Quiet Quitting is in Your Office – Tips to Adjust Your Leadership Accordingly

The Great Resignation, quiet quitting, rage applying, and toxic workplace are HR themes that have been trending for job search. The solution? Employee training and professional development.

by Loralyn & Amrit


Yikes! It’s finally reached YOUR office. Perhaps quiet quitting has been ongoing for some time, but you just confirmed that it’s real. And yes indeed, the impact of quiet quitting on your workplace morale, retention rate, productivity, revenues, and leadership is very, very real.

Feel like you’re alone on an island and in need of a life preserver? Keep reading … because you are not alone. This is the fourth blog in our Quiet Quitting Series where we’ve suggested everything from questions to ask in an interview to tips on how to boost productivity and retention.

In one of our previous blog posts, you read how quiet quitters can cause irreparable damage to your business. And how the slacking phenomenon can bring your organization to its knees leaving owners paying top full-time salaries for part-time work. You also learned what interview questions to ask to identify employees who may turn out to be quiet quitters once they start working for you.

What happens if you have already hired them? How do you manage quiet quitting at your workplace? Let’s explore some options in this blog post.

Overall, productivity in 2022 fell compared to 2020 and 2021. This fall is being attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and to a great extent the virus and sick day total may have played a role, but work ethics are going through a transformation that has drastically reduced overall productivity among businesses. Quiet quitting is a big factor when it comes to why we are seeing this dip in productivity.

Quiet quitting is a tendency to never go beyond your designated job responsibilities. It is doing the bare minimum just not to get fired. A new Gallup study says that 50% of the US workforce may consist of quiet quitters. This statistic should be setting off alarm bells, “YOUR PRODUCTIVITY IS IN PERIL!!!”

On the surface, this may not look problematic because, after all, you are being paid to achieve certain goals and perform specific tasks. The unwritten rule is that whatever you do regarding productivity, going beyond those defined (or sometimes ill-defined) goals and tasks is up to you. If you choose to do more, you should do it because you want to. You are simply showing some initiative and goodwill. If you choose not to do more – but your boss or colleagues are expecting you to do more – you have to ask yourself how much more you are willing to do. Then ask yourself why you are choosing to do more. Or not.

One of the biggest downsides of quiet quitting is that there is no emotional investment in your job. Just imagine spending 6-8 hours at a place you don’t feel connected to, you don’t feel like contributing or taking an initiative. Day after day, week after week, month after month, and tragically, sometimes, year after year. You’re just biding your time. This can cause a big strain on your soul.

More negative traits of quiet quitting include lack of motivation, lack of emotional flexibility, lack of integrity, underdevelopment of skills, no desire for professional development or career advancement, and even long-term depression.

What you don’t see is how this affects everyone else in the organization. Employees who decide to “quit quietly” also discourage other employees from performing their jobs with enthusiasm and passion, which can have a detrimental effect on overall leadership. It can be infectious. They are constantly setting a bad example for other employees. They are the proverbial bad apples.

Quiet quitting can be a manifestation of poor communication

Quiet quitting isn’t always about having a bad attitude toward one’s work. In fact, many experts believe that the current spate of quiet quitting is a retaliation against real and perceived exploitation.

Employees feel used. They feel underappreciated. They think that they are not being rewarded (in terms of salaries and bonuses) according to their input. There are fewer growth opportunities. Intellectual and emotional stimulation is lacking. They are blamed for failures but are never credited and praised for success. This is one way to offset the tendency for quiet quitting – praise and thank your staff for doing good work and openly acknowledge when they go out of their way to do so.

In 2022, the level of engagement with the workforce remained at 32% without any upward movement, but the percentage of disengagement increased, alarmingly, by 18% (Gallup 2022). Most of the quiet quitters are psychologically detached from their jobs. They are “not engaged” regularly by their employees and managers. A big part of these quiet quitters, whether the employees know this or not, are already in the process of looking for another job.

Younger employees, especially those under the age of 35, are bearing the brunt of the fallout in the post-pandemic work environment. Gen Z employees don’t feel cared for by their managers. Many feel abandoned. Even if employers are aware of the heightened needs of their Gen Z staff, somehow, they are unable to talk about it. This lack of communication is leading to increased instances of quiet quitting.


Quiet quitting as an attempt towards achieving work-life balance

Stress on employees has reached unprecedented levels in recent years. The pandemic wreaked havoc in all industries. There is inflation and market volatility. There is a war. Job insecurity keeps people awake at night. Many organizations such as GE and Facebook deliberately create an artificial sense of job insecurity as a strategy to make their employees work harder.

There is heightened sensitivity towards being burdened with too much work. For many, mental wellness and the development of social skills are becoming priorities rather than afterthoughts. They have nothing against their jobs; it’s just that they would rather give preference to their personal life over their work life.


How to manage quiet quitters if you have already hired them?

Firing employees because they are not giving their best should be the last resort because when you fire employees, your organization pays a huge cost. There is the obvious cost of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding (again). That may include a higher salary. There is the cost of morale; how does everyone feel internally with all the churn and the burden placed on them to cover the gap while the position is open again? And there is a potential cost externally with negative reviews on Google and GlassDoor that may negatively impact your ability to recruit replacements. Effective leadership can mitigate these costs by addressing performance issues proactively and providing opportunities for growth and improvement.

In most cases, quiet quitting is just a symptom of a problem that lies somewhere else. You need to go to the root cause of the problem and if you take care of that problem, quiet quitting may not be a major factor in your organization. People want to feel seen. And heard.

Here are a few steps you can take:


Boost the communication skills of your employees and managers

Most of the quiet quitting problems occur due to a communication gap. You can’t just assume that your employees and managers can talk to each other; they need to go beyond exchanging words – they need to communicate so that they are both heard and understood. Talking and communicating are different.

Teach staff how to read cues of distress and discontent. Employees in the lower rungs should be able to talk to their seniors without fear of a blowback and the seniors and managers must be sensitized to get feedback from their juniors and take appropriate measures. Plus, everyone needs to understand that nobody gets exactly everything as they want it when they want it.

You can also set up regular communication sessions where employees can talk to each other about the problems they are facing at their workplace. Communication, including active listening and expressing oneself, is a conscious decision and one of the essential life skills. Unless it is deeply ingrained within your work culture, your employees will need to make an effort to communicate with each other more effectively. Here’s a shameless plug – hire someone (like STEERus!) to help your employees communicate.


Establish a clear reward and accountability mechanism

Every employee is looking for recognition. If their contribution is not recognized and rewarded, they tend to embrace quiet quitting. This is natural and should be expected. If taking the initiative isn’t rewarded, then what’s the point of going out of your way to do anything extra?

Encourage your employees to step out of their comfort zone. Reward them for putting in extra effort. Let it be known to them that their proactive approach to their work will never be looked over. Openly acknowledge that extra effort in front of everyone.

Give them a sense of purpose. Let them decide on crucial issues and minimize micromanaging them. Enable them to make some mistakes and learn from them. Keep a watchful eye and stay involved so that their mistakes aren’t catastrophic, but give them the latitude to learn through trial and error.


Create learning & opportunities for professional development

Create an environment where your employees can upskill themselves. When they have upskilled, give them opportunities to climb up the ladder. The prospect of doing well at their job both in terms of designation and salary can be a great incentive for people to eschew quiet quitting.

But be mindful that this can turn into a rat race. Hence, checks and balances need to be implemented at strategic junctures so that you don’t create an office culture anchored in one-upmanship.

As mentioned above, the biggest causes of quiet quitting are a lack of communication skills and interpersonal relationship skills. Businesses in the US lose almost $37 billion annually due to poor communication among their employees.

The good news is that these soft skills that can be learned. Explore our website further to know how we can help your employees and managers improve their communication skills and catapult your productivity in the process.



Image by Yan Krukau: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-showing-frustrations-on-her-face-4458415/


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