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Quiet Quitting: Signs and Solutions

by Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D.

October 05, 2022EngagementDevelopment

“Quiet Quitting” has become a hashtag event and has gone viral as a real problem in the current job market. So, what is it? According to coach Marty Nimko (2022), “Quiet quitting is, simply, working fewer than the hours you’re paid for. A recent survey of 1,989 UK workers who claim to be working full-time actually do productive work for just two hours and 23 minutes a day.” As the job market continues to remain hot, individuals know that plenty of alternative jobs exist. Along with the fact that the last recession was 13 years ago, people are used to finding jobs quickly and easily. No longer does the fear of remaining unemployed for an extended period of time exist for employees. Therefore, they are less likely to accommodate poor leadership or an unrewarding job, and they are more likely to look for a job that they believe will be better for them. So, what are the signs of Quiet Quitting? And, how do leaders fend off this trend? 

Signs of Quiet Quitting

Three basic signs of Quiet Quitting: withdrawl, apathy and negativity. The first sign is an employee being withdrawn. Individuals who are quitting quietly are likely to show an undesired change in behavior in the way they interact with others. They may go from being participatory in team meetings, or with their leader and peers, to being withdrawn and not offering their opinions or actively seeking advice.

The second sign is apathy. Employees who are quitting quietly are likely to seem apathetic when it comes to their work. They may do the bare minimum with their projects or show a lack of interest in the outcome. They also may turn in work that is late and/or with errors.

The third sign is negativity. Although this may be the most obvious sign, those quietly quitting are likely presenting a negative attitude to their work, their leaders or their peers. This is especially concerning if it is a change in behavior over time. Basically, they are setting up justification for their impending departure. These signs of Quiet Quitting should alarm leaders, and must be taken seriously. Far too often, leaders ignore these behaviors or have not taken the time to understand those who report to them.

What Leaders Can Do

Leaders can take three basic steps to help fend off individuals who are quiet quitting: relationships, development and awareness.

First, and most importantly, is the leader’s ability to monitor their own relationships with their team members.

Far too often, leaders do not accurately communicate with their team members. Relationships are very important in the current job environment, and it is the responsibility of the leader to remain in strong contact with team members. They must also focus on how to build relationships with their teams. Through strong communication and collaboration, leaders can build team culture. Disgruntled employees are likely to leave.

The second step is development.

Above and beyond relationships, leaders must take the time to map out a successful career vision for their employees. How often do leaders have serious Career Investment Discussions (CIDs) with each of their employees? This is an under-utilized tactic, but is an effective one to help with employee engagement. Importantly, these discussions should be focused on the individual’s desires and needs. This is not about what the leader wants the employee’s vision to be, but instead, what they desire it to be. Leaders ought to have regular career investment discussions with their employees and understand how they can align the company vision with the vision of the employee. 

The third step is awareness.

If leaders are completing steps one and two accurately, they will be acutely aware of this step. However, it is still important for leaders to be aware of the employee’s work and interaction with others. One effective tool for building awareness is “rounding.” Successful rounding is having conversations with team members with no objective in mind. Most leaders say they round, but they are actually just checking on projects and timelines. Leaders who round with their employees are more likely able to understand what is going on with them. If signs of being withdrawal, apathetic or negative emerge, leaders ought to look to how to increase communication and development of that employee.

By understanding these three signs of Quiet Quitting (withdrawal, apathy and negativity) and following these three action steps (relationships, development and awareness). Leaders are likely going to see increased engagement and satisfaction with their individual employees and see a decrease in what the press is referring to today as Quiet Quitting.

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Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D. is the Director of Leadership Analytics at Talent Plus where his role is to partner with, listen to and find solutions for our clients, their teams and organization. With an emphasis on strengths, through selection and development, he helps our clients find success on their Talent-Based Journey.

“I focus on the strength management approach to help grow leaders and improve team and organization cultures.” – Scott Whiteford

Talents: Relationship, Ego Drive, Focus, Conceptualization and Intelligence