Farzana Nayani on Quiet Quitting

Photo by Bradford Rogne Photography

“Quiet quitting” isn’t so quiet anymore – at least 50% of American workers say they’re quietly quitting and only putting in the bare minimum at their job. What can managers do about it? Companies need to look to employee resource groups (ERGs), which are the golden ticket to understanding how to hire and retain workers.

“ERGs are an effective way to involve employees of marginalized identities by creating spaces where people of similar demographics can gather and also receive support,” says Farzana Nayani, a recognized DEI specialist and international keynote speaker. “Many people are drawn to companies with ERGs and other efforts that cultivate a sense of belonging and can offer a place to build community, which is especially important during our remote and hybrid work dynamics.”

Farzana Nayani has worked with Fortune 500 corporations, public agencies, higher education institutions, school districts, and non-profit organizations as a consultant and trainer on diversity and inclusion, intercultural communication, supplier diversity, and employee engagement. Farzana’s advisory work with ERGs, small business advocacy, and entrepreneurship, and racial equity & inclusion has taken her to engagements across North America, from the White House to Silicon Valley. Her new book, The Power of Employee Resource Groups: How People Create Authentic Change, is the first authoritative book on building ERGs to empower underrepresented employees and positively impact DEI efforts within organizations and in society at large.

Below, Nayani talks about ERG’s, quiet quitting and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Can you briefly explain Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) and how they are helping managers retain workers? 

Employee resource groups, also know as ERGs, are demographic-based groups formed in organizations based on identities such as race, gender, military affiliation, parental status, sexual orientation, or any other identity characteristic. These groups are a way to build community among underrepresented and historically excluded groups. They function to create a network and support for individuals of a similar identity, and also create a space for conversation and learning about important causes and for allies to help with advocacy around an issue. Employee resource groups also serve to help with employee engagement and inclusion, and can help managers retain workers because of an increased sense of connection to an organization and feeling of belonging that results when one participates in an ERG. They also provide career opportunities and professional development through events and programs such as mentoring and meeting with senior leaders that are invaluable opportunities for growth.

What are the top 5 P’s for starting and successfully operating an ERG?

The five P’s around starting and successfully operating an ERG found in my book The Power of Employee Resource Groups: How People Create Authentic Change have to do with the group’s Purpose, People, Processes, Planning, and Priorities. These five P’s are essential for helping employee resource groups focus on a direction and can help with the prioritization of activities and efforts throughout the year. The visual framework and prompting questions I provide in the book help employee resource group leaders, HR professionals, and DEI practitioners support employee resource groups for the most effective functioning and greatest impact. The key is having conscious reflection and setting a purposeful direction around employee resource group programming goes beyond a series of loosely connected events or only reactions to what is going on in the news, which can create a feeling of fatigue.

In addition to ERG’s, how can managers build strong relationships with workers?

In addition to employee resource groups, managers can help build strong relationships with workers by focusing on learning more about employees and connecting with them more deeply. This can include understanding the needs of employees, the concerns around work or personal life or the balance between the two, as well as receiving feedback on how working together and collaboration could be done better. Employees often have valuable input to share, and managers can gain a lot from creating a mechanism for feedback and open communication that can instill a sense of trust and a more intentional relationship with employees.

Will women and other marginalized groups suffer the highest consequences of “quiet quitting”?  

The consequences of “quiet quitting” affect everyone. This phenomenon has been used to label the experience of all employees conserving energy and not going above and beyond their regular duties at work. However, there are ongoing concerns that people of marginalized groups have terms of experiencing bias, microaggressions, or any other form of discomfort due to their identity not being represented in the workplace, that had been present before this phenomenon came about. As a result, leadership may interpret a hesitation around participation and involvement by employees of marginalized identities as “quiet quitting” or being “lazy”, when there could be actually a deeper issue at hand that can is related to a lack of inclusion, and equity, or even discrimination at the organization.

How can workers maintain a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout?

In my coaching and consulting of leaders at organizations, I suggest having a healthy sense of expectations and also boundary-setting around what a person’s role and job actually are, and what frankly it is not. For example, people who take on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives may be doing this beyond their actual occupation. In contrast, it might be more of the role and responsibility of the organization to have larger strategic initiatives on that front. At the same time, I encourage individuals to have a realistic sense of timelines around achieving larger goals and instead advise individuals to focus on goals over a shorter period of time, especially while we are still navigating and shifting transitions around the pandemic. This is the most effective approach, and can help relieve overwhelm and/or a sense of a lack of movement on larger projects when actually there has been effort made and progress achieved.


For more information, visit farzananayani.com and read The Power of Employee Resource Groups: How People Create Authentic Change