ASCII Insight: MSPs Share Their Thoughts On Quiet Quitting
In our ongoing quest to provide you with the best business advice possible, we’ve partnered with The ASCII Group and their members who are going to share their thoughts on timely topics or best business practices. In this article, the following ASCII members answered our questions about quiet quitting:
- Mike Bloomfield, President Geek, Tekie Geek
- Sean Jennings, President, CIM Solutions
- Paul Parisi, President & Founder, Savior Labs
- David Stinner, President & Founder, U.S. itek, Incorporated
- Michael Goldstein, President, LAN Infotech, LLC
- Zina Hassel, CEO, ZLH Enterprises
Q: Is quiet quitting an example of employees being “slackers” or an attempt to rebuild boundaries that collapsed during the pandemic?
Bloomfield: I don’t think we can label all quiet quitting into one bucket. There are quite many examples where some employees are simply being “slackers” and many other examples where employees are trying to rebuild some boundaries that went away during the pandemic. Either way, a business owner needs to address the issue head-on and find the reason and act on it to regain control within the business.
Jennings: I see this as two problems. Many employees have become lazy workers as ‘Work from Home’ has continued. They are figuring out ways to do less and less work. The important things to have are metrics and goals that they must meet. Then when they do not meet them, you can call them out on their review and withhold an increase or bonus.
Parisi: I think a little bit of both. People are not machines and creative/problem-solving people are doubly not machines. They need to be encouraged to have enthusiasm. In my opinion, enthusiasm cannot be expected without something deliberate being regularly added. I do think that the pandemic has caused people to reframe what is important to them. There is also a crisis in many people’s minds about how they deal with a new normal.
Stinner: I think quiet quitting could be a result of a disengaged employee, an employee who is feeling underpaid, an employee who is in the wrong position, or an employee who is just burnt out.
Goldstein: In my opinion, quiet quitting is an example of employees being “slackers.” I always have put in 150 percent in all of the jobs I have held and expect no less from my employees. You are either 100 percent in and transparent or out.
Hassel: Since the pandemic, the employment world seems to have been turned upside down. Couple that with GEN Z Zoomers whose overly inflated expectations of employment are interesting (to say the least) but you may not have slackers. It’s not that they don’t want to work; it's what they want to work at and at what level. Just like children growing up constantly test their parents’ boundaries, so too, do the Gen Z test the boundaries. This is not to say that quiet quitting is limited to Gen Z. It just seems to be more prolific. We always have seen employees that grow dissatisfied with their position out looking for greener pastures.
Q: Have you experienced an instance of quiet quitting and how did it affect you and your MSP?
Bloomfield: I think most business owners have experienced one form of quiet quitting or another in the past year. I have had some minor examples and I approached them head-on by speaking to the employee, setting expectations, and letting them know that if they truly wanted to quit, I wasn’t going to get in their way. Following the conversations, I noticed vast improvement because we were able to address the issues that bothered both themselves and me.
Jennings: This is affecting us now. We do quarterly reviews, and many staff are not hitting their goals that they used to hit most of the time before COVID when we were all working in the office. So now they push back when their bonus is reduced or declined at each quarterly review. We now do monthly quick reviews so each employee can see that they are being measured and how they are doing compared to their goals.
Parisi: Not explicitly someone “sandbagging” it. More so with the dissipation of enthusiasm. I am finding that reviews have become infinitely more important. People (employees) want to be wanted, needed, and appreciated. I think we have stemmed the potential tide of quiet quitting by increasing one-on-one interactions.
Stinner: I have experienced a few instances of this during and after the pandemic. One instance was an employee who wanted more pay and with that came more responsibility and more trust to do higher-level work. We needed to discuss all of that and be very clear about it before just handing over a substantial increase. That tech didn’t know at first how to discuss his desire for a large pay increase, but we worked that out for a win-win for both of us and now he leads a department. I had another tech who was just burnt out and we knew he would leave the company if unaddressed. We had some discussions and when he learned the nuances of sales, he wanted to make the switch. Being an on-site tech and people person, he is now an extremely productive sales rep earning new business. He also requested a month of sabbatical to travel and we gave it to him in between the transition. If he just ended one role on a Friday and started the next on a Monday it never would have worked as he would have been pulled back into tech work. The time separation was good for both of us.
Goldstein: 2022-2023 has been a very interesting year. I have not seen “quiet quitting” before last year and has been happening more and more. You finally think you have reached the right number of tech employees and then find yourself short because of underachievers getting into the “quiet quitting” mode. Always hits you at the wrong times.
Hassel: We don’t necessarily see that in our company, but we do see it from some of our clients!
Q: Has quiet quitting changed the way you deliver employee feedback?
Bloomfield: No, I haven’t changed how I provide employee feedback. No matter if it’s quiet quitting or worrying about an employee truly quitting, you must always be honest and do what is best for the organization, which means that I need to provide feedback to help make them be better employees for my organization, my clients, and ultimately for themselves.
Jennings: Yes! We now do monthly mini-reviews and still the regular quarterly reviews. The plan is that if they know we are watching on a daily and weekly basis they will start to get back to the work ethic they had before COVID. Otherwise, we may have no choice but to force a back to the office. Some MSPs I talk to are also running employee productivity tracking software to report on what staff are doing and then use this in case of written warning and dismissal.
Parisi: More regular and collaborative. Reviews, in some employees’ minds, are tied to compensation. While that sometimes is the case… performance needs to be proactively managed.
Stinner: Yes, we now proactively engage and constantly ask our people how they like their role, work, responsibilities, and more. We want to know if they don’t like something so we can make a change, create a place, or plan an amicable separation.
Goldstein: This has not changed the way we deliver employee feedback. We still monitor the time put into our ticketing system but do scrutinize it more and more now. In the past, we would take a wait-and-see approach but now we are on top of it.
Hassel: We always have tried to have a weekly huddle call with our staff; so, nothing has changed there. We have seen some instances, however, where certain individuals crave more attention and have adjusted for that (more communication).
Q: What are some signs of quiet quitting to be aware of?
Bloomfield: The biggest sign that I noticed was an employee who previously wouldn’t mind staying a few minutes late to finish a task, packing up around 10 minutes before the workday ended, and running out the door the minute the clock struck their shift end time. It reminded me of a student waiting for that bell at school. I find it important for my staff to enjoy being at work and when they are waiting for the “bell” like that, I knew they were quiet quitting!
Jennings: Employees taking too long to respond to a CHAT or email. Projects and services take longer to get done. Employees will drag things out, so it takes longer time but with less work. Multiple sick days. Some people will now call in sick for any reason. The flip is some employees now will not call in sick but will work so they get paid but do less than 25% of their work since they are actually sick and should not have come to work.
Parisi: The biggest is disengagement. I know I want people to collaborate and be involved… but if I am not involved in their day-to-day work lives, I think that it is not reasonable to expect.
Stinner: Look for signs of disengagement like coming in late, skipping meetings, calling in sick a lot, sloppy work, and a general attitude of not caring about the details.
Goldstein: Some signs that we see of quite quitting that we look for are dropped in the number of tickets employees handle, vague and repetitive resolution answers in tickets, and the lack of asking for more tickets when time is a little slow.
Hassel: Increased use of PTO, not attending meetings or being quiet when there; missing deadlines.
Q: What advice do you have for MSPs and/or employees experiencing quiet quitting?
Bloomfield: Address it head on, before it becomes a rotten apple that spreads rapidly.
Jennings: Make sure to keep in touch with your employees daily. Make sure to know you are holding your staff to timelines and have multiple metrics to measure their productivity. Try to anticipate ways that employees will game the system and then be ready to adjust your measures and metrics. Be prepared to call an employee out who you think is not producing and be ready for them to quit or be fired over it.
Parisi: Change and commit to managing differently. People are gooshy and, as a technical person, that is not my happy place. Heck, I like it when people reach out and invest in me. I need to invest in people as people, much more so than I invest in the next critical thing on my endless list.
Stinner: Address it now and have a candid conversation. If you procrastinate because you are worried that person might walk out the door, they are going to do that anyways and, on their terms, not yours if you do not get in front of it and plan it out. You also might never know where they would be a better fit if you don’t talk about it.
Goldstein: My best advice is to monitor engineer’s tickets not only for time but resolutions. We also try and do monthly company meetings to let all employees know what is going on in all aspects of our business.
Hassel: Get to know your employees and see whether there is still a fit and sync of goals between you. If not, work out an off-boarding plan.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs, and Solution Providers. The Group has members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solutions providers with a national and international reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction, and more. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of leading and major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit https://www.ascii.com/.