Quiet Quitting: What Is It and How Can You Re-Engage Those Employees?

First Financial Bank
Understanding the concept of quiet quitting can refocus your attention on your most valuable asset for delivering quality customer service: your employees. Learn what quiet quitting is and how you can address the problem.

You may have heard the term quiet quitting and think it doesn’t apply to your business. Or does it? The relatively silent nature of how younger employees tend to express their dissatisfaction and disengage from the workplace can undermine your business’ success. Your efforts to grow may be negatively affected by this disconnection. Addressing potential “quiet quitting” may help improve your overall employee morale and retention of quality employees.

What is Quiet Quitting?

In the early 2020s, driven by social media, quiet quitting became a much-publicized trend in the United States. The pandemic played a large part in the departure of employees and the re-evaluation of careers and lifestyles. During the Great Resignation, 71.6 million people left their jobs.

But quiet quitting is more insidious. It refers to employees only doing the bare minimum required at their job and putting in as little effort as possible. The worker doesn’t quit; they stay on the job. For many employees who value a work/life balance, quiet quitting is a way to avoid burnout. For others, it may be a response to a lack of acknowledgment or advancement opportunities within the company, which can decimate employee morale. Some characteristics of quiet quitting:

  • Quiet quitters won’t go beyond what is absolutely necessary to do their jobs. They won’t take on extra assignments, engage in efforts to increase productivity, or work extra shifts, if asked.
  • They may appear apathetic, withdrawn or be “negative” in how they engage (when they do).
  • Their entire focus is outside the workplace on personal lives or other interests. This person will never ask you to learn new things or take on a better role.

Across generations, U.S. employee engagement is falling. According to Gallup, Gen Z and younger millennials (born in 1989 and after) reported the lowest engagement of all.

How to Recognize Quiet Quitting

Long before the term quiet quitting hit the mainstream, the concept itself has always defined a percentage of employees. But the pandemic changed people’s priorities. Evidence suggests that life’s demands (child and eldercare), the rise of remote work, and the appeal of entrepreneurship have driven much of the quiet quitting attitudes. Paying attention to your employee’s behavior is the first step to recognizing the problem of quiet quitting. Some signs of quiet quitting:

  1. An employee seems continuously disengaged.
  2. An employee’s performance is marked by only doing the minimum required.
  3. An employee remains isolated and distant from other members of the team.
  4. An employee is disengaged from tasks, meetings, and other inclusive activities.
  5. An employee attends mandatory meetings but doesn’t engage or participate.
  6. An employee dumps work on other staff members.
  7. An employee demonstrates an obvious lack of enthusiasm.
  8. An employee leaving work early or coming in late, consistently.

Why You Should Be Concerned About Quiet Quitting

The obvious answer to this question is that quiet quitting hurts your productivity, negatively affects your customers, and harms your business. Job dissatisfaction is at an all-time high, and disengaged workers cost the global economy $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. Among the American workforce, quiet quitting is costing businesses 150 billion annually – even more than absenteeism. You can plan around people being out, but not a “seat filler”. Other reasons to be concerned about quiet quitting:

  • A dissatisfied employee negatively affects the work culture and other employees’ morale. The attitude could spread like a virus.
  • Disengaged employees could be a reflection of your company’s culture and expectations. Burned-out employees take more time off, are sicker, and are more prone to alcohol and drug use.
  • A quiet quitter tends to be less loyal to your brand, which carries risks for how they share their disloyalty publicly.
A quiet quitter could become so dissatisfied that they leave your employment. This isn’t necessarily a negative. Finding a more suitable and productive employee could be better, assuming you attend to the potential problems that created the issue.

How to Combat Quiet Quitting

Combating quiet quitting entails a candid look at your business practices and culture. Employee onboarding and retention may have never been more critical than they are today. Some employee engagement strategies:

  • Employees need and want meaning and purpose in their jobs. Create a compelling vision for your business to help them understand how what they do contributes to that success and that ties to their personal success.
  • Impart expectations clearly and transparently. Coach constructively when not achieving expectations.
  • Encourage productive dialogue by implementing regular performance reviews.
  • Promote learning and leadership opportunities.
  • Reward and recognize the work of employees. Celebrate their achievements. This doesn’t have to be expensive – it can simply be publicly expressing kudos or writing a personal note expressing your gratitude for their contributions to your small business.
  • Many of today’s employees expect to have a healthy work/life balance. If possible, incorporate flexible work schedules and paid time off policies.
  • Listen to what your employees need by having an open-door policy that invites positive ideas as well as complaints. No one wants to hear the negative, but it may provide you with insight you can use to correct what’s driving any dissatisfaction.

Use Quiet Quitting to Improve Your Business

Re-evaluate how you do business by employing strategies to combat quiet quitting. Your efforts are likely to improve employee satisfaction, create a better customer experience, and advance your business goals.

Want to discuss your business and growth plans? Let’s chat!


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