Quiet Quitting: What It Is and How to Combat It

Is quiet quitting really a thing? Yes, and it is insidious. Here is what you need to know to help keep your employees happy and engaged.

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Quiet Quitting

Here's what you need to know:

  • Quiet quitting is when employees do the bare minimum but are no longer invested in the outcome of their work
  • Spot quiet quitters by paying attention to their behavior
  • Combat quiet quitting by finding motivators and investing in corrective actions
  • 1 out of 5 of employees say they are currently quiet quitting. Happy employees are less likely to quiet quit

You may have heard of “quiet quitting.” It’s the choice to do only assigned work — and nothing more.

21% of working Americans say they are quiet quitters, according to an August 2022 ResumeBuilder.com survey of 1,000 workers.

According to NPR, some experts say quiet quitting is a misnomer for simply setting healthy workplace boundaries and refusing to be exploited. After years of doing extra work to make up for those who left during the Great Resignation, employees may simply be burnt out and tired. Other employees simply see no reason to continue to hustle for an employer due to other factors.

“To me, quietly quitting just comes back to setting your boundaries about what your outputs are going to look like at work,” a worker told CNBC.

So, what is Quiet Quitting really?

Quiet quitting is when employees do the bare minimum. They show up, they perform assigned, expected tasks, and then they go home. Without motivation to excel or exceed expectations, many employees are simply collecting paychecks. They do not want to get fired, but have no desire to do any extra work, stay late, and are possibly unmotivated to help the company meet goals.

If an employee is no longer invested in going the extra mile for the company, and is simply doing the basic work required, they may be quiet quitting.

Which employees are likely to Quiet Quit?

Employees often “check out” when they are unhappy in their job. If you have an employee who has had one of these common de-motivators happen to them, they may be quiet quitters:

  • Been asked to do too much and no longer willing to do so (silently setting boundaries)
  • Turned down for a promotion
  • Denied a raise
  • Re-assigned from a passion project
  • Hours changed unfavorably
  • Denied Work from Home (return to the office unwillingly)
  • Workload becoming too much of a burden to mentally handle

In addition, here are some other scenarios that could make an employee no longer be invested in their job:

  • Values no longer align with corporate policies
  • A takeover or buyout making employees fearful for their jobs long term
  • Manager or supervisor changes
  • General Burnout (poor leadership, general overwork)

What are the signs an employee is probably quiet quitting?

  1. Coming in late
  2. Leaving early
  3. Showing no enthusiasm during team meetings
  4. Not showing up for team meetings
  5. Not participating in pulse surveys
  6. Waiting to be asked to do tasks vs showing initiative
  7. Not offering ideas or help
  8. No interest in socializing with coworkers

In a nutshell, employees who are Quiet Quitting are not interested in their career path at the company they are in; they are in “survival mode” and simply biding time until their next gig, side hustle takes off, or retirement. For whatever reason, they no longer feel invested in the future of the company, brand, output, or department. When an employee has no desire for a positive outcome of their efforts, they simply mentally check out and perform tasks for pay. 

How can I turn around an employee who I suspect is quiet quitting?

First step is to find out why. If you know their reason for lack of motivation, you can take corrective action and hopefully, help them return to a place where they are eager to contribute again. The goal is to find solutions to make your unhappy employee happy. Here are some reasons and actions to consider.

Quiet Quitting Infographic

 

REASON ACTION
Turned Down for a Promotion Find out if there is another position in the company they could aspire to, and help them take the steps needed to gain it. Lay out a detailed plan for them to get them there.

 

Denied a Raise

 

This one is tough in an economy where there are more job openings than workers. Is there a path to a raise, perhaps with more responsibility? How about a promised raise at a certain point in the future?

 

Re-Assigned from Passion Project

 

If your employee was doing meaningful work and was pulled from it, the resulting listlessness can create a lack of motivation. Try explaining to them the value of the work they are now doing and how it helps the company and customers.

 

Hours Changed Unfavorably

 

 

If your employee had a great schedule that allowed for a great work-life balance and it was altered not in their favor, try to find a way to get that back for them.

 

Denied Work from Home

 

If company policy dictates a return to the office or reduction in a flexible work arrangement, see if there are ways to lighten the burden of this. Assisting with childcare costs, transportation costs, allowing them to alter their arrival times by a few hours to combat traffic and school schedules, or even offering 10 hours days with 3 day weekends could help show you care about their freedom and work-life balance.

 

Burnout

 

This is a common reason and one that should be taken very seriously. Great ways to combat burnout include:

  1. Hire additional help for your teams – even freelance or temp help
  2. Give employees additional time off to recharge
  3. Institute “no after work communication” policies that protect time off
  4. Provide free mental health resources and re-charge benefits
  5. Make a long-term plan that includes the above permanently –  a new hire to replace the temp within the next 3 months, for example
  6. Offer bonuses and other monetary incentives to help relieve financial pressures

 

Workload shifts

 

Ask your employee if they feel the workload distribution amongst the team is fair. If they say no, ask them for a list of ways they feel it can be altered to better distribute the tasks to everyone’s advantage. Explain to them your reasons for the imbalance, so they feel vested in the decision and understand the reasons.

 

Values and Corporate Policy

 

There is a lot going on right now with Abortion rights, LGBTQ+IA and DEI. IF your corporate policies are not inclusive and People-First, you will most likely continue to see Quiet Quitters more and more as time goes on. Examine your policies to be sure everyone is being treated equitably, fairly and are seen as individuals.

 

Corporate Shifts

 

If there has been a recent merger, acquisition or takeover of your brand or team, employees will most likely feel a sense of loss and abandonment. The hard work they have been doing for years could suddenly be swallowed into a large corporate black hole, making them feel unmotivated and uninspired. Find ways to preserve the work they have done, the brand they loved and the teams they built as long as possible.

 

Manager or Supervisor Changes

 

When great leaders leave a team for whatever reason, employees can be left feeling sad and scared. If the new manager does not appear to have their best interests in mind, team members are not inspired to do their best work for them. Ask, either through surveys or directly, if they are happy with their manager and if not, find out specifics and address them. Poor managers can have an insidious effect on morale.

 

Keep them happy

Whatever their reasons and whatever your reaction, it is important to be sure you truly understand how many of your employees are quiet quitting. If you determine whether you have a few outliers vs entire teams checking out, you will be able to combat it at a macro level to ensure you address the issues. Happy employees are essential to productivity and maintaining a quality workforce. Do what you can to protect yours.

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