Quiet Quitting: What It Is and How to Stop It
By Hanna Marcus
There is a new phenomenon sweeping the workforce as of late. It is not a marketing move, a hiring trend, or a tactic for keeping workers engaged and happy. Instead, it is a quiet, almost gentle nudge that is coming from across the workforce.
Enter the era of quiet quitting.
While it sounds diminutive, it is actually a very damaging wave that has impacted a large portion of the workforce over the last few years.
What quiet quitting lacks in brashness and gumption it makes up for in its invisibility and potential to lower morale. Quiet quitting, in essence, is not about quitting a job entirely. Employees are not throwing their hands up, putting in their two weeks, and walking out in a storm. Instead, quiet quitting has almost nothing to do with resigning from a job at all – rather, it is about resigning to give something your all-out effort.
To put it simply, quiet quitting is the choice to quit going above and beyond at a place of work. Quiet quitters are less likely to stay late, show up early, or attend non-mandatory meetings. In other words, quiet quitters are making the choice to opt out of tasks that go above and beyond their assigned responsibilities.
According to Gallup, quiet quitters make up about 50% of the United State’s workforce. That means it is highly likely that you know someone who has decided to quiet quit, at least in part, at their job.
But what exactly is quiet quitting – what does it look like in practice? Does it end up doing more damage to an organization than an employee actually quitting their job?
Further – and most importantly – what is the driving force behind quiet quitting in an organization? And what can we do to support people better in order to avoid not just quiet quitting, but the need for it in the first place?
What is Quiet Quitting?
According to Harvard Business Review, quiet quitting is described as being driven by a lot of the same underlying factors as actual resignations. The difference?
“...Quiet quitting refers to opting out of tasks beyond one’s assigned duties and/or becoming less psychologically invested in work. Quiet quitters continue to fulfill their primary responsibilities, but they are less willing to engage in activities known as citizenship behaviors…”
In many ways, quiet quitting is a slap in the face of a workplace phenomenon known as hustle culture. Employees are not going to quit their assigned, regular duties at their job, but they are not going to subscribe to the mentality that promotes above-and-beyond behavior.
An article from NPR.org states that “quiet quitting, in other words, is not really about quitting. It’s more like a philosophy for doing the bare minimum at your job.”
Is Quiet Quitting Worse Than Actual Quitting?
The answer to this question will vary base on who you ask, but at The Joshua Group, we think that quiet quitting, in many ways, is worse than traditional quilting.
This is not because employees are not giving all their spare time to the business, and it is not because they are not investing everything they have into the organization.
It is because if quiet quitting is happening, that means there are signs of a bigger problem with the workplace culture.
The bare minimum is not something that managers desire from their employees, but an environment of over-expectation, overwork, and improper work balance is not something employees expect from their managers, either.
In order to avoid quiet quitting altogether, we need to avoid the need for quiet quitting in the first place.
This marked move away from hustle culture and toward the phenomenon of quiet quitting is a reevaluation of the idea that work is life.
According to Gallup, quiet quitting also has a lot to do with the events of 2020-2022: the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work, and The Great Resignation.
“The drop in engagement began in the second half of 2021 and was concurrent with the rise in job resignations,” according to Gallup. “The overall decline was especially related to clarity of expectations, opportunities to learn and grow, feeling cared about, and a connection to the organization's mission or purpose – signaling a growing disconnect between employees and their employers.”
Ultimately, though, there are many factors we can point the blame at for quiet quitting, but management and a lack of focus on workplace culture are two that we believe to be key. In our eyes, that is what makes quiet quitting so much worse than traditional, “loud” quitting.
How to Avoid Quiet Quitting in Your Organization
Hire for the Long Haul: How you cultivate your team is just as important as how you plan to support your team. Reevaluating your hiring techniques, how you search for the right members for your crew, and knowing how to hire for the long haul can set your company culture up for success from the start.
Take a More Hands-On Management Approach: Being a leader is about actually leading – it is not just about the title, but rather about empowering your team to be able to do their job correctly. Being a strong, communicative, and effective leader can help you support your team in more ways than one.
Foster a Manageable Work-Life Balance: One of the reasons quiet quitting has become such a phenomenon is that people are tired of the hustle culture that demands they give work their all 100% of the time. This is hugely representative of the lack of work-life balance in workplaces. As a manager or leader, it is your job to ensure your team is empowered to manage this balance. Work is not life – and it is crucial that you are supporting your teams in ways that make this evident to them.
Listen to Your Employees: An open-door policy for your employees can make a huge difference in workplace culture. Not only will your employees trust you, but they will also understand that you will listen to their complaints, ideas, and requests. If you are a leader who actually and actively listens, your employees will know to come to you when they feel they are being underrepresented or unheard. When you work together, you can correct work-life imbalances.
Create a Culture That Is Supportive: Quiet quitters are opting out of going above and beyond for a lot of reasons, but at the root of it, they are tired of giving it all to a corporation that does not care about them. Extracting the best out of your employees – their most productive, most creative, most successful versions of themselves – is not just good for you; it is good for them. But you cannot help them get there without creating a culture that is safe, supportive, and on their side.
Whether you are trying to manage quiet quitting in your organization, are seeking to re-engage and inspire your employees, or simply want to learn how to create and cultivate a healthy workplace culture, we can help. Reach out to one of our consultants to discuss how we can help you, your team, and your business thrive!