2024

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