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You may have increasingly heard the term in the last few month, but what is ‘quiet quitting’?

It is essentially a continuation of the ‘working to rule’ principle, where employees do exactly what they are employed to do and not a thing more – no staying late, no working through lunch, no answering emails out of hours – just what their contract specifies.  If they feel unsatisfied, undervalued or burnt out, they will do the minimum possible to still get paid and not fall foul of the HR department.

Why do employees ‘quiet quit’?

When employees feel that they are not being recognised for their efforts, either missing out on pay rises or promotions, they cut back on the effort they put in and do the bare minimum that is required.  Some may think that they are slacking, but many view it as doing what you are rewarded for, a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. It also isn’t always about the money – if people don’t get the opportunities or support they want from work then they will be quiet quitting as well.

In part, the trend has grown out of the work/life balance that has become more important to people in recent years, but also as a response to ‘hustle culture’, whereby people do everything they can to get ahead even if they are not rewarded for it immediately.  Many people felt badly treated by their employers during COVID-19 and are in no rush to go back to going above and beyond as the norm.

It is also not a trend just restricted to Millennials and Gen Z as some first suggested, and it is being found across all industries and at all levels. It has also been found to be more related to the manager’s ability to engage staff rather than the employee’s willingness to work harder. The more an employee feels undervalued and underappreciated has a direct correlation to their likelihood of quiet quitting.

Why is it bad for business?

If people on your team start to quiet quit, then the drive and enthusiasm your team has will start to drop which will of course have a knock on effect to your business productivity and output. These employees are not doing anything wrong either so you cannot just get rid of them either. Our advice is to nip it in the bud as soon as you can and turn the unhappiness around.