Quiet Quitting

By Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance | | 11.15.22

A recently occurring trend in many workplaces across the country is the practice known as “quiet quitting.” No, it is not workers going on strike without notice. It is the practice of intentionally doing the bare minimum for one’s job and choosing to be less productive.

The idea is for an employee to passively set boundaries at work between themselves, their coworkers, clients, and employers to avoid extra work-related obligations. Quiet quitting is an attempt to improve work-life balance.

This trend is concerning to employers, however, as quiet quitting is evident of communication breakdown between labor and management. Unresolved and unaddressed tensions between employers and employees can be extremely unhealthy for organizations of any size and industry.

The financial costs of this phenomenon are difficult to quantify and vary from company to company. However, quiet quitting can have a significant impact on the bottom lines of businesses. Lower productivity from absenteeism, missed deadlines, untimely results and generally less effort in working the same hours are all possible issues when workers are deliberately and quietly distancing themselves from their responsibilities.

Workers who quiet quit can also end up straining their relationships with fellow workers by not carrying their weight and causing others to pick up the slack. This can trigger more employees to contribute less and increase unaddressed animosity in the workplace. Employers should also consider the costs of recruitment and training to replace staff who are drifting away from their work without notice.

The overall effect quiet quitting can have on the economy includes lower rates of output and productivity, as well as a decline in the quality of goods and services businesses sell. In worst case scenarios, this can reduce consumer spending, increase unemployment, and cause a local economy to shrink.

Member businesses and organizations at Aspire as well as the community at large are witnessing quiet quitting situations at an alarming rate. Andrea Munn, HR Department Manager at Tilson HR, has worked with organizations of all sizes on human resource matters and has noticed the quiet quitting trend happening in Johnson County.

“Employers are seeing the impact of quiet quitting in less productivity, more time off, especially unplanned time off and less engagement from their employees,” said Munn.

“You can walk into any business in the county and talk to the management and ask if they see an increase in absenteeism and they will say ‘yes’. People feel overworked, underpaid, and stressed due to the economy and employers are seeing this impact daily.”

Deliberate reductions in efficiency by employees will only hurt a workforce rather than improve working conditions. Organizations will need to respond to quiet quitting effectively, but with consideration for the needs of employees who may be feeling overworked and undervalued.

“Leaders of organizations who encounter quiet quitting should start by reflecting on the situation, identifying if this is a problem with the employee not being a great fit for the role, not finding value in their job, or is this because of the quality of leadership. If it is because of the leadership, then the manager will need to change or enhance the way they lead their organization as a whole,” said Munn.

“The leader needs to ask themselves hard questions and be willing to listen to staff and understand what they need or want to be active and productive employees. When a leader is engaging with their employees it is important to build or re-build your relationship with them, understand what the employee needs to feel valued, and understand what you can do to provide an environment they want to work in. Have open dialogue with employees, build trust, ask for their feedback, and then listen to that feedback.”

Workers in today’s economy are more empowered and mobilized than before, and quiet quitting is often a symptom of workplace cultures that have not caught on to this.

“One thing that has come out of the Pandemic is that people want more flexibility. They want to be shown their value and they want to have a voice. If an employer does not adapt to this, they will lose good employees who can find that environment elsewhere.”

Although quiet quitting is a newer trend, problems with communication and rule-setting between employers and employees are an age-old issue. However, if both parties want what is best for the other as well as themselves, then there is no issue that cannot be resolved through patient and open dialogue between them.

“Employers have to determine what type of employees they want, what environment do they want to provide for the company, and then build and engage with the good employees they have who are willing and able to grow and support that vision,” said Munn.

“Employers can’t prevent someone from leaving, but they can build an environment where people want to stay, where people want to thrive and where people are valued. If an organization has too many people on staff who are quietly quitting, then the leadership needs to assess their management team and identify what their weaknesses are. Can they be changed, developed, coached? What does the leadership need to do to maintain good employees?”