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Quietly Quitting Employees – How To Engage Before It’s Too Late


Author: Stephanie L. Leffler, SPHR

Read time: 6 minutes

Have you ever been surprised when an employee calls or worse yet, texts you they are quitting? This article is not about quitting their job for another employer. It is about Quiet Quitting. Did you know 21% of US employees are doing their jobs at the bare minimum level? Why? People are burned out, according to a 2022 survey. This article addresses what is termed, “quiet quitting” which is akin to “ghosting”. The great resignation of 2021 happened when employees left employers to pursue opportunities that better suited them financially, to focus on priorities (family over work) and their personal health. This article will explain how quiet quitting happens and what you can do to engage workers before it is too late and you have to hire another employee only to be ghosted in the interview process.

Definition: Quiet Quitting (QQ) [kwahy-it kwit-ing]

“It is an informal term for the practice of reducing the amount of effort one devotes to one’s job, such as by stopping the completion of any tasks not explicitly stated in the job description. The term implies that this is done secretly or without notifying one’s boss or manager”(2022).

Why It Matters: QQ happens when an employee rejects the pressure or expectation to go above and beyond their rol. This means 1 out of 5 of your employees feel among many things such as they are not being adequately compensated or listened to. They deprioritize the job for other life aspects. This is serious because when QQ happens you have lost the person whom you may have in mind for an advancement or other lateral role more suited to their strengths.

What You Can Do: Engage your employees!

  • Don’t overwork your superstars and burn them out. Provide opportunities for them to mentor or coach and pay them extra while doing that role.

  • Be aware that people of color, who are disabled and women often times feel they have to go above and beyond to even measure up to their colleagues.

  • Provide stretch goals for those who are shy and come to work daily and do their job.

  • Keep a pulse on your workplace by asking HR to design an employee survey. Before committing to a survey process, get clear about what you are willing to do and spend when you receive the results.

  • Ask your employees to write down their actual duties and compare it with the job description. This can lead to “job creep” which means extra tasks are put upon the employee during times of crisis or through the employee choosing to take it over with or without management involvement.

  • Do more than touch base with employees. Design a company strategy to personalize motivation with examples like personal goals, education, ideal job, etc.

  • It is good business to schedule one on one conversations with the goal of better understanding employees’ day-to-day tasks and learn about what is going on with them on a human level. Yes, I said ask how they are doing personally.

  • Many folks do not speak up and information must be teased out with a fine tooth set of questions. Ask if there is anything the company can do to make their work experience more rewarding or better.

  • Figure out a way to be flexible. Involve the employee in the process. Redefine what work or a work schedule is. Embrace technology.

  • This list above equals employee engagement.

What Happens When You Engage?

  • Acknowledge the process is uncomfortable but will yield a healthier workforce if done well. This takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.

  • Get ready for pushback. Any kind of change expect pushback. Explore the resistance. It is amazing what you find out when you ask! We don’t know what we don’t know and we don’t really know what we think we know until it is verified.

  • Get ready to listen to things you don’t want to hear.

  • Your workers will become more loyal, diverse, smarter (education), do the tasks that contribute to the bottom line instead of busy work. Oh yes, they will be engaged!

Get Started:

  • Pick an unproductive meeting and spend the time engaging your team.

  • Don’t get stuck in a rut. Set an expectation for new ideas. There is no silly idea. Encourage folks through brainstorming exercises.

  • Follow through. Have side conversations when you see cues of resistance or unhappiness.

  • Always end on a positive note. Share what you are thankful for and acknowledge employees in public.

  • Avoid shaming and demeaning employees. Always correct in private (including emails). You can always forward an email later.

  • Involve HR. We are here to help.


(2022). Bannan, K. Retrieved from: SHRM

(2022). Employee Relations Management Today

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