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Do companies really care about quiet quitting?

Man looking fed up at his desk

Over the past year, all you see, hear, and read about are articles and posts around the new phenomena in HR: quiet quitting. News headlines around quiet quitting, content created, and articles written, all screaming about this new employee engagement epidemic. But is quiet quitting all it’s hyped up to be?

And as much as we portray that we care at face value – do we really? Is it really keeping us up at night?

What is quiet quitting?

Despite the name, quiet quitting has actually nothing to do with employees quitting their jobs. Instead, it’s referring to those who are still employed, but who have emotionally checked out. They’re putting in the bare minimum, not going above and beyond, and generally just coasting through their workday.

This might not sound like such a big deal – after all, plenty of employees coast through their days without putting in any real effort. But one slacking employee isn’t really the problem (yet). It’s when the entire team or organisation starts doing this – that’s when it can have major business implications.

So, what’s driving this trend?

The trend that seems to have flooded TikTok, appears to be an evolution of China’s ‘lying flat’ movement, which sees younger generations of workers (predominantly Gen Z) prioritizing well-being over high-pressure jobs that require working 50-60 hours a week. And the pandemic has only amplified this trend, as employees around the world grapple with increased levels of stress and burnout.

And with Gallup’s global workplace report for 2022 showing that only 9% of UK workers are engaged in their jobs, Associate Professor in organisational behaviour, Maria Kordowicz, also highlights that this silent rebellion could be a result of decreased job satisfaction.

But do companies really care?

I’m going to be a bit controversial here and say no, they don’t. Not that they don’t care that their employees jumping off the bus – they don’t care about the term ‘quiet quitting’.

Why? Because this phenomena has been around for years – it’s just named something else: employee disengagement. And companies have been dealing with disengaged employees since the dawn of time – quiet quitting is just an updated version of that.

Not only that, as we established earlier, quiet quitting isn’t all that bad. Employees aren’t skiving off work. They are just doing what is in the job description, clocking off at 5 pm, and not answering emails beyond working hours. They are still doing their jobs worth – they are just letting go of the hustle culture, and simply doing the work stated in their job description.

And let’s face it, business owners have much more worries to be concerned about, such as the great resignation, skills gap, and staying afloat amidst soaring inflation rates.

So sure, it sounds nice to say “we care about quiet quitting” and that we recognize the importance of employee retention in keeping morale up. But when it comes down to it, quiet quitting is unfortunately not at the top of our list of priorities.

A lens on employee engagement

Don’t get me wrong, quiet quitting is an issue that needs to be addressed. It offers us a valuable lens to look at employee engagement and could be a good indication that something is lacking in the organisation’s culture, or even HR practices.

It’s up to us as business owners and HR professionals to take this lens seriously and start looking into why our employees are emotionally checking out. After all, for organisations to see long-term growth and profit, it has been predicted that they need to maintain employee engagement of up to 70%.

Now, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, as each organisation is different. However, there are some general steps that you can take to start improving employee engagement.

Conduct regular engagement surveys

One way to get a sense of how your employees are feeling is to conduct regular employee engagement surveys. This might be quarterly, or even monthly – it all depends on your preferences and budget.

They will give you a snapshot of how your employees feel about their work and whether or not they’re engaged. For instance, if you notice that engagement levels are dropping, it may be an indication that employees are feeling disillusioned with their work. And if this is the case, you can then investigate why and see what can be done to improve things.

Look at exit interviews

Exit interviews can give you some insights into why people are leaving and what could be done to improve retention. You may find that some of the reasons for leaving are due to factors that are out of your control. However, you may also find that some common themes are emerging, such as a lack of development opportunities or a poor work/life balance.

If this is the case, you can then look at ways to address these issues. For example, if employees are leaving because they’re not being given enough development opportunities, you can look at ways to provide more training and development programmes.

Whatever the case may be, exit interviews can be a valuable tool for understanding the reasons behind your employees doing the bare minimum, and can help you take steps to address them.

Re-evaluate your performance reviews

Performance reviews are ”traditionally” conducted on a quarterly basis. But with the ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon on the rise, it’s now becoming more important than ever to conduct them more frequently. After all, if you wait too long to give feedback, it may be too late.

Consider moving to a monthly or bi-monthly performance review system. This way, you can keep a close eye on employees and identify any issues early on.

Analyse all your people data

One of the most underutilized and most important pieces of information that we have is our HR data. HR data can give you a wealth of insights into your workforce – including who may be at risk of disengagement (aka ‘quiet quitting’).

So, make sure you’re analysing all your HR data on a regular basis. This way, you can identify any trends and take action accordingly. For example, if you notice that there are employees who haven’t developed in their role in the past two years, you may want to investigate why this is the case, and take steps to address it.

The bottom line

While companies may be brushing this new phenomenon of quiet quitting under the rug, it may be a sign of something deeper, and organisations need to take that seriously. After all, employee engagement is key to the success of any organisation, and quiet quitting should be seen as an early warning sign for possible disengagement.

By conducting regular surveys and reviews, analysing your people data regularly, and addressing issues promptly, you can help ensure that your employees are engaged and not quietly slipping away.

So, don’t be fooled by quiet quitting – it may seem harmless on the surface, but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. Pay attention to the warning signs, and you’ll be able to tackle employee disengagement head-on.

And if you need help getting started, why not get in touch with us here at Signature HR? We can help you identify the underlying issues that are causing quiet quitting and put together a plan to address them.
Contact us today to find out more!