a worker with their feet on their work desk and arms raised, meant to signify lounging at work

This time last year the popular workplace buzzword was the Great Resignation.

The term described the trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 47.4 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021.

Today, a new buzzword has entered our lexicon – thanks in part to a viral post on TikTok – and that’s Quiet Quitting.

Below, we’ll define this newly labeled trend (its idea is nothing new), explain why it is happening, show how to be on the lookout for it, and provide advice on how to keep it from happening.

Quiet Quitting Explained

Despite what the name suggests, quiet quitting doesn’t actually involve the act of leaving one’s job. Instead, it’s more of a philosophy where the worker does only what their job requires of them.

The worker performs the duties defined in their job description, within defined working hours, and no more.

While even an employer may not subscribe to a “work is life” mantra, it should be concerning to them because it could be a sign of employee unhappiness or even burnout.

When burnout occurs, productivity suffers.

Why Quiet Quitting Occurs

Quiet quitting can happen for a number of reasons. Among them, poor pay, increased and unmanageable workloads/expectations, lack of growth opportunities, and general feelings of disrespect.

While the term may be new, the practice is anything but.

The pandemic, however, has amplified it.

When employees were forced to work from home, they discovered a work-life balance that they didn’t want to lose.

With pandemic concerns receding, though, many employers are mandating a return to office. For those that must return but wish to continue working from home, they struggle to find their motivation to go above and beyond.

On the other hand, when remote/hybrid work is not managed correctly, the lack of in-person meetings and interactions can cause a disconnect between employees and management. This loss of support can negatively impact an employee’s sense of value, leading to them becoming disengaged.

Signs of Quiet Quitting

The signs of quiet quitting can be tough to detect for an employee who merely wishes for a more positive work-life balance. For those that are truly unhappy, though, they are much more obvious.

Some of the more prominent signs of quiet quitting include:

  • Not attending meetings
  • Late arrivals and early departures
  • Increased use of personal/sick days, both paid and unpaid
  • Reduction in productivity
  • Decreased contributions to team projects and not participating in meetings
  • General lack of enthusiasm

How to Keep Quiet Quitting from Happening

While no employer will ever be able to keep 100% of their workforce 100% engaged, there are ways to reengage a disengaged employee.

It all starts with communication.

Employers should be speaking with their employees to gather their feedback and discuss what can be done to make them feel more appreciated.

They should be properly managing their workloads, setting realistic expectations, and rewarding employees who are forced to take on more work.

They should be managing their stress levels, making mental health a top priority, and striving to create a positive work culture.

They should be discussing career objectives and outlining feasible career growth opportunities.

A positive employee experience starts with the employer. If they can make that a top priority, quiet quitting will not be among an employer’s chief concerns.

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