Quiet Quitting: Why Some Employees Are Doing Less at Work
Workspan Daily
August 23, 2022
Key Takeaways

  • Setting boundaries. Quiet quitting is the concept of doing what is needed to keep your job but not going above and beyond at work. 
  • Disengaged vs. quiet quitting. Employees that are disengaged might actually be slacking off or not giving or trying their best, unlike quiet quitters who are still performing their job duties but only putting in the bare minimum.  
  • Benefits and disadvantages. Although there are personal benefits to quiet quitting and creating a better work-life balance, a main disadvantage is that an employee may not be seen as a top performer. It could take longer to get promoted, and bonuses and raises could be smaller.   

“Working hard or hardly working?” 

It’s a question often asked in jest, but it’s something employers are now seriously considering due to a new term that has taken the global workforce by storm: quiet quitting. From TikTok to the Wall Street Journal, the phrase is generating a lot of lengthy discussions, especially among young professionals.  

What is quiet quitting? 

“Quiet quitting is the concept of doing what is needed to keep your job but not going above and beyond at work,” said Elise Freedman, senior client partner, workforce transformation at Korn Ferry. “Some employers are assuming that means slacking off, but the true definition is not about avoiding work. It is about putting more boundaries in place to ensure a meaningful life outside of work.” 

In its recent “State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report,” Gallup found that, along with dissatisfaction, workers are experiencing staggering rates of both disengagement and unhappiness. Sixty percent of people reported being emotionally detached at work and 19% as being miserable. Only 33% reported feeling engaged. 

But Freedman said there is a difference between employees who are disengaged and those who are quiet quitting.  

“Folks that are disengaged might actually be slacking off or not giving or trying your best. If folks are disengaged, you probably see it in their actions in meetings (not fully participating) or their responsiveness to requests,” she said. “The best way to avoid employees being disengaged is for the manager to ensure regular and meaningful connections with their employees — checking in with them frequently and asking how they can better support them.  

“It is asking how they are feeling and what their longer-term goals are and what they are doing to develop themselves. It is about making sure employees connect to the purpose of the organization and the team and understand how they contribute.” 

From the employee perspective, the risk of quiet quitting is career stagnation, which could further exacerbate disengagement. However, employers should foster an environment that encourages a good work-life balance, Freedman said, so they must be clear about expectations.  

“Employers should be looking at workload and their expectations to ensure folks can do meaningful work without having to burn themselves out or sacrificing an outside life,” she said. “Burnout is a huge problem these days, and organizations need to support their employees so that they are giving their best selves and discretionary energy at work.” 

Freedman said don’t entice workers with pay raise because compensation is not causing quiet quitting. However, employees need to understand if organizations give bonuses based on results/contributions. And, managers need to communicate that those who produce better results will receive better bonuses. Therefore, if folks are only doing the bare minimum that could affect rewards.  

“I think the best way to increase an employee’s contribution is to give them interesting work and opportunities to develop and grow,” she said. “If they have this, then they are less likely to be quiet quitting and more willing to invest themselves because they see the value for themselves too.” 

Editor’s Note: Additional Content
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