Quiet Quitting

What is quiet quitting?


For the past few months, the hashtag #QuietQuitting has dominated social media channels. It all started with a social media video of a user describing the idea behind “quiet quitting”.

“You’re not abandoning your job overtly, but you’re losing the concept of going above and beyond at work. You’re still doing your job, but you’re not buying into the hustle culture attitude that says work needs to be your life,” the person on the video argues.

Quiet quitting is different from quitting because the employee doesn’t leave your company. However, it does mean that they’ve started only doing the tasks in their job description. They won’t work overtime or put in any effort for tasks that wasn’t in their job description. Frequently, they’ll do the bare minimum instead of going above and beyond to have a better work-life balance. When they leave work at the end of the day, they don’t take it home without them or focus on work outside of non-work hours.

During the pandemic, many employees were rethinking their salaries, careers, how they spent their day and how they wanted to be treated at work.

Quiet quitting comes against the backdrop of employees feeling that going the extra mile is overlooked, completely ignored, not appreciated, or costing them too much in terms of their time or mental health, without any kind of reward or recognition from their employers.

Mixed opinions

Since the concept of quiet quitting began ricocheting around the internet, there have been countless takes on it. Supporters argue that quiet quitting is a way to safeguard your mental health, prioritise your family, friends, and passions, and avoid burnout. But many movers and shakers are against it.

“Quiet quitting isn’t just about quitting on a job, it’s a step toward quitting on life,” complains Arianna Huffington, arguing quiet quitters would be better served to find jobs they are passionate about.

Josh Bersin, who agrees with Arianne Huffington, points out that there were many times in his 45+ year career when he felt burnt out, under-appreciated, felt the boss or manager was plain crummy or the organisation did a terrible job managing employees. However, it was the act of “leaning in” during these times that brought him over the line to a place of fulfilment and value in his career. He believes quiet quitting is the road to failure. Instead, he suggests that the employee does something about their dissatisfaction. The easiest place to start would be a conversation with your manager, the most drastic of options being to make a job or career change.

Bad for business?

Employees caring for their mental health and work-life balance is not bad for business. However, employees who feel that their employer is so disconnected from them that their approach must be quiet quitting are a sign of disengaged workers.

As a result of quiet quitting, organisations will see disengaged and dissatisfied workers, stunted career growth for workers, inter-team conflict, low workplace morale and decreased output.

How to handle quiet quitting


1. An honest conversation

You can take the “quiet” out of “quiet quitting,” by airing the issues out in the open.

The most effective way to address quiet quitting is to have an open and honest conversation with employees.

Frame the conversation something like this: “I noticed a shift in your performance recently. While I understand that everyone needs an occasional break, I’m concerned that perhaps you’re dissatisfied with some parts of your job and want to ensure that there are no issues that I’m overlooking. I wanted to give you a chance to tell your side of the story because I’d love to find a solution together.”

2. Make a grand gesture

Quiet quitting often happens after an extended period of inaction. Employees get the impression that the organisation does not care about them and in response, they quiet quit. To counteract this, an organisation could make a grand gesture. Perhaps your employees have been working long hours due to a looming deadline? Close the company for a day to show that you value their time and effort and care about their mental health and work-life balance.

3. Fulfil your promises

Lip service isn’t going to cut it here. It is easy to plan for change but implementing change is a different story. However, planning for change won’t restore your employee’s work ethic and faith in the company. Listen to the employees’ concerns, plan for change, communicate the plan, and ultimately, make good on your promise for change. No follow-through will be far more damaging than never promising change in the first place.

4. Watch and wait

Your action will have to be immediate, but your reward will not be. Be patient. Trying to push employees back to their previous productivity before they have had the chance to regain trust in the organisation will cause the employee to tune out even more. Be encouraged by the small victories and focus on your performance.

5. Perform an exit interview

Sometimes, it is too late to fix quiet quitting, and the employee not-so-silently quits. Even if an employee decides to part ways, it is worth trying to improve the work environment so that you can retain current and future employees and protect their passion for work. You can sit down for an exit interview with the departing employee to pinpoint the specific causes of the motivation breakdown and gain insight for improvement.

Get in touch

SelectONE specialises in high-tech, high-touch recruitment solutions that is focused on achieving the organisation’s strategic goals and the employee’s career aspirations. We have in-depth knowledge of exit interviews and can assist you in managing your talent to ensure high retention.

Contact us today.