Do you see these behaviors in your team? If so, you may have a quiet quitter.
Declining extra tasks that aren’t outlined in their job description
Bowing out of after-hours meetings and activities
Coming to meetings, but not being engaged
Making little effort to interact with other team members
Quiet Quitting Isn’t the End of the World…or the Employee
As you can see from above, an employee who has quietly quit is still performing their job. They just aren’t giving “extra” effort to their roles. This doesn’t mean the employee is bad or should be fired.
Quiet quitters may:
Be burned out and overworked
Feel that their compensation doesn’t cover the extra effort
Be experiencing personal life issues that demand their primary attention
There are several reasons a team member may quietly quit. Whatever the reason, organizations with a quiet quitting problem should recognize it for the wake-up call that it is and take steps to address the issue.
How Should You Handle Quiet Quitters?
HR Pros must be closely involved in these situations and work together with managers and team members.
Proactively watch for quiet quitting. The sooner it’s identified, the more effectively it can be addressed. Once an employee has established a set pattern it’s more difficult to alter their path. Managers and HR should know what quiet quitting looks like and keep an eye out for it.
Get to the source. It’s important to understand what caused the employee to step back from their position. Is it something in their personal life? Or does it have to do with company leadership or compensation? Understanding the cause is necessary to figure out how to move forward with the person.
Examine the company’s culture. A quiet quitter here and there doesn’t signal problems, but if it’s rampant across the organization, it could be a symptom of a much larger issue.
Recent research from SHRM found that, of the HR professionals who report their organization is experiencing quiet quitting, 60%say their company’s culture enables this behavior. Qualitative data revealed management issues (like lack of engagement, communication issues, or poor people management)and remote and hybrid work (like poor supervisor support, or lack of accountability) as common themes affecting workplace culture and encouraging quiet quitting.
If this is happening in your organization, take an in-depth look at your company’s culture through interviews and anonymous surveys. There could be underlying problems causing employees to disconnect. Left unaddressed, these can cause loud quitting, which puts your company in the difficult position of replacing employees.
HR can proactively manage quiet quitters by:
Implementing boundaries. If the company culture has been one of “work until you drop” it may be time for HR to set some reasonable boundaries pertaining to employees. Overworked employees crushed under too many assignments and responsibilities are bound to disengage at some point.
Encouraging well-being. The company should encourage employees to recharge by taking their full vacation time, not working on weekends, and turning off their email in the evenings. Employees should also be privy to ways of relaxing during the workday, such as having access to comfortable break areas. The healthier an employee, the more steam they have for their jobs.
Addressing compensation issues. Yes, the pay is fair for the job description, but what about all the extra work the team member does? Employees are less inclined to quietly quit if their paycheck shows the employer appreciates their contributions.
Listening to the team members. Are they telling you, or their manager, they can’t handle their workloads? They’re overwhelmed? Are they pulled in too many directions? These complaints may be precursors of quiet quitting and deserve serious attention.
Once HR identifies quiet quitters, they should handle it by:
Working with the manager. Is this behavior a temporary issue? Does the employee simply need extra support or some time off? The manager shouldn’t be left to deal with quiet quitting on their own. HR plays a pivotal role in handling these situations gracefully and productively.
Measuring the impact of the “quit”. There are different levels of quiet quitting. Is the employee still doing decent work, just nothing extra? Or are they completely disengaged and checked out? The former may still be valuable to their team, while the latter may need to move on to another organization.
Being honest and authentic. The employee who has quietly quit needs to be involved in the conversations. HR and the manager can reach out and have a non-judgmental conversation about the person’s performance. These insights are key in establishing trust and turning things around.
Quiet quitting is prevalent and can cause risk to the company, but so can a toxic company culture and management issues. Sometimes quiet quitting is a symptom of deeper obstacles blocking engagement and productivity. It’s HR’s job to uncover the source and rectify it as quickly as possible to head off disengagement and turnover.