January 2023 – Quietly Firing the Quiet Quitters

Last month we wrote about The Great Resignation and the employee engagement challenges that have arisen post-Covid.  But let’s quit discussing that and start quietly talking about quitting…

“Quiet quitting” is a catchy and popular buzz phrase to describe employees who are disengaged from their jobs and who do the least amount of work to get by without quitting outright.  In 2022, Gallup found that at least 50% of the U.S. workforce was quiet quitting, and that 18% were “loud quitters”, disengaged and actively communicating their dissatisfaction.  That leaves 32% to actually get the work done – both their own work and the unfinished work of the other 68%.

Some say that quiet quitting is simply long-overdue boundary-setting and actually represents a failure of management.  Others argue that it’s just slacking while collecting a paycheck and dodging a pink slip.  Either way, the issue isn’t trivial as Gallup estimated that disengaged employees cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity.

But leaders and managers can take action to re-engage their employees including:

  1. Provide learning and development opportunities. A McKinsey study showed that one of the top reasons people left their jobs was a lack of career development and advancement.  And a Gallup survey quantified the business results of investing in learning and development, stating that companies that do so “…report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.”
  2. Purpose is motivating. Create a connection between employees’ work and the company’s mission.
  3. Support employees. Help them foster their voice to determine what work is engaging and exciting to them, but also clearly define the core responsibilities of their jobs.

And quiet quitters beware – remember that there’s also something called “quiet firing”, as both Google and Microsoft have recently made clear.