What is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting has been recognized as a popular trend among employees in many industries. Quiet quitting has also been called “silent resignation” and occurs when an employee becomes disengaged from their work and quietly disengages from the workplace, without officially resigning. This phenomenon can be detrimental to workplace productivity, morale, and culture, as well as to the individual employee’s well-being.


How Does Quiet Quitting Work?

Successful employees can begin to withdraw from their usual daily tasks and can begin overlooking mistakes on paperwork, coming in late, or not participating in meetings like they once did. This is quiet quitting. It can be difficult to spot quiet quitting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here are a few examples:


  • John would submit 11 documents a day when the required amount was 8. In the past two months, John has only been submitting 8 documents to his supervisor. John has started to only submit the required amount of work.


  • Linda is a salaried employee and has been with her company for 4 years. Linda was always at work on time and left the office at her scheduled work time. Over the past month, Linda has been coming in 25 minutes late, and leaving the office almost an hour earlier than scheduled.


  • Christy has been with her employer for 6 years and has been a successful employee. Over the past 2 months, she has been calling out of work 1-2 days a week.


Trends in Quiet Quitting

In 2023, quiet quitting is “alive and well” in the workplace, but there is another trend on the rise among quiet quitters: bare minimum Mondays. There has been a backlash against “hustle culture” with some employees lowering the bar for Monday mornings with “bare minimum Mondays.” This idea has been coined to address the stress of going back to work on Monday morning; and encourages employees to take a step back from being “overly productive” so they can ease into the work week.


However, this ideology can negatively impact the employees and the team. For example, if one employee is postponing Monday tasks that impact a Tuesday deadline, team projects may be negatively impacted. Some individuals who engage in bare minimum Mondays do not join meetings or take calls during their Monday workday. Over time, the employee may become overwhelmed due to procrastinating their workload and may cause tension with their peers if missing meetings and phone calls occur.

Click here to read more on bare minimum Mondays.


Why Are People Quiet Quitting?

There are several reasons why employees may disengage from their work and quietly quit their job. Some examples include:


  • Lack of Recognition: Employees who feel undervalued or unappreciated may become disengaged and start to withdraw from their work. If a company has an employee who consistently goes above and beyond and is never recognized, they may begin to wonder why they are putting in the extra effort.


  • Burnout: Overwork, stress, and a lack of work-life balance can lead to burnout and disengagement, causing employees to lose their passion for their work and quit quietly. Are your employees constantly bringing their office work home, when work should stay in the office? When the boundaries of work/life balance are overstepped, this can cause strain on your employees’ stress levels, leading to burnout.


  • Poor Management: A lack of clear communication, feedback, and direction from management can leave employees feeling confused and unguided, leading to disengagement and silent resignation. Are managers micro-managing employees? Have clear expectations of work assignments and procedures been established? Employees can become uncomfortable and feel on edge if management is poor and they are left to figure things out for themselves.


  • Toxic Workplace Culture: A negative or toxic workplace culture can cause employees to feel demotivated and disengaged, leading to quiet quitting as a way to escape. Is your company experiencing rapid turnover? Have there been issues of harassment or other signs of workplace toxicity?


How To Prevent Quiet Quitting in the Workplace

If you have noticed your employees becoming disengaged and believe they may be in the process of quiet quitting, there are steps you can take to address the issue and get you and your team back on the right path. To prevent quiet quitting, employers can take the following steps:


  • Foster a Positive Workplace Culture: Create a supportive, inclusive, and positive workplace culture where employees feel valued, respected, and appreciated. This can be achieved through regular feedback, recognition, and employee engagement activities.


  • Encourage Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by promoting flexible work arrangements, setting reasonable work hours, and providing mental health resources.


  • Provide Clear Communication and Direction: Ensure that employees have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and goals. Regular check-ins and clear communication can help employees feel supported and motivated.


  • Conduct Exit Interviews: Conduct exit interviews to identify any issues that may be causing employees to disengage and quit quietly. This can help employers identify areas for improvement and make changes to prevent future instances of quiet quitting.


  • Open Conversation: Approach the employees you are concerned about and have an open dialogue about their performance. Discussing their previous work ethic and comparing their current performance can open the door to various reasons why your employee has become disengaged. Are they going through personal issues? Have they realized this field is not the right fit? This approach can help you determine the right path to addressing the situation.


Can I discipline my employees who are quiet quitting?

There is a fine line when disciplining an employee who is quiet quitting. Rather than jumping into a disciplinary conversation, management should review the employee’s completed work to determine if the employee is meeting job expectations. If the employee completes all tasks and meets expectations, but you notice they are disconnected from the workplace, have a conversation. If you have a new employee who appears disengaged, discuss how their current performance is lower than what you believed it would be during their interview. Ask your employee how you and the organization can support them to excel in their position and ask what goals they may have for their position.


How to Get Help with Quiet Quitting:

For ideas on identifying disengaged employees in your workplace and boosting engaging, Check out this ESC blog post.  This article also provides great insight into preventing and combating quiet quitting in the workplace.


ESC is partnering with a local law firm to host a seminar on June 6.  Among other topics, we will be discussing employee burnout.  Please join us to learn more about this important topic!


Our team of HR experts at ESC can help your leadership team develop a plan to any of issues discussed in this post.  Feel free to reach out to us for a one-on-one conversation to discuss and options.