Bosses Are Keeping Tabs On Quiet Quitters, And That’s Bad For Business

More employers are now surveilling their employees due to a heightened awareness of the term quiet quitting, or the act of doing solely what is in one's job description and nothing more.

By Joseph Farago | Published

Quiet quitters have been the most popular business phenomenon this summer. Though it’s an old idea, the term is relatively new and describes those who do the bare minimum at their jobs. Since this term rose to popularity, bosses have been more privy to surveil their workers, trying to catch them in this seemingly benign business mindset.

Employers have increased their surveillance tools to watch their employees complete their tasks, which isn’t good for business overall. Many are critiquing these practices and labeling them as counterproductive, acknowledging that monitoring employees could impede their work ethic while taking away managers’ and executives’ valuable time. On top of that, there’s no objective evidence that surveilling your employees will improve their efficiency or focus.

Since the pandemic began, more companies have been implementing monitoring software. Now, two out of three medium to large-size companies has purchased and used an employee surveillance system, which is 30% more common than in early 2020. While different software provides different tactics and specificities, many include overarching monitoring practices, analyzing everything workers do within the office or during work hours.

This shift is understandably jarring for white-collar workers who hadn’t previously worked under this type of surveillance system. Employers might feel more reassured when looking out for quiet quitters, but the new software implementation showcases a power discrepancy between workers and their bosses. This imbalance could lead to further strife within a workplace environment, which ultimately could degrade the work ethic instead of improving it.

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As we know from countless lawsuits against mass media companies, there aren’t ample protections for people’s privacy when existing online. The same goes for surveillance software utilized by employers; there’s not much legislation protecting a worker’s online use, leading to this ongoing debate about surveillance culture and its nebulous ethics. One of the most jarring software employees can use a technology that screenshots a worker’s computer every ten minutes, providing live updates of their website usage.

While employers for large companies are more invested in surveillance software, critics believe these systems micromanage employees at best and unethically infringe upon employee autonomy at worst. Colloquially known as “bossware,” many liken these monitoring tactics to having a boss standing over your shoulder during your entire workday. This new trend in micromanaging could encourage quiet quitters or quitting in general, possibly exacerbating trust issues within a company’s interpersonal dynamics.

On the flip side of software that gathers excessive amounts of data, there is more modest technology from Google and Microsoft. Many workplaces already have Google Workplace or Microsoft 365 to make presentations, spreadsheets, and more. Though these programs collect data, they’re extremely limited on what data they can record and often don’t reveal the identity of users activating certain apps or perusing specific websites.

Though many employers are worried about quiet quitters and how they will affect their company’s longevity, there’s no evidence that constant surveillance will help. Implementing systems that unethically monitor a worker’s activity could foster more animosity towards their employers, ultimately leading employees to an outcome bosses are trying to avoid.