Quiet Quitting? Not if you have a High-Trust Workplace Culture

Quiet Quitting? Not if you have a High-Trust Workplace Culture

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On 17 November 2022, Great Place To Work Singapore unveiled 45 companies on the 2022 Singapore Best Workplaces™ List at the Great Place To Work® 2022 Celebration of Great Workplaces Gala Dinner held at Marina Bay Sands. The awards were presented by our Guest-of-Honour, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.

Amidst geopolitical upheavals and the larger macroeconomic trends impacting businesses in Singapore today, this year’s list-makers have demonstrated the ability to build a thriving workforce. This is in spite of the challenging macro environment, ambiguities and uncertainties confronting them at every turn. These companies have doubled down on their investment in people, prioritized workplace culture as the foundation on which they can maximize human potential, build workforce agility and business resilience, and emerge stronger.

After the Great Resignation came the realization that many employees who didn’t join the mass exodus of people leaving their companies for greener pastures, were also expressing their discontent at work by Quiet Quitting. They found that employee retention did not equate to employee engagement, or a willingness to exercise discretionary effort to achieve business goals. In fact, Gallup found that quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce, and that the trend toward quiet quitting could get worse.1

Based on research by Zenger Folkman in a Harvard Business Review article, “quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees where they are not counting the minutes until quitting time”.2

Zenger Folkman analysts looked at data and compared employee ratings of managers’ ability to balance getting results with a concern for others’ needs against the extent to which direct reports would want to go the extra mile. Unsurprisingly, managers who were rated highest on balancing relationships with results saw 62% of their employees willing to give extra effort and only 3% quietly quitting. Conversely, managers at the other end of the scale had three to four times as many people in the “quiet quitting” category.

They found that the most important factor is trust. And that this trust is built through three key behaviors:

  1. Ability to build positive relationships with their direct reports
  2. Consistency, i.e., delivering on what they promise
  3. Expertise, i.e., competence, clarity and a path forward

What about the workforce reality in Singapore? How do our Best Workplaces fare in comparison with other workplaces, and how much of the Singapore workforce is quietly quitting?

As part of our evaluation of the 2022 Singapore Best Workplaces List, voices of close to 70,000 employees were heard via the Great Place To Work Trust Index™ Employee Survey. Based on a detailed analysis of data across different industries and company sizes, we compared the employee experiences for three categories of companies:

  • Companies placed on the 2022 Singapore Best Workplaces List (“SG Best”)
  • Companies which are Great Place To Work Certified™ (“SG Certified”)
  • Companies which are not Certified (“SG Average”)

[Note: Companies have to attain a minimum Trust Index© score of 65% in order to be Great Place To Work Certified.]

Our data showed that over nine in 10 employees among SG Best companies responded positively to the statements “People look forward to coming to work here” and “People here are willing to give extra to get the job done”.

Among SG Certified companies, about three in four employees look forward to going to work, while four out of every five are willing to give extra to get the job done. On the other hand, only about half the workforce at SG Average companies responded positively to both statements.

People look forward to coming to work here

People here are willing to give extra to get the job done

To understand the differences across the three categories of companies, we compared employee responses to selected statements in our Survey aligned with the three critical behaviors identified in the Zenger Folkman research.

1.

Ability to build positive relationships with employees

Firstly, we analyzed employee experiences of management’s authentic care and interest in them, and their ability to connect with their employees:

  • Management is approachable, easy to talk with
  • Management shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee
  • People are encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life

Management is approachable, easy to talk with

Management shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee

People are encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life

2.

Consistency of behavior

Secondly, to assess employee experiences around the consistency of management’s behavior, we looked at responses to the following statements:

  • Management’s actions match its words
  • Management delivers on its promises

Management's actions match its words

Management delivers on its promises

3.

Expertise and competence

Thirdly, we examined employee experiences around leadership competence:

  • Management is competent at running the business
  • Management has a clear view of where the organization is going and how to get there


Management is competent at running the business

Management has a clear view of where the organization is going and how to get there

Across all three areas, SG Best out-performed companies in the other two categories, while SG Certified companies did significantly better than those in the SG Average category. This meant that leaders at Best Workplaces and Certified companies were more adept at demonstrating trust-building behaviors – and on a consistent basis – as compared with companies which are not Certified. And these behaviors lead to the high-trust workplace culture that correlate with employees’ willingness to give extra to get the job done.

What are leaders at SG Best companies doing to build a high-trust workplace culture? How do they cultivate and reinforce such positive relationships with their people, demonstrate consistency in their day-to-day actions and behaviors, and display expertise and competence to inspire trust?

1.

They articulate a clear business direction, involve employees in developing implementation plans and connect everyone to achieve a common purpose

Boston Scientific’s Singapore office is headquarters for its operations in the Asia Pacific region. Its Strategic Plan defines what it wants the business to look like in the next 5 years, and outlines how to achieve these objectives. The Plan is refined each year, building on what the business has learned and any changes to the environment in which it operates.

At a country level, each country general manager builds local strategies to suit the respective markets. These strategies are developed through insights from their respective teams, gleaned through their interaction with customers and hearing first-hand what customers need. Each business unit manager or sales manager identifies market and business issues by assessing industry and competitive dynamics, in collaboration with their team members. They then explore market opportunities and develop strategies to align with the overarching organization goal. This level of involvement at each local office ensures a high degree of alignment and ownership of the Strategic Plan, which represents a unified theme for the whole region.

It recognizes that having a good strategy is the first step, and how well it is communicated, implemented, and accepted by all members of the organization is essential. The final implementation plan is communicated through a series of events and activities to ensure that employees across the whole organization are aligned. This is reinforced through its Quarterly Business Updates which include sharing by employees on the key initiatives they are working on, in relation to the overall Strategic Plan. This enables everyone to understand how different initiatives fit together and contribute to the overall plan. It also provides opportunities for formal and informal feedback loops so that employees can provide input or suggest updates and adjustments to the strategy along the way.

2.

They build capability among leaders at every level by equipping them with the right knowledge, skills and resources

At DHL Express, everything centers around ensuring that its employees have a “Great Day Every Day”. Its leadership attributes are based on the principle of leading with Head, Heart, and Guts, and DHL invests heavily in its people leaders with the belief that great managers and supervisors are the keys to enabling its employees to have a great and consistent workplace experience.

From dedicated leadership modules for managers, supervisors and team leaders within its global Certified International Specialist program to embed its desired culture, to a structured approach to instilling the leadership attributes among people leaders (including a leadership profile self-evaluation and a manager assessment of identified behaviors, such as having and creating trust with team members), DHL conscientiously works toward building strong and capable people leaders at every level of the company.

3.

They recognize an individual’s need for acceptance and belonging

At Mastercard, the “Mastercard Way” is a proud statement of its culture, how people work and why they work. This foundational ethos drives the company’s efforts to develop inspirational leaders, create inclusive employee programs, and design benefits that meet the needs of its diverse workforce.

It firmly believes that acceptance matters, and conscientiously tracks its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts based on a conviction that people thrive personally when they feel they belong, their ideas are valued, and they are treated fairly.

The management committee sets aside time every quarter to discuss inclusion and culture; they discuss how they are moving the needle through leadership programs, talent initiatives, regional and functional inclusion plans, and track improvement in workforce diversity and the efforts of the various Business Resource Groups (BRGs). The leaders themselves actively address diversity and inclusion matters at department townhalls and take on the role of BRG sponsors or mentors. The company also leverages data to identify discrimination and inequality in precise, granular ways, e.g. measuring its success through its “Inclusive Growth Scale” to analyze different facets of inequality and their associated drivers.

4.

They address employees’ needs holistically to help them thrive

Hilton believes that building a fully human experience at work is required for employees to thrive and maximize their full potential. It anchors “Life at Hilton” around the core human needs and values of Inclusion, Wellness, Growth and Purpose. These are the foundation upon which its employee value proposition – Thrive at Hilton – is designed, to support the diverse and unique personal and professional well-being needs of its employees.

As part of the conscious and continuous investment in its culture, it launched a new Care for All platform focused on providing resources for employees’ self-care and caregiving needs; evolved work flexibility options by giving employees the opportunity to choose how and when they work, and how they are paid; expanded learning programs to provide best-in-class continuing education opportunities and leadership development; delivered generous wellness benefits to support employees’ physical and mental well-being; and created a new central hub to inspire employees and help connect each individual to a personal and broader purpose.

5.

They establish multiple touch points throughout an employee’s journey to listen to their people and act on feedback received

At Workato, the notion of transparency and open communication are deeply embedded across the company’s operating systems, and it encourages discussion and feedback regardless of role and seniority. From Day 1 of an employee’s journey with Workato, they are asked for feedback through a Candidate Experience Survey to improve the experience for the next batch of hires. New hires then have the chance to engage with the senior leadership on the business strategy and processes at their one-month mark. In the course of their journey, employees have weekly or biweekly 1-on-1 syncs with their managers to discuss growth opportunities, performance levels or obstacles faced.

The company also conducts regular pulse surveys as part of its employee listening strategy, and actively follows-up on their feedback and suggestions. Some new initiatives and program enhancements include the introduction of a monthly “Global Day Off” in 2022; providing employees autonomy to choose their medical plans according to their individiual needs; and a generous parental care policy with maternity leave benefits of 20 weeks regardless of nationality, and a paid paternity leave benefit of 10 weeks.

At companies where leaders invest in their workplace culture and effectively build trust with their employees, engagement levels are higher, employees expand discretionary effort and willingly go the extra mile to achieve work deliverables. Importantly, beyond implementing structured processes and practices to communicate and connect with their people, address their needs and aspirations, and build a high trust culture, SG Best companies have an overarching and integrated people-first philosophy which drive all their efforts. And, ultimately, this is what shapes day-to-day employee experiences at these workplaces, and just some of the reasons why our list-makers are the best companies to work for in Singapore today.

What are your employees’ experiences like at the workplace and what proportion of your workforce are willing to go that extra mile (or quiet quitting)?

Take your first step by joining the Great Place To Work Certified community by clicking here.

For more information on how the Singapore Best Workplaces performed in other areas, refer to the 2022 Scorecard below.

References:

[1] Is Quiet Quitting Real? 2022, September 6. Jim Harter. Gallup, Inc

[2] Quiet Quitting Is About Bad Bosses, Not Bad Employees. 2022, August 31. Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. Harvard Business Review.

Evelyn Kwek

Evelyn is the Managing Director for Great Place to Work®️ in ASEAN and ANZ. Heading the expansion of Great Place to Work®️ offices in ASEAN, Evelyn is convinced that just as the region is growing exponentially on the economic front, the work of building great workplaces FOR ALL™ must go in tandem with economic growth.

A proud mother of 3, Evelyn takes parenting very seriously – she is strict yet giving, result-focused yet generous. Together with husband Roland, they relish exploring new cultures and beautiful places of the world, usually on leisurely self-drive holidays, before the days of Covid.

Pamela Sng

Pamela is our Senior Consultant and Research Lead for Great Place to Work® ASEAN and ANZ. She has over two decades of consulting and policy experience helping organizations in their journey to become fair and progressive employers. She believes that every organization has the potential to be a great workplace, and works with data to distil insights and develop resources to help them. When she’s not burrowing down the rabbit hole of numbers and words, she’s probably immersed in a new K-drama or catching up with friends over a virtual drinks session.

Raymond Teo

Raymond is a talent-builder, having trained and coached hundreds of leaders and staff in systematic problem-solving skills. He is also a Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and a LEGO® Serious Play facilitator, using these tools in strategy development, team building, problem solving, visioning and leadership development. Today, as a Senior Consultant for Great Place to Work®, Raymond brings in his extensive coaching, business performance management, and team development experiences to help clients build stronger workplace cultures and employee engagement that is pivotal towards business success.

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ABOUT OUR METHOLOGY​

To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.

ABOUT OUR METHODOLOGY​