Quiet Quitting – Keep an Eye Out for Red Flags

Quiet Quitting – Keep an Eye Out for Red Flags

One of the buzzing trends among business leaders these last few months has been the newer phenomenon that many are calling “quiet quitting.” If this has been happening in your company, it could be costing you money. So, let’s take a moment to run down some of the key aspects of this problem, red flags to watch out for, and steps you can take to stop it from hurting your business.


What is Quiet Quitting?

First thing’s first, what is quiet quitting? The term is a little misleading in that it doesn’t involve employees actually quitting their jobs. Quiet quitting is when an employee decides to stop performing tasks they feel are outside the scope of their job description. They stop going “above and beyond,” so to speak, and instead focus on the minimum responsibilities expected for their role.

This will frequently be accompanied by behaviors such as not putting in any extra hours, not responding to any communications after work periods, disengagement from work, and quality reductions.

The causes that led to the quiet quitting trend arose from the workplace culture shifts that have occurred over the last few years. The Great Resignation brought about a lot of turnover for companies, and many remaining employees were stuck with having to pick up the slack. When these extra efforts were met without rewards, the drive and dedication of these individuals became eroded.

In a larger sense, this discontent has been brewing for some time. Historically, the American workforce has always believed that extra effort would be rewarded in the end, but that has not been the case for many current employees. Industries have persistently made efforts to do more with less – or operate leaner. And that, combined with the national conversation about how work should fit into a balanced lifestyle, has led employees to reevaluate their willingness to work harder in the absence of clear reward.

32% of full- and part-time employees are engaged in their work, while 17% are actively disengaged. (Source: Gallup, Apr. 2022).


How to Identify Quiet Quitting.

Despite the fact that quiet quitting will almost certainly have an effect on productivity and workflow, it can be a surprisingly tricky thing to spot at times. It’s not always obvious or overt, and many employers may not notice that it’s happening initially until other team members start to point out some of the gaps.

But since this goes hand in hand with disengagement, there are specific red flags to look out for that can tell you when quiet quitting may be occurring:

  • Low Motivation or Initiative – Things like presenteeism, absenteeism, wasted time, and frequent breaks are usually clear signs that an individual doesn’t care much about their work. Also, the quality of their work output can reflect a great deal about how much care went into it.
  • Withdrawal – Low participation rates for things like team events or social gatherings are indications that work isn’t a priority for employees. Also note that silence in discussions or meetings is another sign of withdrawal.
  • Skipping Professional Development – When an individual chooses to pass up professional development opportunities, it could signal they don’t care very much about their role. Engaged employees tend to want to learn all they can and develop their skills.
  • Forgoing Any Extra Tasks/Steps – This can be a tough one to spot, because it’s not always obvious. Employers may not always be able to observe the extra above-and-beyond tasks that employees perform each day, but their omission will eventually be felt. For example, a designer might take the extra step of following up with a client after a project is complete to ensure their satisfaction with the outcome. That follow-up isn’t required of the designer, but it does add value to that client interaction. If the designer were to stop these kinds of activities, it could weaken your company’s customer experiences.


How to Correct or Prevent the Problem.

Luckily, quiet quitting is a simple and generally inexpensive thing to prevent or correct. It’s all about making the employee feel valued. Some of the best ways to achieve this are to provide measures of support and autonomy, which in turn will boost job satisfaction and help improve engagement.

In this effort, it’s important to note that direct compensation isn’t always the best answer. Pay raises, for example, aren’t a cure-all. Numerous national sources have shown that a majority of employees would prefer things like additional benefits or perks over raises.

A few suggestions include:

  • Making Employees Feel Heard – Might sound simple, but it’s a great way to make employees feel important. Take the time to talk to your people – organically, not forced – and discuss how things are going for them. Encourage their ideas and find out what they’re really interested in about their work. By prioritizing those interests, employers can increase engagement.
  • Supporting Employees – Innovative benefit offerings that support the whole picture of an employee’s life can significantly build a sense of being valued. The companies most successful in this regard offer creative benefits like support for caregiving adults, financial wellbeing and literacy programs, academic and professional development support, and others.
  • Increasing Autonomy – There’s a direct correlation between the amount of autonomy a person has over their job and their level of job satisfaction. There can also be a major boost to an employee’s health and well-being too. By giving people more control over their roles, companies have a lot to gain.
  • Adding Flexibility – One of the top things that employees want is greater flexibility for when, where, and how they work. National sources have found that a majority of workers will almost always take the opportunity to work flexibly when it’s offered. This provides better work-life balance, which in turn has been shown to increase engagement.


Avoid Quiet Quitting

For companies that need to get the best work out of their employees, quiet quitting can be a very costly headache. But fortunately, mitigating this issue is very possible in most cases. Through early identification and a greater emphasis on valuing employees, business leaders will have the capacity to reverse the trend of quiet quitting and create highly engaged employees that are willing to go that extra mile for their companies.

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Category Cover Story, Features