The past few years have seen the rise of a phenomenon known as "quiet quitting" in workplaces worldwide. This quiet resignation trend took off in the early 2020s, but as we enter 2024, it's time to leave it behind.
This article explores actionable advice on how organizations can move from the quiet quitting trend to building an engaged, fulfilled workforce. Let's get started!
What is Quiet Quitting?
Quiet quitting refers to employees who have mentally checked out of their jobs. They decide to stop going above and beyond at work and only perform the bare minimum required not to get fired.
A quiet quitting employee will come in on time, not take on any extra assignments, decline to volunteer for projects, and leave at quitting time. They disengage from the company's social fabric and put in effort just to get by.
This differs from employees who may be burnt out or struggle with their workload. Quiet quitters actively decide to withhold discretionary effort and coast along at work. They are not engaged, passionate, or striving to advance their careers.
7 Common Signs of a Quiet Quitter
- Only working the hours they are paid for, not a minute more
- Declining to take on additional tasks and responsibilities
- Displaying a negative or indifferent attitude
- Calling in sick frequently
- Procrastinating and doing the bare minimum to get by
- Withdrawing from social interactions with colleagues
- Not caring about career development or learning new skills
The quiet quitting mentality became especially popular during the Great Resignation. Employees felt burned out and began questioning old norms about work devotion and hustle culture—this wave of quiet quitting built up through 2022. Now, as we move into 2024, it's time for employers to take action to retain talent.
Why Was Quiet Quitting Trending?
There are a few key reasons why quiet quitting has been trending these last few years.
Burnout from the Pandemic
Many workers who felt the effects of prolonged pandemic stress could not sustain the same level of engagement and productivity as before. This contributed to more employees embracing the quiet quitting mentality of only working within their job descriptions and dialing back extra effort.
The Great Resignation
Alongside pandemic burnout, the Great Resignation paved the way for quitting quietly. Record numbers of employees who left their jobs voluntarily in 2021 and 2022 did so in the hopes of better pay, flexibility, work-life balance, and alignment with their values.
The employees who stayed in their roles began questioning why they should be loyal and commit their all to companies that no longer show the same commitment. Thus, quiet quitting became an act of protest - employees drawing boundaries and no longer subscribing to hustle culture after witnessing the Great Resignation.
Rising Cost of Living
Skyrocketing inflation also bolstered quiet quitting in 2022. As the cost of housing, food, transportation, and utilities rose dramatically, employees felt they had to take on side hustles and multiple jobs to get by.
With less time and mental bandwidth for their regular 9-5 jobs, employees started to shift into a quiet quitting mode where they conserve energy and only work within the scope of their defined roles that pay the bills. The rising COL has left little room for going above and beyond.
Younger Generations' Values
Younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z value work-life balance more than previous generations. After seeing their parents and older cohorts suffer the health effects of overwork and burnout, they want to apply for roles that offer new standards and boundaries around effort and engagement.
This translates into tendencies toward quiet quitting. Younger employees may be more inclined to work to live rather than live to work. They will be less likely to devote well beyond 40 hours a week or sacrifice their mental health and relationships for professional advancement. Their values align more with maintaining equilibrium and calm rather than hustling.
The Tight Labor Market
Finally, the past few years have seen an unusually tight job market called a "worker's economy." With far more open jobs than candidates seeking them, employees gained leverage and options.
Rather than feeling pressure to overperform and exceed expectations to advance their careers, employees in 2022 learned they could get away with quitting and still land a new role if desired. The abundance of job openings has enabled quiet quitting behaviors. Employees can coast without fear of consequences.
Now that we understand why quiet quitting emerged, what is the impact? And how can employers address this trend in 2023?
The Negative Impacts of Quiet Quitting for Organizations
While employees may feel justified embracing quiet quitting after facing burnout or dissatisfaction, this trend bears significant negative impacts:
- Lost Productivity
- Poor Service and Quality
- Higher Turnover
- Reputation Damage
- Lower Morale
- Innovation Declines
- Loss of Competitiveness
The above factors combined result in a loss of competitiveness when rivals have more energized, productive workforces. Companies can’t compete at their full potential with a disengaged employee base plagued by quiet quitting. It threatens long-term viability.
While employees deserve balance, the downstream impacts make quiet quitting unsustainable. So, what proactive steps can companies take?
10 Steps To Avoid Quiet Quitting in 2024
A key element of employee retention and satisfaction lies in empowerment and support. According to Gallup, 70% of these variants are influenced by managers and leaders.
There are many strategies they can implement to reignite employee passion and prevent the quiet quitting trend.
- Work on Improving Manager Relationships
Strengthening trust and communication between individual contributors and their direct managers addresses a leading driver of burnout. Invest in manager training and encourage open dialogues about workloads.
- Make sure to Set Clear Goals
Well-defined goals give employees a sense of purpose and achievement from progress made. Collaborative goal-setting aligns people to organizational priorities while supporting their career growth.
- Offer Hybrid Work Options
Providing the flexibility of when and where people work gives employees more control over their schedules. Hybrid roles help them manage personal responsibilities outside work to avoid burnout.
- Are you recognizing Contributions?
Make sure hard work and extra effort do not go unnoticed. Recognize achievements big and small through monetary incentives, high-visibility awards, and public praise.
- Invest in Professional Development
Support people's continuous learning and career progression through subsidies for courses, credentials, conferences, and stretch assignments on special projects.
- Promote from Within
Prioritizing internal mobility and advancement opportunities over external recruits shows people their efforts can pay off; and make promotion paths transparent.
- What’s the Job? Clarify Roles & Responsibilities
Ensure people understand their scope of responsibilities and priorities so expectations are clear. This avoids perceptions of unfair workloads compared to peers.
- Analyze Engagement Data
Survey employees, run focus groups, monitor turnover, and track productivity metrics. Diagnosing problem areas will contribute to reducing the quitting risk.
- Update Company Values
Review your values and culture to ensure they align with balance, well-being, and employee experience - not just customers and profits. Values must genuinely guide decisions.
- Don’t Tolerate Toxic Leadership Behaviors
Since managers and leaders account for most workplace stress, starting with them is a good idea. While supporting individual contributor growth, be willing to part ways with managers who fuel toxicity or disregard people's well-being. Don't enable bad leadership.
By taking an employee-centric approach and proactively addressing engagement barriers before quiet quitting takes hold, companies can avoid this detrimental trend and leave it behind in 2023.
The quiet quitting phenomenon became prominent across global workplaces after 2020 as pandemic pressures strained engagement. However, this silent resignation trend breeds severe risks from productivity declines to turnover spikes.
As organizations shift focus to recharging culture, restoring work-life balance, and re-recruiting disenchanted talent in the years ahead, they can reverse quiet quitting and leave it behind for good.
Via better communication, clear priorities, support for career growth, flexibility, and compassion from leaders, workforce passion can be reignited, avoiding the aftershocks of quiet quitting while preparing for future disruption.