Quiet Quitting: The Latest Red Flag in Employee Engagement

“Quiet quitting” is a growing workplace trend that encourages employees to disengage from their work, costing employers money, decreasing workplace creativity and resiliency, and ultimately decreasing a business's likelihood to withstand recession and economic downturn.



What is “quiet quitting”?

  • Quiet quitting is a trending topic on social media that advocates employees should do only the bare minimum to avoid being fired in their careers (CNN).

  • “At the end of the day, the purpose of quiet quitting is to separate yourself from the stress of your job so that you’re able to focus your energy on other things” (Paige West).

  • Quiet quitting holds a range of meanings. Some quiet-quitters are “still fulfilling their job duties” but not going the extra mile (working overtime, additional training, volunteering for extra tasks) (Huffington Post).

  • Others state that quiet quitting is about employees looking to “untether their careers from their identities” (Wall Street Journal (Ellis & Yang, 2022)).

  • In other cases, quiet quitting represents unfulfilled work, off-task behaviors, and a refusal to contribute outside “their wage.” For example, in a post by @Saraisthreads on TikTok, the following is stated, “Respectfully Susan, it’s 2022. We are acting our wage, so don’t give me extra work, okay? Thank you, thank you!”

Why are people quiet quitting?

  • Quiet quitting isn’t new. According to Gallup’s 2022 State of the Workplace Report, only 21% of employees globally are engaged in their work. For America and Canada, only 33% of employees are actively engaged in their work.

  • “Globally, employee engagement and wellbeing remain very low, and it’s holding back enormous growth potential” (Gallup, 2022).

  • 78% of younger, Gen Z, employees request recognition for their efforts multiple times a month according to a Gallup WorkHuman Survey; compared to only 45% of Baby Boomer employees request the same level of recognition (Lorenz, 2022).

  • “Gen Z and younger workers are reporting that they feel less like their work has purpose” (Lindsay Ellis WallStreet Journal).

How does it impact your business?

  • Quiet quitting crushes workplace creativity and innovation decreases (Kevin O’Leary, CNBC).

  • Quiet quitting continues the trend of low engagement in the workplace (Wall Street Journal August 15th, 2022).

  • Quiet quitting decreases engagement, which decreases resiliency. This leads to poorer outcomes in times of recession. “Business units… are at an increased disadvantage and less resilient if employee engagement is weak during a recession” (Gallup; Harter, 2020).

  • Quiet quitting costs employers money in new hire costs and productivity costs. “The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary” (Gallup, McFeely & Wigert, 2019).

How to discourage quiet quitting

  • Increase recognition for excellent work and extra efforts between employees and managers. “Employees are four times as likely to be engaged at work if they strongly agree that they get the right amount of recognition for the work that they do” (Gallup WorkHuman Survey; Lorenz, 2022).

  • Have clear workplace expectations. Let employees know the level of effort you expect and why.

  • Hire engaged employees that value hard work and “have an appetite for professional growth” (Inc; Cohan, 2022).

  • Help your employees find purpose within your organization. Share the “why” behind your organization's existence.

  • “Executives are nearly eight times more likely than other employees to say that their purpose is fulfilled by work. Similarly, executives are nearly three times more likely than others to say that they rely on work for purpose.” (McKinsey & Co; Dhingra et al., 2021).

  • “Gen Z and younger workers report feeling less like their work has purpose” (Lindsay Ellis Wall Street Journal).

Questions to consider

  • Are your managers aware of “quiet quitting”? Do they know what signs to look for (decreased effort, off-task behaviors, etc.)?

  • How, when, and how often are your employees recognized for their efforts?

  • If you were to ask your employees what their “why” for their job was, what would their response be?

  • How do you communicate your organization’s “why” with your employees?

  • What expectations do you have for your employees? Do they know these expectations?

The main takeaway

Quiet quitting, while trending on major social media platforms, is not new to the already disengaged workplace. Quiet quitting has encouraged Gen-Z and younger generation employees to put forth minimal effort in their careers. This is a result of global workplace disengagement and a failure to find purpose or meaning within careers. A workplace with quiet-quitters can reduce creativity, engagement, productivity, and the resilience of a company.


Key strategies that employers can use to discourage quiet quitting are reinforcing and recognizing when employees go above and beyond for their team, setting clear expectations, communicating the purpose and meaning of the organization to their employees, and hiring engaged employees.


For more insight on how to build an engaged workforce, consider the following Arete Coach insights:


We would also like to thank Vistage Master Chair, Allen Hauge, for his insight on “quiet quitting.” We encourage readers to tune into Episode #1038 of the Arete Coach Podcast for more sage insights from Allen Hauge.


Resources

CNBC. (2022, August 19). Quiet quitting: Why Kevin O’Leary says it’s a bad idea for your career. https://www.cnbc.com/video/2022/08/19/quiet-quitting-why-kevin-oleary-says-its-a-bad-idea-for-your-career.html.


CNN. (2022, August 20). Engineer says she quiet quit her job. Hear what that means. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/business/2022/08/20/smr-quiet-quitting--anti-work.cnn/video/playlists/business-economy/.


Cohan, P. (2022, August 21). 4 Ways to Keep Your Gen-Z Workers From “Quiet Quitting.” Inc. https://www.inc.com/peter-cohan/4-ways-to-keep-your-gen-z-workers-from-quiet-quitting.html

Dhingra, N., Samo, A., Schaninger, B., & Schrimper, M. (2022, February 27). Help your employees find purpose—or watch them leave. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/help-your-employees-find-purpose-or-watch-them-leave.


Ellis, L., & Yang, A. (2022, August 12). If Your Co-Workers Are ‘Quiet Quitting,’ Here’s What That Means. WSJ. https://www.wsj.com/articles/if-your-gen-z-co-workers-are-quiet-quitting-heres-what-that-means-11660260608.


Gallup, Inc. (2022, August 5). State of the Global Workplace Report - Gallup. Gallup.Com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx?thank-you-report-form=1#ite-393218.


Harter, B. J. (2021, September 20). Is Your Culture Resilient Enough to Survive Coronavirus? Gallup.Com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/311270/culture-resilient-enough-survive-coronavirus.aspx.


Lorenz, B. E. (2022, August 29). How to Bridge the Generational Gap in Recognition. Gallup. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/396470/bridge-generational-gap-recognition.aspx.


McFeely, S., & Wigert, B. (2022, June 10). This Fixable Problem Costs U.S. Businesses $1 Trillion. Gallup. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/247391/fixable-problem-costs-businesses-trillion.aspx.


@saraisthreads. (2022). Veronica Displays “Quiet Quitting.” TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/@saraisthreads/video/7134755184529394986?is_from_webapp=v1&item_id=7134755184529394986.


Torres, M. (2022, August 2). You Could Be “Quiet Quitting” Your Job And Not Even Know It. HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/quiet-quitting-job-coasting-at-work_l_62e42dc2e4b00fd8d83f26c4.


Wall Street Journal. (2022, August 15). How ‘Quiet Quitting’ Is Changing the Workplace - The Wall Street Journal Google Your News Update - WSJ Podcasts. WSJ. https://www.wsj.com/podcasts/google-news-update/how-quiet-quitting-is-changing-the-workplace/add4081e-286e-40fb-ae2a-6fb5a427c583?mod=Searchresults_pos2&page=1.


West, P. [Paige West]. (2022, August 12). How to QUIET QUIT your job with INTENTION [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c7cUAKWjmo.


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