What is it?

You may have read or come across the term ‘quiet quitting’ over the past couple of months and wondered what it meant and how it is relevant to your business. The phrase “quiet quitting” has blown up as a result of a viral video on social media. There have been many news articles and other viral videos on the topic which has spread the popularity of the concept.

Contrary to what the term suggests, “quiet quitting” isn’t just an employee quitting quietly or resigning without telling anyone. In most cases rather it involves employees setting healthy work boundaries and prioritising their personal life over their professional life. When an employee is engaged in ‘quiet quitting’ behaviours, they can also be seen to only undertake tasks which form part of their job description, no longer going above and beyond or working longer hours which may have become an unspoken expectation over their time with the business.


Why is this topic trending?

The reason why this term has seemed to resonate with viewers and gone viral is due to its relatability after the COVID-19 pandemic. As many of us know, employee burnout was prevalent during lockdown with remote working being a new concept for many. The line between personal life and work could often be blurred with studies showing that employees were working longer hours whilst working from home and adapting to the demands of a rapidly changing world. Burnout is not caused solely by stressful work environments or too many responsibilities, it can be caused by stress or pressure from work and home life, when work and home collided during the pandemic, burnout ensued.

When the lockdowns ended, research has indicated that many employees reflected on their time and reassessed their priorities. This led to employees questioning whether the patterns of work they fell into and the boundaries that were inadvertently set during the pandemic were healthy and worth the symptoms associated with burn out. Some employees have begun to change their way of thinking about work and prioritising a healthier work/life balance.

The topic of the ‘great resignation’ may also come into play here, which has supported the position that it is more important than ever to keep employees engaged and ensure that companies aren’t losing top talent. Employers shouldn’t only try to focus on retaining their top talent but should also keep in mind the employees who are choosing to stay in their organisation but may be showing signs of low engagement.


Quiet Quitting vs Low Engagement

As an overview, the concept doesn’t appear too scary right? Prioritising a healthy work/life balance is something that employers have been advocating for a while -we don’t want our employees to burnout. Only performing duties that they have been hired to do also seems to be reasonable if their job description and KPIs are current and meeting the needs of the business. So why is there so much fuss over this concept?

However, when an employee is quietly quitting, they elect not to put in that extra discretionary effort which can often lead to a competitive advantage for employers. Essentially, these employees will only be doing the bare minimum and not going above and beyond in their role.
Many of the characteristics that align with quiet quitting also predict low engagement levels. It will be important for managers to be able to decipher if the employee’s behaviours are a sign of lowering engagement (which can have its own negative consequences) or if they are just quietly quitting.

Some of the common characteristics for quiet quitting and low engagement include:

  • Becoming less psychologically invested in the role
  • Decrease levels of morale
  • Becoming withdrawn from social activities and optional at work
  • Decrease in motivation
  • Lowering levels of collaboration with others
  • Not working beyond their contracted hours or clocking in late/finishing early.

You may also see the productivity levels of these employees decline, where they are just performing the bare minimum required of their role and opting out of activities which fall out of scope.


What can employers do?

There are certain measures that organisations can implement to track for lower levels of engagement and prevent any negative consequences from quiet quitting behaviours.

Learning and development
Having an investment in your employees’ learning and development has long been regarded as a top retention strategy. Providing development and learning opportunities to your employees can demonstrate to your staff that you have a genuine interest in their career. This can lead to an increase in engagement and the employee’s commitment to the organisation. Rolling out Personal Development Plans (PDP) for your employees can be a keyway to achieve this.

PDPs are a document which is used to formalise the development of an employee. The manager and the employee will work together to identify activities that will enable the employee to acquire new or develop existing skills and behavioural attributes. The aim of the PDP is to enhance their current performance whilst also addressing the employee’s career aspirations (working towards filling any gaps).

Conducting effective 1:1s
Probably one of the most important and overlooked component of a performance management system is 1:1s with an employee and their manager. Some managers can find this task tedious and time consuming. However, having effective 1:1s can be a really useful exercise to give feedback, keep each other in the loop, resolve issues, and help the participants grow in their roles. Regular check ins have proven to be an effective tool in engagement and overall high performance.

The employee’s manager will have the best insight in being able to identify changes in the employee’s behaviour. As a result, they will be able to pick up on any warning signs for low engagement or quiet quitting behaviours. This can enable the business to implement interventions early on before the issue snowballs.

Measuring employee metrics
Businesses can also start tracking metrics to gauge an understanding on the engagement levels of their employees and provide them with a pulse read on how everyone is going. This can be facilitated through an engagement survey or an employee happiness survey. The company can then use the feedback provided to identify potential issues and introduce targeted strategies where required.

Exit interviews are another way for businesses to obtain useful employee data. During this process, businesses will be able to assess the reasons why employees are leaving and review any pressing issues that employees raise. By recording this data, businesses are able look for any trends and diagnose problem areas in the organisation which could be causes for low engagement and/or quiet quitting behaviours.

Express Gratitude
Simple as it sounds studies have indicated that expressing gratitude for a job well done has a huge impact on workplace culture and the bottom line. Higher levels of productivity and engagement, stronger relationships and a happier workforce can result from not only saying thank you, but genuinely expressing the impact that the employee’s contribution has had to the overall outcome. Further proof that a simple thanks can go a long way!


About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.



The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.