Grace Smith
January 8, 2024

Gallup says that quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce or even more. It means that almost half of the workforce of an entire nation functions at a bare minimum. What does this mean for companies as a whole? Is quitting an actual thing that is capable of dwindling organizational productivity? Let us find out together.

What is Quiet Quitting?

Employee engagement and disengagement are terms that have been with us for decades. But quiet quitting, a more nuanced version of employee disengagement, has risen to fame ever since the colossal event of the COVID-19 pandemic happened.

Quiet quitting is when employees reduce their level of engagement one level at a time until all they do is provide the bare minimum that their job asks of them. There is no extra effort, no proactiveness, no initiative, and basically no drive. All of this doesn't happen overnight. Rather it is a gradual process that is so slow that almost no one notices until it's too late. 

What Makes Someone a Quiet Quitter?

Are there some telltale signs that help managers spot a quiet quitter? If you take the time and effort to look for the following characteristics or warning signs in your employees, you can most definitely spot a quiet quitter.

1. Not interested in professional development

Employees who have resigned themselves to the mindset of the bare minimum would never bother to look for opportunities for professional development in the company. They are okay with what they have in hand right now and are not motivated to look for a better job role within the company.

Unlike engaged employees who continuously strive to upskill themselves, quiet quitters do not like to or want to grow professionally in their current company. 

2. Sudden shift in people dynamics

An easy way to spot a quiet quitter is to observe how they engage with their co-workers and team members. Individuals who have adjusted to the role of being a quiet quitter do not engage themselves in conversations with their team members. There can be a sudden change in the way they behave with their co-workers as well.

An engaged employee takes the time and effort to spend quality time with their teammates, collaborating and working together to achieve team goals. But once the person becomes a quiet quitter, they prefer their own company to being with others. 

3. No more passion for work

An employee who is satisfied with the organization and finds fulfillment in their work would be passionate about what they do. There will not be a sense of dread in them while they carry out their everyday activities. As opposed to this, a quiet quitter will have no more passion left in them to spare for the work they do. 

4. Digital engagement is almost zero

In organizations, there are plenty of chances for digital engagement. Whether it be through official channels of communication like Hangouts and Slack or through LinkedIn posts and other similar platforms. Active and engaged employees are always live on such digital engagement platforms, reacting or commenting to the chats and posts. Quiet quitters could be employees who once were very active on such platforms but suddenly decided against it. 

What Are the Possible Reasons Behind Quiet Quitting?

You now know how to spot a quiet quitter. Although there could be more signs you could look for in one, you have a basic idea now. It’s time to look at the reason behind such occurrences in an organization:

1. Too much office politics

If your workplace does not offer a positive and healthy environment for the employees to work in, they might feel defensive and withdraw into themselves. An office with too much politics and power plays leads to conflicts. It in turn leads to a complicated and uneasy work environment, which makes it impossible to work efficiently.

In such cases, employees feel they might not be able to work at their best and could feel demotivated. As this feeling begins to build day after day, it slowly leads to quiet quitting among employees. 

2. Expectation ≠ Reality

This is such a common reason for quiet quitting. During the interview phase, employees are given an idea of how their everyday life at the organization would be. Based on this description, the employee would have set up certain expectations regarding their work environment and workload. But when they actually start to work for the company, the expectations don't add up to the reality.

It can be a huge disappointment for the employees and could be one of the biggest reasons why employees soon lose their spark. Always make sure that you paint a clear picture regarding what the employee can expect from your organization so that there is no clash between expectation and reality. 

3. Unmanageable workloads

How often have you heard employees complain about their unmanageable workloads? Possibly too often. Employees could really feel burnt out in a corporate environment where the management asks them to do more work than they can manage. There occurs a disruption in the work-life balance of employees, which is actually quite sacred to almost all workforce.

When employees feel like they are overworked and under-compensated, it would be hard to stay motivated and happy in such a workplace. It leads to them quietly withdrawing from putting in the extra effort. It slowly makes them turn into something more or less similar to a quiet quitter.

4. Reduced employee recognition

Most employees find great happiness and satisfaction in situations where their work is recognized and appreciated by their managers or superiors. On the other hand, if excellent work done by employees goes unnoticed, then there is no more motivation left for them to put in that elbow grease and produce an outstanding result. It is actually quite a natural response. A workplace that undermines its employees and focuses only on getting results sooner or later faces the mammoth problem of quiet quitting. 

5. Micromanagement

Nobody likes a manager who breathes down their neck during every task or activity they get done. It is rather irritating. Unfortunately, some organizations do not trust their employees enough to let them do their tasks in their own space.

There is absolutely zero autonomy for employees in such cases. The managers are given full control over supervising the employees, which can lead to employees being unable to exercise their creativity and freedom. It leads to decreased satisfaction and increased disengagement. It is what paves the way for quiet quitting. 

Strategies to Manage Quiet Quitting

We have established the fact that quiet quitting is indeed an unwanted weed. But what next? Looking at the problems and their causes won't get us to the secret behind an engaged workforce. Let us now look at some of the possible steps an organization can take to prevent quiet quitting from taking place:

1. Communicate. Openly.

Communication is a two-way road. It is excellent that you give feedback to your employees. But also leave room for employees to voice their concerns. As long as the employee bothers to raise their concerts over to the manager, there is still hope. As a manager, understand the areas where the employee faces trouble and support them in overcoming the issue. This prevents the employees from turning into quiet quitters. 

Conducting various types of employee surveys frequently, or having one-on-one meetings allows managers to identify areas of improvement, and can help break the ice on certain topics.

2. Provide opportunities for career development

Even when employees themselves do not take any initiative to propel their career to the next level, as a manager, you can take the initiative here. Draw out a career plan or roadmap for your employees. Let them know of the various possibilities for growth they have at the organization. It will give the employees something to look forward to. 

3. Create a safe workspace for employees

Workplace politics is one of the biggest reasons for employees to exhibit signs of quiet quitting, and providing a safe workspace for them can be an excellent way to prevent this from happening.

Have an open-door policy where the employees can approach you anytime to speak about their concerns. It makes employees understand that the company actually cares for their well-being and happiness, apart from seeing them as a means for increased revenue. 

4. Appreciation and recognition

The sureshot way to prevent quiet quitting is to recognize the efforts employees put in and reward them appropriately. I suggest you conduct an employee feedback survey through legit tools like ThriveSparrow, and understand where your employees stand in terms of rewards and recognition. Analyze the types and modes in which employees would prefer to get rewarded.

Then, curate a reward and recognition program that can be conducted every quarter of the year. It not only helps employees see that they are being valued, but it also acts as a motivator for the rest of the employees to work hard and stay motivated. 

Silence is Not Always Golden

Employees who do not state their opinions or raise their concerns might be on their way to becoming a quiet quitter. Just because your employees do not object to your ideas or suggestions, it doesn't mean that they are in complete agreement with you, either. Sometimes, silence can mean a multitude of things.

In a professional setting, it can often mean dissatisfaction and disengagement. Quiet quitting is spreading fast. Protect your employees from this deadly epidemic by closely observing and taking the right action at the right time.