Quiet quitting is a new trend where employees mentally check out from their jobs without actually resigning. This article discusses why it’s on the rise, how it impacts employers, and how to deal with it effectively.
Table of contents
- Gallup shows that 50% of the US workforce has been “quiet quitting”—meaning they disengage and mentally check out from work without resigning.
- This has dangerous consequences for employers. It reduces profitability and damages the company’s reputation.
- This article explains why workers are quiet quitting and how to deal with individual cases.
- This article also includes recommendations from an HR expert on ways to prevent quiet quitting in the future. These include offering fair pay and flexible work arrangements.
Lately, many workers are disengaging from their jobs without any prior warning or explanation. Studies show that this is part of a new trend called “quiet quitting.” This is when workers do the bare minimum at work and mentally check out of their jobs without actually resigning.
Quiet quitting results in lower productivity, poor-quality work, and missed opportunities. This damages your reputation with customers and investors and impacts company profitability. What’s more, quiet quitters still occupy a place on your team, leaving less room for new talent.
The pain of seeing your workers lose interest in their jobs worsens when you don’t know what the issue is or how to resolve it. In this article, I explain what quiet quitting is and why it happens. Then, I offer practical solutions for dealing with it effectively.
What Is Quiet Quitting?
Bonnie Whitfield, HR Director at Family Destinations Guide, defines the term “quiet quitting” as “a form of passive resignation, where employees mentally check out from their jobs but continue to show up physically.”
Employees are quiet quitters when they don’t go above and beyond their assigned duties. For example, they won’t work before or after their contracted hours and are unlikely to attend non-mandatory meetings.
They also avoid socializing with the rest of the team and aren’t interested in growing within the company.
Although they fulfill their key duties, quiet quitters are no longer invested in their job or company success.
How did it start trending?
The Los Angeles Times credits career coach Bryan Creely for being the first to use the term on TikTok and YouTube on March 4, 2022. This was roughly six months after a similar concept called “lying flat” originated in China. (“Lying flat” refers to doing the bare minimum in all aspects of life, not just at work.)
Since then, the quiet quitting trend has gone viral on social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn. Users have been openly sharing stories about feeling burned out and how quiet quitting has helped them.
One of these users was Zaid Khan, whose TikTok video went viral with over 3.6 million views.
@zaidleppelin On quiet quitting #workreform ♬ original sound – ruby
In the video, the 24-year-old software engineer and musician says of quiet quitting, “You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.”
What’s causing Quiet Quitting?
A recent Gallup poll showed that 50% of the US workforce is quiet quitting, but quiet quitting is a symptom for more serious underlying issues.
I’ve outlined some key reasons below.
There’s a broader fight against hustle culture
Hustle culture is the idea of overworking and constantly performing at the expense of one’s personal life, health, and well-being. While some people still glorify the trend, many—and especially Gen Z workers—are pushing back.
Among those fighting hustle culture are burned-out employees quiet quitting their jobs. Some workers have even adopted practices such as Bare Minimum Monday. This includes only focusing on work that’s a top priority on Mondays and leaving the rest for later.
Quiet quitting and Bare Minimum Mondays emerged in response to hustle culture and burnout as a way to promote well-being. But many employers worry that workers have now developed a toxic attitude toward work. There’s a risk that they’ve stopped caring about it altogether.
COVID-19 has shifted employee priorities
During COVID-19 lockdowns, people were furloughed, not working, or were engaged in remote work. They had more time to spend with their families, pick up new hobbies, and focus on their health.
This was a big wake-up call on the importance of work-life balance. Recent Microsoft research found that 53% of employees prioritize their mental health and well-being more now than before the pandemic.
As “normal” work resumes, workers strive to maintain boundaries between their professional and personal lives. Quiet quitting is just one of the ways they’re trying to do this.
Workers are “acting their wage”
A recent poll by Monster showed that 60% of workers are quiet quitting because of being underpaid. Many workers say they’re now “acting their wage.” This means employees are unlikely to work beyond their stated job description if they believe they aren’t being fairly compensated.
Employees are bored and unfulfilled
Among the causes of quiet quitting, job satisfaction is a leading concern. Today’s workers want meaningful and challenging work. Boredom and a lack of growth can kill employees’ passion.
Furthermore, workers who can’t find meaning in their work try to find it elsewhere. They rely on job security at their current company but spend more time and energy on side hustles and other purpose-driven activities.
Employees want to avoid toxic environments at all costs
Some workers have conflicts with their manager, poor working relationships with peers, or a clash with company values. Many employees silently retract from work and social interactions to avoid confrontation.
Why Should Employers Be Concerned?
At first glance, the trend seems like an innocent employee well-being tactic. But what does quiet quitting mean for employers?
As it turns out, it can have disastrous consequences for employers, including:
Reduced productivity and increased errors
Quiet quitters are less productive at work and more likely to make costly mistakes. In an attempt to finish up on time, they rush their tasks and avoid checking their work for errors. Moreover, employees who never work beyond their contracted hours may frequently miss deadlines.
All these factors can affect the quality of your services, damage your reputation with customers, and impact your bottom line.
Negative work environment
Quiet quitters can also create a negative work environment. Their lack of involvement and motivation can result in an increased workload for their coworkers. This creates resentment among other team members, putting them at risk of burnout.
Quiet quitters also avoid social interactions and communicating with peers. This weakens working relationships and hampers connectedness within the company.
Lack of innovation and missed opportunities
Employees who focus only on their stated duties may miss great business opportunities. They also won’t innovate or try to improve the company’s products and services. This reduces your competitive advantage and makes it harder to attract investors.
Poor workforce ROI
Quiet quitters continue to earn an income by doing the bare minimum. They also prevent you from hiring new, high-performing talent that truly wants to be there.
However, when quiet quitters do resign, they leave you with a ton of new hire recruiting and onboarding costs.
Overall, they hurt your company’s workforce ROI (return on investment).
How To Identify Quiet Quitters
Identifying quiet quitters isn’t always straightforward. It can be even trickier when your employees work at different times or across different locations.
Kimberley from Resume Worded explains that “employees who are quietly quitting may not speak up about their dissatisfaction or intentions to leave, and they may not exhibit obvious signs of disengagement.”
Even so, looking out for the following signs can help you identify quiet quitters.
Sticking to contractual hours
They refuse to start early or stay late, even when it’s required only occasionally.
They’re slower than usual, punch out before finishing work, or miss deadlines.
Absenteeism and lateness
They clock in late regularly, take unauthorized breaks, or call in sick regularly.
Decreased productivity and quality of work
They don’t meet their goals or their work may not be up to their usual standard.
You might receive poor feedback on their work from customers.
Lack of enthusiasm and initiative
They show little to no interest in their work or the company’s success. You may notice that they don’t try to innovate or improve the company’s offering.
Reduced communication and social interaction
They’re less communicative with peers and managers than usual. Additionally, they avoid non-mandatory meetings and company events.
Less interest in career growth
They show little to no interest in training or career development opportunities.
How To Deal With Existing Quiet Quitters
When you identify a quiet quitter, the first step is to open a two-way line of communication with the individual.
Before putting a strategy in place, you need to give them feedback but also understand their concerns.
What does quiet quitting mean to them?
This is best done in a one-on-one setting. You can check in virtually with an employee who works from a different location or at a different time than you do.
Once you’ve identified the root cause for their disengagement, use my suggested solutions below to address the situation.
Refine their main responsibilities
It’s natural for role requirements to evolve over time. But most employers don’t explicitly state when duties have changed.
If employees are only willing to work on their core responsibilities, it may be time to redefine what these are.
Evaluate the current role requirements against what actually needs to be done, then adjust the requirements accordingly.
Then, clearly communicate these changes to your employees in a meeting, email, or call.
However, ensure you’re not making unreasonable changes without compensating your workers.
Give them purpose-driven, challenging work
When it comes to quiet quitting, job satisfaction initiatives are powerful solutions.
Start by helping employees understand your company’s mission and how their work ties into broader business goals. Employees want to feel that they’re doing work that has a purpose.
Grace He, People & Culture Director of TeamBuilding, says, “Helping employees see the bigger picture and potential future opportunities for growth within the organization goes a long way towards building employee engagement and retention.”
Also, check in with workers to ensure that they’re being challenged and stimulated at work.
Offer training to upskill or cross-skill employees who are bored in their current positions. You can even consider moving them to a different role.
Motivate them with recognition and incentives—but be careful
Recognize and reward your quiet quitters when they do a good job. This can help them feel valued or appreciated, encouraging them to become more engaged at work.
However, be careful with this. You want to boost motivation without reinforcing their poor behavior or creating resentment in the team.
I recommend recognizing quiet quitters’ good work only in a private setting initially. This way, other employees will be less frustrated about quiet quitters getting praised for their work.
Also, avoid offering salary increases or cash bonuses to motivate quiet quitters. This may set the wrong precedent for other employees. Non-monetary rewards like additional days off are great alternatives.
Provide additional support
Ensure that you’re not engaging in quiet firing. This is when employers fail to provide the required support to employees, indirectly pushing them out the door.
For workers struggling with their job, provide them with a coach or mentor for additional support.
On the other hand, employees sometimes quiet quit for non-work related reasons such as physical or mental health concerns. You can offer assistance through an internal or external employee assistance program.
If all else fails, take formal action
You might want to consider taking disciplinary action if no other strategy helps. Issue a warning about unacceptable behaviors such as consistent lateness or absenteeism.
You can also put quiet quitters on a performance improvement process to provide clear goals and track their progress.
You may need to consider serious consequences, such as terminating employment, if all else fails.
Tips For Preventing Quiet Quitting in the Future
It’s not enough to deal with existing quiet quitters. You must also have a long-term strategy in place to prevent it from occurring in the future.
I’ve outlined some effective strategies below.
Compensate them fairly
Pay employees accordingly if they need to go above and beyond their current responsibilities. For instance, you can provide a pay raise or annual bonus.
Consider alternative incentives if your company doesn’t have the budget for monetary ones. For example, offer gift cards or perks like team outings.
Communicate openly and frequently
Maintain an open, two-way line of communication where you and your employees can provide each other with feedback.
Do this through employee surveys, focus groups, work chats, and feedback sessions.
Alex Ugarte, Marketing and People Manager at London Office Spaces, explains that “creating a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns” helps “business leaders identify potential issues early on before they escalate.”
Keep employees engaged and connected to company goals
Consistently remind workers of the company’s purpose and how their work contributes to success. Involve them in business decisions using online polls or focus groups.
This is a great way to make everyone feel included, no matter where or when they work.
Further, recognize employees for good performance. For example, offer rewards such as an employee-of-the-month award to motivate workers to excel.
Finally, offer training and professional development opportunities to help employees grow at your organization. Give them ownership of their tasks and support them without micromanaging.
Offer better work-life balance
While there are many root causes for the trend, what is quiet quitting really telling us?
David Walter, CEO at Electrician Mentor, believes quiet quitting “stems from the fact that most decent-paying jobs today are rather stressful and they make it hard to maintain a quality personal life.”
To address this, consider offering more paid time off, breaks, and even mental health days. You can also provide flexible work arrangements, such as letting employees pick their own shifts. This can help guarantee workers get the time they need outside of work.
Giving employees more time for their personal lives keeps them engaged, energized, and loyal to the company.
My advice: To prevent and address quiet quitting, use an all-in-one employee management app like Connecteam. It has a GPS-enabled time clock, attendance reporting, and engagement tracking tools. These will help to identify and track quiet quitters.
Connecteam also offers surveys, recognition and rewards features, and training tools to make your team feel valued and motivated. You can also offer flexible working with Connecteam’s easy drag-and-drop scheduling function and shift-swapping feature. Try Connecteam out today by signing up for a free trial.
Quiet quitting, meaning silent disengagement from work, is when employees are still in their jobs but do only the bare minimum required of them. They avoid non-mandatory work, meetings, and social interactions. This creates more time for their personal interests, side hustles, or finding other jobs.
The trend started off as a way to fight burnout. But it has many negative consequences for both employers and employees. Quiet quitters impact company profitability and stunt their own career growth and progression.
To tackle quiet quitting effectively, you need to understand its underlying causes. In this article, I’ve explained why it’s happening and what you can do to fix it. Adopting these strategies will help you maintain a stable workforce and boost productivity.