Welcome to volume 6 of alfii’s What The Buzz series. With this blog series, our goal is to ensure you stay up-to-date with the latest buzzwords that are gaining popularity in the world of work— whether it be LinkedIn statuses, blogs, articles, or memes, we’re always on the lookout for the hottest industry terms! Each month, we run a poll on our LinkedIn page, and based off of your votes, we analyze and explain a specific buzzword.
This month’s winner is quiet quitting. This term was coined in March 2022 by Gen-X career coach and employment influencer, Brian Creely, and shortly after emerged as a new phenomenon in the modern workplace. Quiet quitting refers to a situation where someone is slowly and subtly disengaging from their job or responsibilities without actually formally resigning. Think of it as a low-key way of expressing dissatisfaction or frustration without making a statement around it. People might start reducing their efforts, avoiding extra tasks, or just mentally checking out. And guess what? According to research by Gallup, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce, if not more!
In this article, we will delve into the origins of quiet quitting, explore its impact on the workplace, and provide practical strategies for employers and employees to address this issue effectively.
Defining the term “Quiet Quitting”
Quiet quitting refers to a subtle form of disengagement that employees adopt while physically remaining in their positions. Individuals mentally and emotionally check out from their work, resulting in a decline in motivation, enthusiasm, and initiative. Quiet quitting is often a response to excessive micromanagement, a lack of autonomy, lack of appreciation, or unfulfilling work. When this happens, employers are likely to see a drop in productivity and overall performance, and all of this ultimately contributes to a challenging work environment.
The reasons for an employee to slip into quiet quitting are plenty—sometimes it could be related to bad management, disconnection and misalignment from personal goals, mental health, and the list goes on. It’s important to remember that finding solutions to the causes will benefit everyone much more than ruminating over the causes.
Now, let’s get into it:
Here are some signs of quiet quitting:
- Loss of interest in one’s role or the company they work for.
- Gradual withdrawal of energy and effort, sometimes happening unintentionally.
- A lack of genuine enthusiasm and commitment to tasks.
- An employee that is unhappy with their job but not voicing it and not actively quitting.
- Loss of motivation to seek further opportunities for growth and development.
- Putting in the bare minimum in terms of effort and working hours.
- A diminished desire to collaborate with others and contribute to collective goals.
- Reduced productivity, missed deadlines.
- Loss of inspiration and creativity.
- A decreased inclination to take initiative and proactively solve problems that arise in the work environment.
Don’t mistake quiet quitting for:
- An isolated phenomenon or an issue that’s exclusive to a single employee—this can happen across the board, from frontline employees all the way to management.
- Introversion or a preference for solitude.
- A deliberate intention to harm the organization or sabotage colleagues.
- Something that’s driven by malicious intent, rather than workplace factors.
- Lack of skills or competence.
- An inherent personality trait or a fixed characteristic
- A problem with no solution—quiet quitting can be potentially reversed.
Here's how quiet quitting impacts employers:
- A drop in employee productivity and efficiency: when employees aren’t giving their best, it slows things down, and this can have a domino effect if it’s not detected and resolved early on.
- Damaged team morale and collective energy: when some team members quietly check out, it can be a downer on team spirit and no employer wants that.
- Increased turnover and difficulty retaining talented employees: quiet quitting makes it harder to keep talented employees. If they’re feeling disengaged, they’re likely to start looking for greener pastures.
- Potential harm to the company's reputation and bottom line: if quiet quitting becomes widespread, it can damage the company's reputation. Poor work quality due to resentful or disgruntled employees may lead to unhappy customers and a hit to the company's bottom line.
Employers, here's how to prevent quiet quitting in your company:
- Communication is key: foster a culture of trust, transparency, and open communication. Laying things out on the table through healthy communication can do wonders to create mutual understanding. Sometimes, employees really just need to feel heard and genuinely seen.
- Keep your people inspired: provide opportunities for professional growth, development, and autonomy. Remind them that they’re not stuck and offer options or solutions that resonate best with the direction they want to go in.
- Make sure they know you care about their personal lives: promote work-life balance and maintain a healthy work environment. Encourage time for hobbies as well as rest and relaxation, but also take it a step further by ensuring that your systems and workflows accommodate to that.
- Create a feedback-first culture: recognize and appreciate employee contributions with meaningful feedback that not only reminds them that their efforts matter, but also motivates them to grow further. Make appreciation language a collective habit.
Employees, here's what to do instead of quiet quitting:
- Get real with yourself about what it is you truly want: and then go after it! Seek opportunities for professional growth and skill development within your company, explore lateral moves, or work on projects that align with your personal interests and aspirations.
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone: if you know it’s time to leave, be proactive about searching for better opportunities, and believe that you’re capable of getting there! Change is uncomfortable but nothing is as uncomfortable as staying in places that you’ve outgrown.
- Don’t suffer in silence: express how you feel and communicate your needs, engage in open and honest conversations with supervisors or managers in order to move forward instead of keeping yourself stuck in a place of stagnancy.
- Remember, you’re not alone: you’re not the first person to slip into quiet quitting and you won’t be the last. Utilize external networking or mentoring for additional support and insights. Lean on others for support, and know that this, too, shall pass.
Quiet quitting poses unique challenges in the modern workplace as employees mentally disengage even while they’re still showing up to work every day. By understanding the causes and consequences of quiet quitting, both employers and employees can work collaboratively to find solutions, so that quiet quitting isn’t even an available resort. By addressing this phenomenon proactively, organizations can maintain productivity, job satisfaction, and long-term success.