How to stop “quiet quitting”

Andreas Widmer, author of «The Art of Principled Entrepreneurship», suggests after «Why?» to ask.


It’s one of the five W’s that every journalist considers when covering a story. It is often the crucial question.

But in business, the question often seems to be neglected – as far less important than the what (are we selling?) and the how (are we making money?).

According to Andreas Widmer, this neglect is a major factor contributing to a current trend of workplace malaise.

Widmer is a Swiss Guard entrepreneur who founded and directs the Arthur and Carlyse Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at the Catholic University of America. He has just published his second book, The art of principled entrepreneurshipin which he describes five key principles for conducting business in a way that combines personal virtue, the latest entrepreneurial tools and a long-term perspective to make business a win-win for all.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of people began working from home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, there has been much talk of workers feeling disconnected from their work. Businesses have reportedly suffered from a “great resignation” in which workers have chosen to find fulfillment in other jobs or other pursuits. And apparently an overwhelming number of people who have stayed in their jobs have “quietly quit” by doing only the bare minimum to make ends meet and avoiding any feelings, “over and over” for their employers to go.

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Gallup recently reported that only 34% of employees felt engaged at work in the past year, while 16% said they were actively disengaged.

Widmer doesn’t believe that people are lazy or don’t want to work, but that there is something deeper. “I think this is a reaction from people to how they were treated at work,” he said in a recent interview, “and how they are treated at work is not even the sole responsibility or fault of the management class, but It’s a cultural issue because our culture has stopped giving a why to work.”

Off topic

He said there are two important societal attitudes towards work and business – on the one hand, that it’s all about the profits of a few at the top, and on the other hand, that companies should “give back” for their “nefarious” profits to the exercise of social responsibility Businesses – miss the point that workers, managers, owners and investors all need to know the reason for their engagement.

“What we need to get back to — or move forward on — is a proper understanding that work in itself is a moral good, that when I do business I say, ‘How can I help you?’ then I use my God-given talents and create added value for you,” says Widmer. “If I do that, and in a free market you’re willing to pay me more than it cost me to make something, then that difference is newly created value.” We can call that profitability.”

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It’s important for Widmer to remember that the key elements of entrepreneurship are human effort and human ingenuity. As a Christian he sees these elements – which can be summed up as creativity – as an important link to his own raison d’être.

“I was created in the image and likeness the Creator,” he said, referring to the creation account in the book of Genesis. “When I’m creative at work, I’m actually imitating God. Actually, I’m not just imitating God, I’m participating in God’s creativity. And so when you do something like work, even cleaning a room is creative work. Then you do something that is a moral good in itself as a process.”


Character is king

Some commenters have advised business owners to seek out talented employees to resist quiet giving up.

“To increase engagement, hire talented, passionate, and driven people who are able to do the jobs they were hired to do and take ownership of their roles,” wrote a recruiter named Jack Kelly on Forbes .com “Once hired, leadership should trust them and offer them the freedom to do their jobs in the most efficient and effective way.”

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Widmer sees it differently. More important than talent, he says, is character.

“Character is one’s habits, one’s virtues, theirs whyWhy do I do this? – their goals,” he said. “We could go through the cardinal virtues and say how mature a person is, how dependable, how honest, how sincere, and so on.”

Character is “something that’s very difficult to teach,” he said, “but it’s relatively easy to create a hiring process to look for, to make sure you get people with a specific character.”

Skills and knowledge are secondary, he said, because they are teachable.

“You have to have values ​​that are light years above earnings to create lasting value in the market,” Widmer said. “One of the side effects of such a venture is profitability. But there are many other by-products that are just as important: human flourishing, happiness, the common good, and goods that are really good and services that really serve.”

Andrew Widmer


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