According to Gallup, at least half of workers in the U.S. are “quiet quitting” – employees who do the bare minimum at work just to get by. As some commenters on social media point out, quiet quitting may just look like “doing your job as defined by the job description,” but it’s actually deeper than that.
Actively disengaged employees affect productivity, morale, company culture and the organization’s bottom line in many ways. Quiet quitters tend not to contribute fresh new ideas and may even drag other employees down with them. Their attitudes may also impact customer satisfaction, as they are less likely to care about how customers feel about the organization.
Learn more about quiet quitting, how to spot it and strategies to prevent it below.
What is quiet quitting?
Sometimes referred to as “slow disengagement,” quiet quitting is the process where employees mentally check out while physically remaining in their roles. It’s characterized by a gradual decline in enthusiasm, motivation and commitment. Unlike regular quitting, where employees vocalize their dissatisfaction or make abrupt exits, quiet quitting occurs in silence, damaging organizational culture and productivity.
Quiet quitters don’t speak up in meetings or volunteer for tasks. They also tend to refuse to work overtime. They may also call out sick or not show up for shifts more often, which can hurt other workers’ productivity by forcing them to take over the quiet quitter’s work.
Why do employees quiet quit?
When an employee quiet quits, it’s usually due to low employee engagement at work. There are several reasons employees may start to quiet quit.
According to Pew Research, one of the main reasons employees quiet quit is due to low pay. As work hours increased due to remote work and other factors, many employees feel they haven’t been compensated for their increased productivity. A growing number of workers also know that CEO pay has increased over 1,200% since 1978 while typical workers have only gained 15.3% in pay in that same time. This has made it difficult for employees to feel justified in going above and beyond for their companies.
No opportunity for advancement
Tied with low pay for a reason to quiet quit is a lack of opportunity in the work environment. Employees may feel stuck in their jobs and no matter how hard they work or how much extra effort they apply, they’ll never get the raise or promotion they feel they’ve earned.
If an employee’s workplace makes them feel disrespected, they may be more likely to quiet quit. Disrespect towards an employee may include micromanaging, second-guessing decisions, redoing work or not listening when they give their input. When team members don’t feel that they are respected by managers or other employees, they’re less likely to be engaged.
Issues at home
Child care is an increasing problem for parents since the pandemic, and many quiet quitters say they had to cut back on work in order to care for their children or other family matters. If an employee’s work schedule is too rigid, they may not be able to take time during the day to pick children up from school or care for them when they’re sick.
Lack of flexibility or choice
Employees generally see a great benefit in being able to work from home or choose when they can do so. As more workplaces have started to demand their workers come into the office full-time, employees have felt a decline in their work-life balance. Employees who don’t feel they have any flexibility or choice in their schedules may also quiet quit out of protest.
Signs of quiet quitting
Quiet quitting isn’t always easy to spot, but if an employee changes their behavior for the worse, it may be a sign of quiet quitting. Look for the following signs:
- Not speaking up in meetings
- Keeping cameras off during video calls
- Refusing to work overtime when other employees are
- Missing deadlines
- Absenteeism or increased PTO usage
- Withdrawing from social activities or team building
- Slow response times to emails or instant messages
7 strategies to prevent quiet quitting
Quiet quitting can have a negative effect on an organization, but there are ways to prevent quiet quitting.
1. Recognize and reward employee achievements
Employees who feel like their work matters are more likely to be engaged and less likely to quiet quit. Whether it’s something monetary like a pay raise, bonus or promotion — or even regular verbal recognition — letting your employees know you appreciate them in concrete ways can help keep them motivated.
2. Offer learning and development opportunities
Give employees a chance to improve their skills and find new meaning in their work through learning and development. Offer to pay for online training courses, college credits or conferences to help employees improve their work for the organization and their sense of personal accomplishment.
3. Foster employee work-life balance
Employees who feel their managers don’t care about their workloads can quickly become disengaged. Create and enforce policies on downtime, workloads and efforts to protect employees’ mental health to make sure workers understand their well-being is important to the company.
4. Provide regular opportunities for feedback
Scheduling quarterly or twice-yearly reviews help employees get greater insight into their work and feel more engaged. This is also an opportunity for employees to make their needs and concerns known to their managers or supervisors.
5. Listen to employees
Employees who hear, “That’s just the way it is,” are more likely to feel they have no agency in their work or to improve the organization. If employees regularly complain about benefits, pay structure or company organization, it’s worth it to find new ways to operate. Even acknowledging there are issues and providing greater insight into why the company operates the way it does can help employees feel heard.
6. Communicate roles and responsibilities clearly
When employees feel they’re given work outside of the scope of their job duties, they may be more likely to quietly quit. Make sure everyone knows what they’re expected to do. And when employees have to take on extra work or responsibilities, make sure they’re compensated for it.
7. Give employees agency
Make sure managers aren’t micromanaging tasks or projects aren’t shut down after employees worked on them for a substantial amount of time. Employees who feel their work matters to the organization are more likely to be engaged. Give employees a chance to come up with creative ideas and provide them with ways to implement them.
Help prevent quiet quitting with ActivTrak
Preventing quiet quitting requires a proactive approach to employee engagement. By understanding what it is, knowing the signs, fostering effective communication, building a positive work environment and implementing employee development programs, companies create a culture that values and nurtures employee engagement. By investing in your workforce, you not only reduce the risk of quiet quitting but also enhance productivity, innovation and overall business success.
Leverage ActivTrak’s employee engagement tools to help prevent quiet quitting in your organization. Spot signs of disengagement and quiet quitting early with data on work habits. Give employees a way to optimize their work habits through data-driven, collaborative conversations. Balance workloads across teams and set engagement goals for your organization, all in one place.
Get a free demo of ActivTrak to see how you can spot and address quiet quitting in your organization today.