Quiet quitting is becoming more common in workplaces nowadays, especially in digital and remote-first companies. More employees disengage from their jobs without openly expressing their feelings. What this means is that more people are doing “the bare minimum” to maintain their role but not actively progress or contribute to it.
However, unlike popular belief, it’s not just Gen z who are quiet quitting. And it’s definitely not because of a character fault. Six out of 10 employees are emotionally detached from work. Yet most people want purpose and meaning from it. This raises important questions: Why is it happening? What are the signs of quiet quitting? What can managers and employees do if coworkers are ‘quiet quitting’? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get your team thriving again.
What you’ll learn:
- What is quiet quitting?
- Signs of quiet quitting
- Who is quiet quitting?
- The impact of disengaged employees
- What to do if your team is quiet quitting
Quiet quitting happens when employees disengage from their jobs, both mentally and emotionally, without vocalizing how they feel. Instead of resigning, they continue to perform their duties on the surface but become disconnected with their work. This silent “quitting” can severely impact team dynamics, productivity, and overall company success.
However, unlike popular belief, quiet quitting is not a reflection of character. The way employers treat employees at work directly influences their response. 86% of employees say they care about their company’s success, but 39% say their company doesn’t care about them.
The term was originally coined by a Gen Z TikToker, and while quiet quitting is commonly attributed to Gen Z, it’s not limited to a specific age group. Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace report which surveyed 1,22,416 workers ages 15 and up globally, found that 59% are quiet quitting.
In fact, the majority of quiet quitters are likely somewhere in the middle of their career, between the age of 35-44. 24% of this group say they don’t do more than what’s expected of them. On the flip side, only 17% of 18-24 year olds, 18% of 45-54 year olds, and 7% of those over 54 say the same.
The first step to managing quiet quitting is looking out for a change in behavior in employees. How do quiet quietters behave in the workplace? Below are some of the most common signs of quiet quitting that may require intervention to reconduct the work environment:
- Reduced Interaction: Quiet quitters tend to withdraw from team discussions and social interactions, preferring to keep to themselves.
- Lack of enthusiasm: they may be less excited to take on new challenges and lack initiative in their work.
- Poor Performance: Quiet quitters may experience declining productivity and subpar performance levels compared to their past achievements.
- Emotional Detachment: They may appear emotionally distant and disinterested, lacking the passion they once displayed for their roles.
- More missed days: Quiet quitters may start taking more sick days or as a way to escape their disheartening work environment.
Quiet quitting impacts all parties involved. Disengaged employees miss on their potential, lack a sense of purpose and grow feelings of isolation. All in all, it impacts a person’s self-confidence. For an organization, there is a direct impact on revenue, innovation and company culture. With no team members to collaborate or lean on, newcomers will likely feel unwelcome or discouraged. Here’s a few challenges that companies with quiet quietters will face:
- Reduced Productivity: Disengaged employees are less productive, leading to a decrease in overall team efficiency.
- Higher employee turnover: If management doesn’t improve, quiet quitting can turn into actual resignations, leading to lots of employees leaving. A simple way to reduce this is by introducing an engaging onboarding program.
- Negative Workplace Culture: A culture of disengagement and indifference may spread throughout the organization, affecting employee morale. This is especially problematic when going through a period of growth, as new team members will need more support from coworkers to find their feet. If their team members are doing the bare minimum, what standards are set for them?
At first, “re-engaging” team members can look like a daunting task. But it’s just a step by step process that requires careful attention from direct management and an individualized approach that makes employees feel heard, cared for and supported.
Quiet quitters have likely gotten to a point of disengagement because they haven’t had the support and opportunities from direct management. So here are a few ways you can introduce that support to both employees, and managers in charge of their performance:
- Address manager engagement and introduce training. According to Gallup, two in three managers disengage at work. To keep them focused, bring in management training initiatives to create a ripple effect of motivation, progress tracking and productivity.
- Regular touch points between managers and employees. Especially for those remote-first teams, human contact is a basic need. Weekly calls and checkpoints give employees clarity and motivation to complete tasks in time to receive feedback.
- Set Measurable Goals. What doesn’t get tracked, doesn’t get measured. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and checkpoints to track individual and team achievements effectively. Then make sure managers create accountability for individuals’ performance.
- Address Skill Gaps: Identify areas where team members may need additional training or support, and create opportunities for skill development. Employees who have the opportunity to learn and grow are more likely to feel engaged and fulfilled in their work.
- Promote Work-Life Balance: Burnout results in chronic stress and low productivity. This is where quiet quitting becomes a coping mechanism. Promote managers to maintain healthy boundaries between work and personal life to encourage their teams to do the same.
So which one is it: are gen z quiet quitting, or is it poor management? What we’ve learnt is that, first of all, it’s not just the younger generation who feel disengaged at work, it’s everyone. Secondly, we’ve discovered that quiet quitting is a growing workplace issue resulting from poor management and negative work environments.
These disengaged employees are less productive, more likely to leave and more likely to contribute to negative workplace cultures. Organizations must create conducive work environments and foster a sense of purpose and meaning in employees’ roles. The simplest way to do this is by addressing management within your team. The more engaged, motivated and prepared team leaders are, the more likely they are to support employees to reach their goals.
WeSchool is the most user-friendly and easy to use learning management system in the market, and it’s perfect for teams who are introducing in-house training on an ad-hoc basis. Examples of this include company policy training for managers or key steps in onboarding team members effectively, making it ideal for teams who are experiencing disengaged employees and are looking to bring back motivation through training.
To learn more about how to create effective training experiences that support re-engaging your disengaged employees, check out our latest webinar on how to create courses with clear goals to track your team’s performance.