What’s Quiet Quitting, why’s it happening & what can HR do?

What is quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting is trending as a people topic. Some TikTokers have been posting about logging off on time, muting Slack and Microsoft Teams and then talking about the benefits of doing just enough to maintain the job and not going above and beyond. This has gone viral and it’s causing a big stir.

What does Quiet Quitting mean for HR and people teams? Natal Dank explored this topic in a recent video, which you can watch here if it doesn’t appear below.

Why are people Quiet Quitting?

There are several theories surrounding the reasons behind Quiet Quitting.

Work-to-rule by a different name

One view of Quiet Quitting is that it’s not a new concept. The idea of working-to-rule e.g. no overtime work has been around for a long time. It generally reflects a high level of disengagement among employees. Reasons behind this can include a lack of scope for career progression, low pay or bad management.

What employees are basically saying is “Right, that’s it, I’m not putting my heart and soul into this job anymore and I’m going to take some time to find a new one” and then proceed to quietly quit while doing just that.

The best option (for the employee)

Another opinion is that Quiet Quitting is done by people who are stuck in a job that they don’t like but who don’t really have too many other options. Perhaps they’re tied to the mortgage and they need the money, so instead of quitting, they essentially switch off and go slow.

It’s important to put this into the context of the great resignation. Currently, people have a little bit more leverage and they know they’re less likely to get sacked for going slow because there are staff shortages and talent wars going on. This means you can effectively quietly quit but keep the job.

A reevaluation of social norms

As pointed out in an article by The Guardian, others think that Quiet Quitting represents a whole reevaluation of social norms and the rejection of hustle culture. Off the back of the pandemic, we’re all feeling pretty burnt out and there’s been a blurring of work and personal life. There’s just no downtime anymore.

An element of the great resignation is people seeking out new careers that are more aligned with their values, be that charity work, fighting climate change or maybe just a job that gives them more creativity and fun. What Quiet Quitting represents is people saying, “Well, you know what? I’m not going to invest as much time and energy into this job that I’m kind of stuck in, instead I’m going to use any spare capacity that I have to really go after an activity that gives me more joy and is more aligned with my values.”

Is Quiet Quitting bad?

Well, yes! If someone is disengaged from their job, something is going wrong. Unfortunately, this is often symptomatic of a negative organisational culture, perhaps resulting in a lack of career progression opportunities or a lack of autonomy and trust in the work environment.

We also need to be mindful that performance naturally varies. People can’t be at the top of their game all the time, and that’s okay. It’s important to take a holistic view of someone’s performance and providing they produce solid good work over time, having a few slower days is perfectly fine. However, if there’s a change in performance, this may indicate something is going on. It could also be something that’s happening in an employee’s personal life or it might reflect a bad relationship with a colleague or a manager. All of this means we need to check in and have a chat.

What can HR and people teams do about Quiet Quitting?

What HR and people teams can do about Quiet Quitting very much depends on the root cause.

Prevent burnout

If Quiet Quitting is the result of burnout, we really need to respect the right of people to log off and recharge. Well-being and caring for the mental health of our people is now a crucial component of the employment contract. There’s also a very digital nature to work these days and tends to make many people feel like they’re always ‘ON’. We need to move beyond presenteeism in the workplace, and help teams set clear boundaries and working agreements about when it’s okay not to be logged in and unavailable.

For example, some companies have introduced ‘recharge’ days, when everyone takes a day off so people don’t feel like they need to check emails or be available for calls, and instead can down tools together as a team.

Another example that companies are trying are ‘deep work’ days. ‘Deep work’ days are where meetings are banned, even for senior leaders, allowing you to just get on with your job.

Psychological safety

A further aspect to consider is that kindness matters. People really want to be appreciated and thanked in the workplace. As research cited in a People Management article on Quiet Quitting confirms, people perform best when they feel psychologically safe. This means they can speak up, disagree and offer feedback to their team, and of course, to management.

Have a purpose-led EVP

A very important aspect is that people are seeking meaning and purpose in their job. A Gartner report showed that following the pandemic, now more than ever, people want organisations to have a purpose-led EVP (Employee Value Proposition).

An EVP defines your organisation above and beyond just the products and services it’s selling. It means employees can align with a series of values beyond just their pay packet. So, have a think. What would a purpose-led EVP look like for your organisation? Could you connect it to a social cause, something like going net-zero or contributing to the wider society and community?

Do ‘stay interviews’ with people who aren’t Quiet Quitting

Lastly, a great tip is to do ‘stay interviews’ with employees who aren’t Quiet Quitting. Discover why they want to stay and work in your organisation. You’re likely to gain a lot of insights into why other people in your organisation aren’t as happy.

What do you think of Quiet Quitting?

Is Quiet Quitting happening in your organisation? If so, what are you trying? And do you have any other tips to share with us? Also, what do you think’s causing this? Is this a reevaluation of social norms that people are talking about? Is it just another way of doing work-to-rule? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Need help with Quiet Quitting in your organisation?

Get in touch with PXO Culture and see how we help you find solutions.

Connect with Natal

This website uses cookies to give you the best possible user experience.
Agree to this by clicking accept.

Cookie settings

Below you can choose which kind of cookies you allow on this website. Click on the "Save cookie settings" button to apply your choice.

FunctionalOur website uses functional cookies. These cookies are necessary to let our website work.

AnalyticalOur website uses analytical cookies to make it possible to analyze our website and optimize for the purpose of a.o. the usability.

Social mediaOur website places social media cookies to show you 3rd party content like YouTube and FaceBook. These cookies may track your personal data.

AdvertisingOur website places advertising cookies to show you 3rd party advertisements based on your interests. These cookies may track your personal data.

OtherOur website places 3rd party cookies from other 3rd party services which aren't Analytical, Social media or Advertising.