Quietly Quitting: How to End the Trend

Quietly quitting — it’s the latest buzzword that puts a trendy label on employees who are disengaged from their jobs. Boiled down, these employees feel overworked, underappreciated, and are no longer willing to work long hours to go above and beyond their job responsibilities.

While this isn’t a new concept, the trend could amplify problems employers are already experiencing from the Great Resignation. After all, staffing shortages require managers to do more with less, and that typically leads to employees working longer hours and taking on more responsibilities to meet company goals.

quietly quitting

To counteract, how can employers prevent employees from feeling burned out and, instead, reengage them in their work?

1. Assess employee engagement

It’s hard to genuinely know how employees feel about work without first asking them. The most personable approach is to ask these open-ended questions in a 1-on-1 stay interview.

Keep in mind that stay interviews take a lot of time. If you’re pressed for time, consider launching an employee survey for quicker feedback. Once you have insight, prepare an action plan that includes employee buy-in for making changes.

2. Make employees feel appreciated

When is the last time you made your employees feel valued? As a manager, set a goal to seek out one employee each day, shake their hand, and thank them for a specific thing they did. You could also send a personal note or perhaps a department- or company-wide email that praises an employee’s efforts.

Giving employees recognition helps them feel important and improves their overall engagement. Don’t ever write off simple efforts to make someone feel appreciated!

3. Ensure workloads are realistic

It’s possible your employees are working longer and later than you realize, especially if they’re exempt and don’t punch the timeclock. Encourage employees to prioritize their tasks and communicate if they need help with their workload. Keep an open-door policy where employees are welcome to talk to you whenever needed. And don’t forget to talk about their workload in your stay interview!

4. Help employees manage stress

From fatigue and low energy to poor morale and decreased productivity, employees’ psychological health is a big deal. Consider your company’s mental health culture and find strategies or programs that help employees mitigate stress. These might include flexible work schedules and/or remote work options, counseling services, or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

5. Encourage employees to take time off work

While there’s no federal law that requires employers to offer paid vacation, it’s a highly valued benefit that boosts your company’s bottom line. According to Michael W. Smith, MD, “People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals.” Vacations also encourage coworkers to be more well-rounded and boost productivity.

6. Explain how their role fits into the company’s mission

It’s difficult to be engaged in a job when you aren’t clear about your company’s mission or how your role helps to accomplish it. Communicating your mission and identifying how employees help achieve that purpose provide an overarching goal that can be used as motivation.

7. Make sure there isn’t a manager problem

It’s estimated that 50-60% of employees quit because of a bad boss. While quietly quitting doesn’t mean employees are leaving their jobs altogether, they’re much less likely to be engaged if they have a manager problem. Gather data from stay interviews, anonymous surveys, and/or turnover metrics to determine whether you have an issue and be prepared to remedy the problem.

If you’re sensing you have quiet quitters at work, it’s time to enact efforts to reengage them. Whether they feel burned out or simply need more balance in their life, your proactive efforts may make all the difference in productivity and retention.

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