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The Newest “Quiet” Buzzword – Quiet Constraint

July 12, 2023

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner ASE

First there was Quiet Quitting, now there is Quiet Constraint – corporate America’s current hidden threat at work. According to data from Kahoot!’s recent Workplace Culture Report, over half (58%) of employees say that they withhold valuable knowledge they could share with their colleagues. The Gen Z generation exhibited this behavior more than any other generation, with 77% of Gen Zers reporting that they silently sit on beneficial information in the workplace.

What really surprised us from this research was just how much valuable knowledge workers believe sits with them but is not currently being shared. It’s clear that employers need to step up and both create a culture which encourages knowledge sharing and provides engaging ways to do so,” said James Micklethwait, VP, Kahoot! at Work.

Additional insights from the survey revealed the following:
  • More men (63%) say that they hold in information at work vs women (57%) and are more likely to do it often (27% vs. 16%).
  • When asked why workers were holding in information, 26% said they were never asked, and 23% said their employer doesn’t provide them a channel or means to do so. In addition, 26% said they feel like their talent and self-expression is stifled at work.
  • More than three-quarters of employees said they would value an engaging way to share knowledge.

Often quiet constraint is unintentional and due to a work environment that lacks collaboration, but sometimes employees withhold information intentionally, which can be a sign of a toxic workplace culture.

There can be a competitive work environment, where people have left jobs, gotten promotions, or are in big, new jobs and want to prove themselves,” said Chris Holter, career and workplace expert and CEO of Chris Holter Consultancy. “You want to demonstrate that you are the expert. In those cases, maybe subconsciously you’re not sharing information because of the age-old principle that knowledge is power.”

Whether an employee is withholding information intentionally or not, it can lead to an overall lack of productivity, innovation, connectivity, collaboration, etc. Efficiency can be affected – it could end up with multiple people working on the same task without information sharing, which isn’t efficient or productive.

3 Ways to Combat Quiet Constraint

Here are a few ways to get your employees to open up and share their knowledge:

  1. Build a culture of collaborative sharing. If people see their colleagues as “competition,” they’ll be less likely to speak up with helpful information and creative ideas. Make it clear to your team, every day, that the real competition is outside the organization, not inside. Or, make competition more fun and friendly; 59% of Gen Z respondents said that “a little dose of friendly competition” would help them feel more engaged.
  2. Make presentations and online communication more interactive. Are you leveraging technology to make virtual collaboration as engaging as it can be? The Kahoot! survey found that 38% of employees thought “more rich and interactive media” would improve their engagement. Make every online collaboration session count by directly asking people for ideas and drawing upon everyone’s best thinking.
  3. Give people more incentives to share. 51% of survey respondents said brainstorming with coworkers would help them be more engaged. Revamp your meeting formats and presentation styles to give people everyday opportunities and incentives to speak up and share knowledge.

When people feel safe, empowered, and inspired to share their best thinking, your organization can unlock the best ideas and create value for the entire team.


Sources: PR Newswire; BLR;

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