Here's How Leaders Should Address Quiet Quitting

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First it was the “Great Resignation,” now it’s “Quiet Quitting.” Leaders across the globe are scrambling to figure out how to not only retain employees, but also how they can fully engage them at work.

Quiet quitting has been happening for years. But, it really started trending after 24-year-old engineer Zaid Khan posted a TikTok video explaining the new work behavior.

Khan described it as “still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.”

In other words, employees are doing the bare minimum and detaching themselves from their jobs.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a historical decrease in labor productivity across the nation. And, a Gallup survey found that quiet quitters make up at least half of the U.S. workforce.

Leaders and managers play an essential role in preventing this type of mindset amongst their employees.

How should leaders address this trend?

First: Connect employee roles to the mission. Employees need to understand how their role fits into the overall goal of the organization. Why is their job critical to what your company is trying to achieve?

Gallup found that one reason for quiet quitting is due to employees not seeing how their role fits into their organization’s mission or vision. Thus, they are disengaging from work.

Your organization’s mission and vision should be clearly defined, accessible and implemented at every level.

Carve out time to meet with each person on your team and give them specific examples of how what they are doing is adding value to the mission of your organization. This will help your employees to discover meaning and purpose in their work.

Employees are more likely to stay at companies when they feel they are doing meaningful work, according to a study conducted by Paychex.

Second: Value your employees. For many, quiet quitting comes down to feeling undervalued or underappreciated by management. Employees want to feel essential to what an organization is trying to accomplish, and when they don’t, it’s easy for them to disengage.

It’s critical that leaders let their employees know they are appreciated. To do so, leaders must take the time to learn about the people they lead, so they can best empower them in their roles.

Leaders show that they value their employees by recognizing their accomplishments, seeking their input, prioritizing a healthy work-life balance, and caring for them as individuals.

Make a point to celebrate milestones, thank them for their work and reward their results. When you show appreciation, make it personal and specific.

Leaders often get credit for the accomplishments of their teams. This is why it’s important that you acknowledge the contributions of people on your team.

Third: Provide clear expectations. It’s hard for employees to see a path forward if they don’t know where they are going. A lack of clarity can lead to a disconnect between a manager and an employee.

Regular one-on-one meetings between a manager and employee will help minimize any uncertainties and can provide moments for you to encourage and motivate employees.

A habit successful managers develop is having a meaningful conversation once a week with each team member, even if it is only 15 to 30 minutes long, according to Gallup.

By meeting with employees, leaders can determine manageable deadlines for their team members.

Make sure that your employees know what is expected of them by providing guidelines and hold them accountable. Review any standards and values that your company abides by.

Fourth: Offer advancement opportunities. No one wants to feel stagnant in their job. Leaders play an important role in helping employees grow in their professional career.

A top reason that people quit their job is due to a lack of opportunities for advancement, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

When you support your team’s career growth, you show them you care about their professional development and want to see them succeed.

Talk to your employees about their personal career goals. Support them through encouraging professional development courses and participating in workshops. Offer mentorship opportunities at work where people can learn from others.

Fifth: Change the approach to work. The culture of an organization can make or break the productivity level of its employees. If an employee feels stressed or has negative feelings associated with going to work, they will just put in the bare minimum.

Yet, leaders and managers expect their employees to perform with excellence in order for their companies to succeed. One underlying factor for an employee feeling negative toward their organization can stem from feeling burned out.

There’s been an increase in burnout rates across the nation, according to APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey. And, nearly three in five employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress.

Leaders have the power to change the culture in which their employees work and how they view the work they are doing. Burnout is often the result of employees taking on more than they can handle.

Employees may feel threatened or anxious if they don’t accomplish everything put on their plate. Leaders have to recognize that some of their employees may find their self worth in their careers and are willing to sacrifice their mental health in order to succeed.

Listening is key for leaders to understand how much each employee can handle and in order to implement positive changes.

Quiet quitting can be detrimental to an organization. Less engaged employees will ultimately lead to a decrease in productivity.

It’s imperative that leaders employ relational and emotional intelligence when working with their team members. When employees feel valued, have opportunities for growth and connect with the mission, they are more likely to thrive and perform their roles with excellence.

Leaders can be at the forefront of preventing quiet quitters—it starts with the culture they set.

Dr. Kent Ingle

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