Quiet Quitting: Why It Happens and What to Do About It - Dignify
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Quiet Quitting: Why It Happens and What to Do About It

Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - Dignify

Shot of a young businessman looking tired while working on a computer in an office at night

“Quiet quitting” has been a hot buzz term recently. The term refers to the concept of an employee staying in their job but avoiding doing anything more than the bare minimum to get by. For one reason or another, they lose their motivation to put in any more effort or thought into their work than is absolutely necessary. In doing so, they retain their job and often meet performance expectations, but never take any extra steps to go above and beyond. Obviously, this behavior can present problems for themselves, their leaders, and their employers.

Luckily, there are plenty of methods a leader can use to get ahead of the issue. These methods include but are not limited to sending out surveys to gauge people’s attitudes and checking on their feelings and engagement level regularly in one-on-one meetings. Most importantly, empathize with them, understand their situations, and seek a deeper understanding of why they might be quietly quitting.

Dialogue around quiet quitting sometimes tends to focus on making a commentary on an employee’s character. Some are convinced in their view that quiet quitters as lazy, irresponsible, and uncaring. Meanwhile, they are either unaware or unwilling to accept the reality of why it is that employees engage in quiet quitting behavior. Research shows that quiet quitting behavior has a lot more to do with stress and leadership quality than the character of the employee.

Data from a survey of over 13,000 employees and over 2,800 managers conducted by Zenger/Folkman analysts shows that the worst ranked managers had 14% of their employees quietly quitting, with only 20% of their employees willing to “go the extra mile.” Meanwhile, the best rated managers had only 3% of their employees quietly quitting, and a staggering 62% willing to put forth extra effort (Zenger and Folkman).

Meanwhile, employees are experiencing increased stress and burnout at notably higher rates for a multitude of reasons. External factors causing employees to burn out include an unpredictable economy and social unrest (Llopis). A Deloitte survey of 1,000 American professionals revealed that 77% of respondents reported experiencing burnout at their current job (Fisher).

A leader has a choice to make on how they address the issue of quiet quitting. They can insist on blaming the employees in question while making assumptions about their character, or they can take a proactive approach to building a workplace environment that motivates employees to do their best rather than the bare minimum. Only the latter approach solves the issue at its core, allows for growth in a leader and their employees, and helps an organization’s bottom line.

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman write that the number one most important factor in addressing the issue is building trust, based on their survey of over 113,000 leaders. By cultivating positive relationships, being consistent, and showing expertise, leaders can earn the trust of their reports and decrease the possibility of them quiet quitting (Zenger and Folkman). Additionally, Glenn Llopis recommends that leaders go out of their way to “humanize work.” By creating a healthy work environment that fulfills employees for who they are, leaders can motivate their employees to a new level and naturally mitigate quiet quitting (Llopis).

Fisher, Jen. “Workplace Burnout Survey: Burnout without borders” [Article]. Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/burnout-survey.html [Accessed March 6, 2023]

Llopis, Glenn (2022). “The Cure For ‘Quiet Quitting’: Humanize Work” [Article]. 21 September, 2022. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2022/09/21/the-cure-for-quiet-quitting-humanize-work/ [Accessed March 6, 2023]

Zenger, Jack and Folkman, Joseph (2022). “Quiet Quitting Is About Bad Bosses, Not About Bad Employees” [Article]. 31 August, 2022. https://hbr.org/2022/08/quiet-quitting-is-about-bad-bosses-not-bad-employees [Accessed March 6, 2023]

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