Esevel - quiet quitting

Addressing Remote Quiet Quitting in Southeast Asia

Quiet quitting – The term describes employees who do the bare minimum required by their job, disengaging, and eventually leaving their positions.

Quiet quitting has emerged as a significant challenge in today’s workplace, especially within remote and hybrid workforces. This phenomenon is particularly relevant in Southeast Asia, where cultural diversity and remote work dynamics add layers of complexity to remote work.

During the “Tapping into the Talent Pool in Southeast Asia” webinar, industry experts discussed the nuances of quiet quitting and offered insights into addressing this trend effectively.

Re-watch the webinar here 👇

Quiet quitting in a remote-first world

Quiet quitting refers to employees fulfilling their job requirements without going above and beyond. They meet their duties but withdraw from any extra effort, often due to dissatisfaction or disengagement. In remote work settings, this behavior can be harder to detect as employees are less visible and their engagement levels might only be apparent after a period of time.

As Elvin from Multiplier simply puts it: “Quiet quitting is essentially when employees stop putting in the effort and enthusiasm they once had. They do just enough to avoid getting fired but nothing more.”

Esevel - quiet quitting

Causes of quiet quitting in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has a rich pool of talented personnel, but its cultural diversity poses many strains on remote companies’ HR operations in the region. One such challenge is the case of quiet quitting. Several factors contribute to quiet quitting in Southeast Asia:

Work-life balance issues:

The shift to remote work has blurred the lines between personal and professional life. Employees often struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, leading to burnout and disengagement.

Yuying – CEO at Esevel, mentioned, “Many employees spend hours commuting and balancing family responsibilities. Without clear boundaries, they can quickly feel overwhelmed and resort to quiet quitting as a coping mechanism.”

Cultural factors influencing employee engagement:

Cultural diversity plays a significant role in shaping employee engagement. In some Southeast Asian cultures, there is a strong emphasis on harmony and avoiding confrontation. Employees may quietly disengage rather than voice their dissatisfaction.

“Understanding cultural norms and communication styles is crucial. In some cultures, employees might not openly express their concerns, leading to silent disengagement.” – Alec Smith – Head of People at Veremark

Management and communication challenges:

Remote work can exacerbate communication gaps between managers and employees. Without regular and clear communication, employees might feel isolated and undervalued.

Lack of career development opportunities:

In many Southeast Asian countries, employees value career growth and continuous learning. When companies fail to provide clear career development opportunities, employees can become disengaged and feel their future with the company is limited. 

Impact of quiet quitting on organizations

Quiet quitting can have several adverse effects on organizations:

Productivity and morale:

Reduced engagement can lead to a decline in productivity and overall team morale. Employees who are quietly quitting may not contribute innovative ideas or collaborate effectively with their colleagues.

Long-term consequences for team dynamics and company culture:

Over time, quiet quitting can erode team dynamics and negatively impact company culture. If not addressed, it can lead to a cycle of disengagement and higher turnover rates.

Alec pointed out, “When employees disengage, it affects the entire team. It’s essential to address the root causes of quiet quitting to maintain a healthy and productive work environment.”

Increased turnover rates:

Quiet quitting can be a precursor to actual quitting. When employees remain disengaged for prolonged periods, they are more likely to leave the company when a better opportunity arises. This increased turnover not only disrupts team cohesion but also leads to higher recruitment and training costs.

Damage to employer brand:

When employees quietly quit, they may share their negative experiences with peers or on social media platforms. This can damage the company’s reputation as a desirable place to work, making it harder to attract top talent.

6 strategies to address quiet quitting in SEA

Esevel - quiet quitting

Enhancing employee engagement

  • Frequent check-ins: Conduct regular one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide feedback. This helps in maintaining a continuous dialogue and ensures that employees feel supported.
  • Employee recognition programs: Implement programs that recognize and reward employees for their hard work and achievements, boosting morale and engagement.

Supporting work-life balance

  • Encourage time off: Promote the importance of taking breaks and utilizing vacation days to prevent work from home burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Wellness programs: Implement wellness programs that support physical and mental health, such as gym memberships, meditation sessions, and counseling services.
  • Set boundaries: Encourage employees to set boundaries between work and personal life, ensuring they have time to recharge and spend with their families.

Improve communication efficiency

  • Clear and transparent feedback: Provide constructive feedback regularly, helping employees understand their performance and areas for improvement. This builds trust and ensures alignment with company goals.
  • Open communication channels: Encourage open communication channels where employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions, ideas, and concerns without fear of retribution.
  • Overcommunication: In a remote-first company, ensure overcommunication to keep everyone aligned and informed.

As Elvin from Multiplier emphasized, “Overcommunication is key in a remote-first company. Managers need to ensure that their teams are aligned and feel connected to the company’s goals.”

Providing clear career development opportunities

  • Career pathways: Clearly define career pathways and opportunities for growth within the company. Employees need to see a future with the company to stay motivated and engaged.
  • Learning and development programs: Offer training and development programs to help employees upgrade their skills and advance their careers.

“Having detailed 30, 60, and 90-day roadmaps with exact actions helps employees understand their career progression.” – ​​Yuying Deng – CEO  at Esevel.

  • Mentorship programs: Establish mentorship programs where experienced employees can guide and support newer team members in their career development.

Implementing flexible work policies

  • Flexible work arrangements: Offer flexible work hours and remote work options to help employees balance their personal and professional lives more effectively.
  • Customizable work schedules: Allow employees to customize their work schedules to fit their individual needs and preferences, fostering a sense of autonomy and respect for their personal commitments.

Promoting a positive and inclusive work culture

  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives: Foster an inclusive remote work culture where all employees feel valued and respected, regardless of their cultural background.

“Overcommunicating your goals and aspirations is crucial. It ensures that everyone is on the same page and feels valued.” – ​Alvin Dmitri Lee, Mobility Consultant at Multiplier

Stay proactive when it comes to quiet quitting

Addressing quiet quitting requires a proactive approach from leadership. By understanding the cultural diversity within their workforce and implementing strategies that enhance engagement, communication, and career development, organizations can mitigate the effects of quiet quitting.

Leaders must prioritize cultural understanding and tailored management practices to foster a motivated and loyal workforce. By doing so, they can ensure that their employees remain engaged, productive, and committed to the company’s success.

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