Take a step back and consider the full picture. Don’t become reactive to a specific occurrence.

Quiet quitting is the emerging phenomenon of employee disengagement, essentially quitting on the job. What strategies do high-impact leaders deploy to motivate themselves and those around them to move from quiet quitting to quiet committing? Because, at its core, there is no change without commitment. Commitment to change ideas. Change beliefs. Change perspectives. Change routines, rituals and boundaries. Organizations change one commitment at a time. One leader at a time. As part of our series about “Quiet Committing: The Top Five Commitments High Impact Leaders Make & Keep To Themselves Daily”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Caitlin Wiggins.

Caitlin Wiggins holds the position of Director of Marketing Operations at Liquified Creative. After graduating from The Catholic University of America in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies, she went on to acquire a secondary degree from the same institution, ultimately graduating with a Master of Science in Business Analysis a year later. Her previous work experience includes various industry-related positions, including work with international media consulting firms, national non-profit organizations, and other creative agencies. Previous campaigns and client work includes Netflix, HBO, Hilton, and The Heart of America Foundation, among others. Throughout her professional career, Caitlin has contributed significant strategic insight throughout her various roles, along with active engagement in the areas of client, team, campaign, and operational management. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Caitlin is leading efforts surrounding agency sales and growth. She currently leads all marketing efforts for the agencies’ diverse portfolio of clients, along with managing both the Marketing and Public Relations departments within the agency. Caitlin is actively engaged with management and operational efforts as they relate to other departments within the agency, as well as overall agency operations. She is also an active member of her local community where she not only lives but cultivates business relationships. Caitlin is currently an active member of PRSA’s Chesapeake Chapter, the Annapolis Yacht Club, Leadership Anne Arundel, and the American Marketing Association

Thank you for making time for our visit. What was the first job you had, and how did that job shape the leader you are today?

The first job I had that was impactful enough to shape my future professional and personal growth was actually an internship position believe it or not. I was a Development intern with The Heart of America Foundation, where I had the chance to work with many inspirational people. Both the organizations’ leadership team and staff were so passionate about the organizations’ mission. I was able to witness firsthand what it meant to love your job, inspire others, and make an impact each and every day. After that internship experience, I knew I wanted to pursue a future that embodied all of those same attributes and inspire others to do the same. To do that, I knew I’d have to become a leader that had some sort of positive impact.

We’re talking about quiet quitting in this series. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a job you decided to quit?

With quiet quitting, someone is more likely to become disengaged with their place of work as well as their job function. At the end of the day, that’s just not who I am. If I’m becoming disengaged with my work, I’d be more likely to ask myself the why and how behind that. Even if it was the result of management, I’d want to be able to bring that up or search for a new position elsewhere. My first job out of grad school was a similar experience, however, it was the negative treatment and heightened stress being generated from the top down. I knew that I should never compromise my day-to-day happiness for a job, and that’s been a huge lesson for me as both an employee and a leader. It also resonated with me so much that I’ve made it my own personal mission to foster an environment of open communication that prioritizes employee engagement in my current role. I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did in that previous role. If someone feels that they’re ready for a job move, I want it to be a positive exit experience for both that employee and the company.

Employee Engagement is top of mind for most organizations. How do you define an engaged employee?

I would define an engaged employee as someone who is fully involved, motivated, and committed to their work. Beyond that, an engaged employee here at our ad agency is one that is also connected to the goals, values, and company culture of our agency. An engaged employee to me demonstrates a genuine passion for their work and for this industry. They approach their tasks with enthusiasm and are taking initiative. An engaged employee is one who values collaboration and teamwork, as well as continuous learning and growth. I think in any job, an engaged employee is also one that demonstrates accountability and maintains a positive attitude in most situations.

Say more about your Employee Engagement portfolio. What’s working? What’s not working? And what are you piloting now to address the Quiet Committing trend?

Quiet committing is a tough one, as I’ve seen it in two specific instances over the past few years. From my perspective, the dialogue with said employee reflected that we provided opportunity after opportunity and conversation after conversation. At the end of the day, the individuals just couldn’t share what drove to their departures — only one of them being voluntary. It’s hard when you provide resource after resource that seems to be working for everyone else, but it’s not working for one or two people. You want to see everyone succeed, but you also don’t want to let a toxic mindset influence the positivity of other team members. All in all, I do strongly believe that transparency, honesty, open communication, and opportunity are all playing a positive impact on our employee engagement philosophy and day-to-day model. I am constantly listening and applying feedback as we receive it as well, in order to try to create a workplace where people want to continue to work, and are excited about being a part of.

As goes the leadership, so goes the team. How do you hold leaders accountable for their own level of engagement?

Aside from me, we have our agency partner, and I constantly encourage him to engage with everyone on a mentorship level. He has so much to offer experience-wise that I find it to be a very positive experience as he mentors different team members from across various departments. It’s items such as this that I bring up during our management meetings, quarterly planning, etc. We also have individuals who hold somewhat of leadership roles within their departments. Finding opportunities to build communication channels, providing guidance on workflows and collaboration, and building collaboration are all positive methods of accountability when it comes to engagement. Should someone be lacking in any of this, we try to take the opportunity to have a discussion about it, rather than jump to any conclusions. Those open conversations also bring both the positives and negatives to light, which I believe also helps to reinforce the aspect of accountability.

The first phase of the pandemic ushered in the phenomenon called The Great Resignation, where employees left organizations to pursue greater meaning and purpose. Then came The Great Reshuffle, where employees left organizations to pursue promotions, pay and perks. Now we’ve entered a third phase, Quiet Quitting, where employees are deeply disengaged. What do you believe to be the key drivers of Quiet Quitting?

Disengaged leaders, no transparency on compensation or benefits, no flexibility as far as remote work, time off, and just a negative work environment overall. I believe that people are driven by a few key factors when it comes to their place of work, but qualifiers can differ from industry to person. At the end of the day, you can’t make everyone happy all the time, but you can look for signs of disengagement or maintain awareness of these key drivers that do in fact lead to quiet quitting.

What do you predict will be the next phase in the evolution of the employer / employee landscape?

This is a tough one. I think the economy will be a big driver in forecasting this, but \it really depends on the availability of jobs in my opinion. If you see a boom in companies hiring a ton of people, they’re going to do all of these things to make themselves more attractive to candidates. Then, when the need for these new hires is no longer there, they let them go, and people become less picky about finding a job and maybe settle for a position they don’t find ideal. I see a lot of this jumping from job to job going on when I’d love to see companies and employees just simply value growth and investment in longevity with the employees they do have. So I guess my hopeful or idealistic answer would be just that — a trend where people stay put, build solid career foundations and achieve amazing growth milestones.

What leadership behaviors need to evolve to improve employee engagement in a sustainable way?

I believe that leadership behaviors such as collaboration and the growth mentality need to evolve to improve employee engagement in a sustainable way. Those are your building blocks, right? Work on engaging and collaborating with those that you lead, and share an interest in supporting their professional development. After that, the rest should fall into place. It creates an intrinsic appreciation for the work your team does and allows you to also identify if someone is taking advantage of fellow employees that are actually engaged and positive about their chosen career. You’ll become more aware of engagement, or disengagement, in general — all while becoming a better leader in return.

Change requires commitment and happens one choice at a time. What are the top five commitments you make and keep to yourself daily that have a material impact on those you lead?

1 . Take a step back and consider the full picture. Don’t become reactive to a specific occurrence.

2 . “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.” — David Ogilvy. (this helps to remind me to not only push myself but invest in the continued growth of those I lead)

3 . Be the kind of boss I wish I had early in my career.

4 . Pay attention to the level of collaboration occurring between those I lead. If there’s a problem, identify it in the most objective way to solve it in the most impactful way.

5 . Hold people, and myself, accountable (and give praise where praise is due), as both positive and negative actions impact those around you.

What’s the most effective strategy you’ve discovered to get back on track when you break a commitment you’ve made?

Take ownership, show humility, and commit to correcting the path. It’s wasted time if I can’t be honest with myself and anyone involved in the situation.

Thank you for sharing these important insights. How can our readers further follow your work?

I’m passionate about where I work and the people that work there, so you’ll find everything on our company’s social channels and our website (we’re rolling out a new one very soon, too!). Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, or check our company profiles too, all linked from our website.

Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.