When a viral TikTok made the term “quiet quitting” famous, it was all anyone talked about.
News articles, LinkedIn posts, and even a subreddit soon sprang up. Some celebrated it as liberating; others condemned it as lazy and ungrateful.
But whatever you think about it, “quiet quitting” is just a label for an age-old phenomenon. And it’s coming to your business—if it’s not there already.
So here, we'll help you understand what quiet quitting is and why it happens. Then, you’ll learn how to prevent it at your company.
What Does “Quiet Quitting” Mean Exactly?
“Quiet quitting” is when employee engagement drops and only does the bare minimum to get by at work. They could be seeking a new job or have simply lost motivation to excel in their position.
While quiet quitting is a new buzzword, it’s only another term for disengaged employees.
Why Do Employees Quiet Quit?
Workers quiet quit for different reasons—often a combination of several. Some of the leading causes are:
- Mediocre management. Managers lacking leadership abilities can’t guide workers with a defined vision and constructive feedback.
- Excessive workloads. Regularly tasking employees with workloads beyond their description makes them feel misled and exploited.
- Lack of remote opportunities. Many people prefer the benefits of remote work over traditional office jobs for its flexibility and no commuting. Being denied remote work frustrates those workers, who often look for another remote job.
- Wage disparity. Platforms like Glassdoor let workers compare their salaries with their peers. If someone discovers they make much less than others in their field, a morale dropoff is almost inevitable.
Another huge factor is the rise of people-first work cultures in younger professionals. A millennial employee posted the original quiet-quitting TikTok, which resonated (and went viral) among workers below 40.
8 Ways to Eliminate Quiet Quitting
Creating an engaging work environment isn't as easy as flipping a switch. It's the result of improvements in several areas over time.
For the fastest results, improve these areas:
1. Celebrate and Reward Achievements
Feeling undervalued will wreck workers' morale in any industry. Without being recognized for the positive impact they’re making, people have no way of knowing their work has meaning.
To combat this, make employee recognition intentional and frequent. Go beyond simple “employee of the month“ awards and express genuine appreciation for every worker.
A Gallup workplace survey found these forms of recognition were most popular with workers:
- Public recognition with a reward or certificate
- One-on-one recognition from a client, peer, or boss
- Promotion or other increase in responsibility to show trust
- Material rewards like prizes, trips, and raises
- Positive evaluations and reviews
Foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable praising each other. This creates a positive feedback loop of rising morale and resulting praise.
2. Make Fair Salaries a Priority
Salary-sharing platforms and new legislation have made earnings disparities more visible than ever. Workers who notice they’re earning less than their peers for similar work will feel undervalued and exploited.
Rather than asking for raises, workers are more likely to look for a new job these days. Their engagement will slump as they see their time at your company coming to a close.
To prevent this, proactively give raises to employees earning less than their peers. You'll lose more money from turnover and quiet quitting than you will from higher salaries.
3. Be Upfront About Workload
There's nothing unusual about teams’ needs changing or roles expanding with time. Giving more responsibility to a talented worker in a given role isn’t unusual, and it’s often necessary.
But if these changes surprise those workers, they may feel overwhelmed and caught off guard. This translates into quiet quitting as they become resentful of the increased workload.
To stop this, be upfront with workers about how their roles may evolve during the interview. Increased responsibilities won't surprise workers if you set expectations early.
For instance, you can mention how a copywriting position may expand to content writing in the future. By setting this expectation in the interview process, you automatically weed out candidates who would disengage when faced with more responsibilities.
4. Respect Work-Life Balance
It’s crucial to get the most out of your employees, but never at the expense of their mental health. Sadly, with only 11% of managers concerned about it, employee burnout is all-too-common and a top cause of quiet quitting.
The people-second mindset hasn't gone unnoticed by professionals, 63% of whom consider work-life balance a top priority when finding a new job. It has to become a priority if your company wants to stop quiet quitting (and remain competitive in recruiting top talent).
Here are a few ways to start:
- Set strict timeframes for work hours
- Have a clear definition of an after-hours emergency
- Offer generous paid time off (PTO) and urge workers to use it
- Intervene when managers push employees to overwork
- Ensure employees know you don’t expect them to communicate after hours
Rested employees are productive employees. When managers see workers pushing themselves, they proactively intervene.
5. Don’t Micromanage Workers
Micromanagement is an easy habit for managers to slip into. When an employee makes a mistake (or does something differently than they would), it’s second nature for many managers to step in immediately.
But when this happens too often, it becomes micromanagement.
Micromanagement demoralizes workers and creates an environment of mistrust. This toxic culture translates to disengaged employees and, of course, quiet quitting.
Resist the urge to hover over workers constantly. While there is a time and place for guidance, it should never spill over into micromanagement.
6. Invest in Employee Growth
Encouraging employees to develop in their careers—and creating opportunities to do so—creates optimism and excitement at work. Offering leadership programs and free training for other skills frames your business as an ideal environment to grow professionally.
Sam Dunning, Co-Owner of Web Choice, helps staff start side gigs to grow their skillset. He urges, “[Encourage] side hustles, be it a podcast, online store or something else. Entrepreneurship is a good thing!"
Employees who know their firm is investing in their future are far less likely to disengage.
7. Provide Regular Performance Reviews
Regular performance reviews give detailed feedback to professionals allowing them to improve on their strengths and weaknesses. They also encourage ongoing, open dialogue with your staff.
Ultimately, these reviews should provide a viable pathway for employees to achieve their career and life goals. Giving professionals a clear path to furthering their careers is instrumental in keeping them engaged.
8. Reduce Meetings
Unnecessary meetings interrupt employees, creating stress as they try to balance their other priorities. This is why over half of professionals feel compelled to multitask during meetings.
Before scheduling a meeting, consider whether it's worth taking time away from people's responsibilities. Also, think about reducing it to an email or Loom video.
If you must schedule a meeting, follow these suggestions:
- Create a clear schedule and follow it
- Allow people to leave meetings once they’ve heard information relevant to them
- Keep meetings under 30 minutes unless more time is absolutely needed
Knowledge workers spend 129 hours in unnecessary meetings each year. This adds to the effects of context switching (losing focus on the task at hand) for disastrous loss of productivity.
Effective Management Training Ends Quiet Quitting
If a single tweak could stop quiet quitting, it would be better management. Great managers keep employees engaged and motivate them to achieve their professional goals.
Without driven leadership, employees feel lost at work and lose motivation. Their duties become chores, and their once-enthusiastic effort fades into indifference.
So if you're facing a quiet quitting crisis, start with training your management to lead employees effectively. GoSkills offers leadership training from award-winning instructors for managers to finish at their own pace.