4 Strategies to Combat Quiet Quitting

Posted by Des Sinkevich on October 11, 2022

The term “quiet quitting” is the latest trendy phrase being used to attempt to describe the significant impact the pandemic has had on the world of work. Catching fire on social media, quiet quitting has become a rallying cry for both employers and workers, to opposite ends. It’s the subject of dozens upon dozens of articles, most of which focus on defining the trend as good or bad, depending on perspective. It’s something that workforce experts, the media, hiring managers, and businesses are trying to solve for. Disengaged employees who aren’t willing to put maximum effort into their work are bad for business, after all. But quiet quitting may not be the pressing issue; instead, the problem could come down to burnout.

Rather than letting employees go in a labor market that isn’t currently beneficial for employers, finding a solution to ease burnout and emphasize a culture that allows for healthy work/life balance could be the best strategy to retain employees and increase their engagement with work.

stressed man with head on desk at work.

What is quiet quitting?

The term quiet quitting gained traction online sometime mid-summer 2022, spawning articles and concern from media and big business alike. Initially positioned as a negative workplace trend, quiet quitting referred to employees who decided to give the bare minimum of effort to their employer. They still showed up to work, logged on, and completed their tasks but without the need to go the extra mile for their job. No longer propelled by ambition, workers clocked in on time, left when their shift was over, and wouldn’t take their work home with them. They were, essentially, quitting – at least, quitting attempts to be more productive, take on more projects, and do more work than they were necessarily paid to do.

On the other hand, rather than a lack of ambition, quiet quitting has also been defined as someone either “acting their wage” - doing the work they’re paid to do well, but not taking on additional responsibilities without the pay raise that comes with them – or putting more focus on their life and relationships instead of extra hours at work.

Why employees are quiet quitting

While it’s easy to pin quiet quitting down to “no one wants to work anymore” or blame a younger generation for lack of ambition, the reasons behind the trend are more varied and complicated. Several motivators behind quiet quitting include

  • A lack of strong leadership. Without someone to lead and offer support and guidance to workers, many may feel like the company doesn’t care about them – they're just a body to complete tasks and fill quotas. In fact, ineffective managers have about 3 to 4 times as many direct reports who could be considered “quiet quitters” compared to stronger leaders. On the other hand, managers who are able to balance relationships, effective leadership, and results saw 62% of their workers more willing to give extra effort on the job.
  • An unclear understanding of what is expected on the job. If someone doesn’t know how best to reach their goals or even what their work goals are, there’s no point in spending extra time trying to achieve something unknown.
  • Burnout. Burnout is a problem facing many overwhelmed industries, including healthcare and veterinary medicine. When workers are inundated with seemingly endless tasks, work longer hours, and deal with stressful situations regularly, burnout is almost guaranteed. A once dedicated, passionate employee who was willing to do whatever they could to help the business could be derailed by burnout and, eventually, end up quitting entirely.
  • Rebalancing priorities. The pandemic has dramatically changed how we work and live. It’s also been a catalyst for reflection, with more people reconsidering what is most important to them. That means a bigger focus on work/life balance. Employees who may have worked late in the past are now clocking out when their shift ends to make more time for family, friends, and life.

Gaining a better understanding behind the reasons your workers may be quiet quitting can help you implement strategies to engage and motivate your workers, and even help them build a better work/life balance.

4 strategies to combat quiet quitting in your company

Whether your employees are engaging in quiet quitting because they aren’t sure what’s expected of them or they’re just burnt out, there are a few strategies your company can use to increase engagement, employee satisfaction, and productivity.

1. Create an effective training/onboarding program

When employees know what’s expected of them – what goals they should reach, how to best reach them, and what work they should be focusing on during their shifts – they can more confidently finish their tasks and do so well. A lack of understanding about their roles, success metrics, and how to achieve results can leave otherwise talented employees feeling stuck, unsure, and frustrated.

By creating an effective onboarding program that ensures all new hires are aware of expectations, strategies for on-the-job success, and how to do their jobs effectively, you’ll increase productivity and your workers will have the tools they need to be better at their jobs.

Further, regular training doesn’t have to be limited to new hires; tenured workers, employees moving into leadership roles, and even those switching departments can all benefit from refresher courses.

2. Build a strong company culture

Today, amid the Great Resignation – or Great Reshuffling, depending on which term you prefer – it's more important than ever to focus on building your culture. In fact, 60% of job seekers consider a healthy company culture essential when they’re searching for a new job. Culture also plays a large role in retention – a negative or toxic culture can be 10 times more influential than pay or benefits when an employee is considering leaving for new opportunities. Having a sense of belonging and a mission that aligns with their personal values are some of the most important things employees look for in a new employer these days. If an employee believes in the work the company is doing, they’re more likely to be engaged in their specific role.

3. Offer opportunities for professional development

Offering professional development opportunities for your employees is vital for success, even when quiet quitting isn’t the issue. With 68% of workers saying that they’d stay with their current employer for significantly longer if they had upskilling opportunities, it’s obviously important to retention. A lack of these opportunities, on the other hand, can lead to employees lacking confidence in their work and their employer. By providing your workers with pathways to professional development and career advancement, you can support both their growth and the growth of your company all while keeping these dedicated employees engaged and happy.

4. Support work/life balance for employees

Today, work/life balance is one of the biggest considerations for those looking for new jobs or planning to leave their current role, with 63% of respondents to a LinkedIn survey considering it a top priority over compensation and benefits. This plays a huge role in what’s motivating many to “quietly quit.”

Many quiet quitters are perfectly happy with their jobs and their managers. They’re confident in their skills and the work they do. Rather than quiet quitting, these are the employees who are “rebalancing” their lives and priorities. One of the easiest ways to make sure these workers remain engaged and at the top of their game during work hours is to ensure the company as a whole supports the idea of a healthy work/life balance. That means making sure employees are encouraged to clock out on time if their work is complete, spend time away from work, and feel supported in doing so.

Engage employees with online training

Online training programs can give your company an opportunity to reengage employees while providing them with a pathway to career success that doesn’t involve sacrificing work/life balance. Through Penn Foster’s online portfolio of courses, your workers can gain new skills, build confidence, and feel supported – all at their own pace. To learn more about offering upskilling and reskilling options in your company, reach out to our training experts today.