Understanding 'Quiet Quitting' and How to Prevent it

While we’ve all expelled a lot of energy discussing the Great Resignation, another trend is emerging among the world's workforce that is just as concerning.

Through the great resignation, an average of 3.98 million workers left their jobs every month in 2021. In other words, almost 40 million people quit their jobs in 2021.

But what about the millions of workers who didn’t quit their jobs? Is it business as usual?

The firm truth is “no.” This new trend emerging among the workforce, called “quiet quitting” describes the portion of the workforce that didn’t quit their job but now expels the minimum effort required to remain employed. 

That’s what we’re going to discuss in this blog. What is quiet quitting, why does it happen, and how can you prevent/rectify it?

What Is Quiet Quitting?

 Quiet quitters continue to fulfill their job duties but are less likely to engage in activities that ask them to do a bit more for their employer and coworkers. Leadership experts coined this as “Citizenship behavior.”

Droves of workers refuse to engage in citizenship behavior, including showing up early, staying late, attending optional meetings, participating in social events, and voluntarily mentoring junior coworkers.

CEO and management expert Dennis Organ identified five types of organizational citizenship behavior: altruism, courtesy, sportsmanship, conscientiousness, and civic virtue. 

More on these later.

Let’s keep chugging ahead.

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Hustle Culture & Citizenship Behavior: Let’s Talk About It

Before the term “Quiet quitting” came to the forefront, another paradigm, called hustle culture, was called out by the primarily millennial workforce.

I think we’re all familiar with hustle culture, which is the opposite of quiet quitting. Working long hours and often sacrificing your physical and mental health to achieve more success in your career.

Organizations always welcome workers who go the extra mile, but with shifting trends in the workplace, organizations are reevaluating who their ideal employee is.

Why wouldn’t you still look for “A-players” who give 110% daily?

We’ve already explained the aftermath of decades of a toxic grind culture in the western workforce. Millennials are taking a stand against hustle culture and often predatory citizenship behavior standards set by employers.

Now, if you want to attract the best talent, you need to be aware of the signs of quiet quitting, how to engage employees, and what perks potential employees want in jobs.

Let’s talk about it.

What Are the Signs of Quiet Quitting

More and more millennials are rejecting hustle culture. Instead, they’re more likely to leave jobs, looking for higher compensation positions with better benefits before giving what they deem “above and beyond.” You can really call the phenomenon of quiet quitting a recalibration of the job market as workers establish boundaries. 

Quiet quitting isn’t an unexplainable enigma, so we can discuss some of the reasons employees may disengage and do the bare minimum (aka. quiet quit).

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Let’s start with the two elephants in the room responsible for quiet quitting:

  • Feeling Overworked (Burnout): This will take some painful self-awareness, but ask yourself this question: “Are you overworking your employees and feeling a backlash from it?”
  • Feeling Underpaid: If you want to recruit the best employees, you need to keep an eye on the wage market, regardless of “how you’ve always done things.”

Great, now what are the signs you may outwardly see?

  • Poor Teamwork: Quiet quitters may show poor teamwork when collaborating on projects, helping co-workers in need, or mentoring junior coworkers.

  • Disengagement: Quiet quitters will likely act distant in meetings and workplace conversations, attempting not to insert themselves too deep into workplace matters that may not be a part of their job description.

  • Poor Performance: This is the big one, and likely why you’re reading this article. You should know what metrics create a perfect harmony between the wages you offer and your expected performance.

How To Engage Employees

Many managers will react poorly to the idea of an employee being a quiet quitter. Frequently, they need the exact opposite response and are NOT a lost cause.

You cannot be afraid to have hard conversations with employees to coax out what’s happening with them.

  • Are they underpaid? 

  • Do they feel underappreciated?

  • Are you asking for more than what was initially agreed and expecting more than their job description outlines?

  • Are they with the right company, but in the wrong role?

  • Is there something you can provide to get them back on track?

  • Is there a lack of clarity in their duty?

Asking questions like these and approaching conversations from a place of learning can get your workplace culture on track.