Quiet quitting: the telltale signs

Temps de lecture : 5 mn
Emmanuelle Abensur
Emmanuelle Abensur
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Temps de lecture : 5 minutes

For some time now, you’ve been noticing that one of your colleagues is only doing the bare minimum at work, and is becoming increasingly disengaged. This phenomenon is known as quiet quitting. On average, it affects 6 out of 10 employees worldwide, according to Gallup’s 2023 report

Quiet quitting is estimated to cost the global economy an average of $8.8 trillion, or around 9% of global GDP. Quiet quitting also means increased turnover, higher recruitment costs, a deterioration in the social climate, and lower company performance. The consequences can be disastrous in the long term!

How can we explain this phenomenon? What are the warning signs of quiet quitting? And how can we re-motivate the employees concerned? Here’s our advice for HR directors and managers who want to effectively contain the quiet quitting phenomenon. 

What’s up with all this quiet quitting, anyway?

After the Big Quit, enter the Quiet Quit. Less noticeable than the first, the trend has nevertheless gained more ground in many companies. Here’s why.

A changing relationship with work

Since the advent of COVID-19, many employees have been questioning their relationship with work. With hindsight, some came to realize that their work lacked meaning, offered them few prospects for development, brought too much stress, or (more generally) just didn’t provide them with access to the quality of work life they wanted.

If their work no longer met their expectations, they didn’t think twice about pursuing happiness elsewhere. And so, the Great Resignation movement was born. This wave of mass departures has been particularly marked in the United States, where nearly 100 million employees left employers between 2021 and 2022.

It was during this great trend that the phenomenon of quiet quitting seemed to become common. This sort of resignation doesn’t consist in actually leaving one’s job, but rather in meeting your basic job requirements—that is, the bare minimum and nothing more. Quiet quitting rejects the hustle culture, which dictates the need to “give 110%” at work to progress.

Disengagement at work (the byproduct of displeasure)

Quiet quitters’ disengagement usually doesn’t happen without reason. For some, it may come from boredom at work (boreout), stemming from tasks that are too repetitive or boring. For others, on the contrary, it may be linked to over-investment in the job, leading to burnout.

More generally, quiet quitting is often explained by a feeling of unease at work, which can have various causes: 

  • an excessively intense workload and/or work pace
  • a lack of alignment with corporate values and culture
  • a lack of recognition at work
  • a salary that is uncompetitive
  • poor working conditions
  • internal conflicts
  • unresponsive, even toxic management

Several studies strongly suggest that the mental health of employees has steadily eroded in recent years. In 2023, one in three American employees reported that their work had had a negative impact on their mental health in the last six months. To improve their well-being at work, many employees decide to stop putting their heart and soul into their jobs.

Also read: [Expert Opinion]: the Psychosocial Risks of Remote Work

A favorable job market 

As you’ve probably noticed, job supply is currently exceeding jobseekers’ demand in many sectors. Worldwide, 53% of employees say it’s a good time to find a job.¹ This favorable job market benefits both jobseekers and existing employees seeking a change. 

According to Gartner, the favorable job market partly explain the quiet quitting phenomenon
Map of the global employment climate (source: Gallup)

The more opportunities employees have access to (and the more attractive they are than their current job), the more they’ll think about changing companies. No surprise, then, that more than 50% of employees worldwide have been looking for a new job this year.¹ The figure’s even higher among the disengaged: 61% desire a job change, compared with just 43% of their more engaged counterparts.

Until they find the job of their dreams, many employees remain in quiet-quitting mode, much to the dismay of their colleagues.

What signs should I look out for?

There are a number of signs that can help HR and managers spot quiet quitters. Here are those to which you should pay special attention:

  • Disengagement at work: 77% of employees worldwide are disengaged¹, meaning they lack enthusiasm about their job and don’t feel a sense of commitment to their company.
  • Lack of initiative: the employee does his or her job, but never suggests new strategies or methods.
  • Limited social interaction: the employee isolates himself from his colleagues, with little or no involvement in company life.
  • Flat-out refusal to work overtime: employees arrive at 9 am and leave at 5 pm on the dot. Don’t bother trying to plead with these workers to put in more than their job descriptions require—even if it’s an emergency.
  • Increased absenteeism: employees are more and more absent and make very few rounds in the office.
  • Refusal to take on new assignments: employees prefer to stick to their job description rather than take on new responsibilities—even if those responsibilities could be beneficial for them and/or the company.
  • Reduced performance and quality of work: employees no longer strive to achieve ambitious goals, and their work becomes… well, just satisfactory.

If you can check off more than one of these boxes for certain employees, then it’s probably a sign they’ve quiet quit. How can you prevent this from happening? Follow our advice below. 👇

What are the best practices for combatting quiet quitting?

To quell quiet quitting, HR and managers alike need to talk to employees on a regular basis. Through such conversations, you’ll be able to identify the problems employees are facing and help them resolve it before they start tuning out.

In addition to active listening, several other strategies can boost your employees’ motivation and engagement:

  • Train managers to deal with employees who quiet quit.
  • Improve employee compensation and benefits.
  • Give more meaning to their work: this means greater responsibilities, more varied missions, and work that has a greater impact on the company.
  • Implement a feedback culture that promotes the sharing of regular feedback at all levels.
  • Acknowledge the value of employees’ work by praising and rewarding them.
  • Identify potentially conflictual situations between employees and step in as needed to resolve them.
  • Evaluate workloads on an ongoing basis, in order to distribute it fairly among team members.
  • Discuss with employees their career prospects and offer them appropriate training to help them achieve their goals.
  • Improve the working environment and conditions by offering more remote work and flexible working hours.
  • Enforce employees’ right to disconnect.
  • Organize occasional events to bring people together. This creates bonds among employees and reinforces their sense of belonging within the company.
  • Set up collaborative tools that enable employees to communicate and collaborate easily with their colleagues. This is precisely what the Talkspirit platform offers.
  • Communicate transparently about roles, responsibilities, and goals. For this, you can count on the Holaspirit platform.

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To conclude

Recognition at work, internal communication, training, the right to disconnect… By pulling the right levers of engagement, it’s possible to prevent quiet quitting from affecting performance and team morale.

Improving employee engagement will also have a number of positive impacts for your organization. First off, it will save you money: according to Gallup, disengaged employees cost companies 18% of their annual salary! Secondly, it will boost your company’s growth: companies with more engaged employees are on average 17% more efficient and 21% more profitable. Last but not least, you’ll reduce costly turnover. 😉

Want to discover other strategies for building loyalty among your employees and avoiding quiet quitters? Download our white paper below 👇

Download the white paper

In this treasure trove, you’ll discover: the origins of the quiet quitting phenomenon, the main causes of disengagement at work, and the buttons to tweak to raise retention of top talent and stave off quiet quitting.

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