Are your staff quiet quitting? Here’s how to tell, and what you should do


Source: Unsplash/Laura Davidson.

If your staff are prone to mood changes, putting up their hands for less projects, vocally frustrated, noticeably withdrawn, or taking more sick leave, they could be quiet quitting.

It’s an antidotal movement gaining traction in workplaces as hoards of employees experience burnout — whether it be from filling the gaps of the labour shortages, pandemic exhaustion, dissatisfaction with the work, or from feeling as if they have stalled in their career with no progression in sight.

“You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” TikTokker @zkchillin explained.

“You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life — the reality is, it’s not.”

So what should leaders watch out for, and what can they do when they spot the signs of a quiet quitter? Two experts weigh in.

Why are Australians quiet quitting their jobs?

Just look at the modern workplace, Employment Hero people and culture manager Lauren Berry says. Technology has made work easier, but it has also seen work encroach into our personal lives.

Then the pandemic hit, and working-from-home mandates saw the crossover between an employee’s work and personal lives became a full combination.

“This idea of quiet quitting could be considered a subset of the Great Resignation as this concept speaks to that ongoing trend that has come out of COVID,” Berry said.

“Individuals are re-evaluating their priorities and their work is front and centre of that re-evaluation for the first time in many years.”

Could leaders be contributing to quiet quitting?

When pondering the concept of quiet quitting, leaders should ask themselves one thing: Have I taken the time to get to know my team?

“It’s important for managers to really know their people so that any change in behaviour is easily picked up,” Third Space People founder and leadership coach Hareta McMullin said.

“These changes in behaviour are clues for managers to uncover the real issues their people are facing.”

If a business is seeing an increasing number of resignations, it’s a telltale sign that something is not quite right, she continues.

“The societal shifts we’re seeing with the Great Resignation/Reshuffle are indicators that employers need to have a good, hard look at their employee experience and how that is impacting their culture, and in turn their business performance.”

After all, Berry adds, “If you have a rise in turnover, there is only one common denominator!”

What can leaders do to better support staff?

If they detect a change in an employee that doesn’t right itself after a prolonged period of time  — after all, a dip in performance may just be the temporary result of a tricky roommate or a squabble with a partner — it’s time to have a chat.

“Have a curious, open conversation that you approach with good intentions,” McMullin advised.

“Once you understand the challenges an employee is facing, you can work together to intentionally design their work.”

Designing a staff member’s work to fit their needs has never been more important as Australia experiences a record labour and skills shortage in the post-pandemic era.

“Many things have changed, and there is a greater desire for flexibility, putting more boundaries between work and life, and shifting the mindset from living to work to working to live,” Berry added.

“Putting boundaries around work in place is essential to help prevent burnout in our people.”

That can look like enforcing a strict finish time for staff, rolling out policy that bans after-hours emails, and insisting staff take their lunch breaks in full.

Will this mean the quality of work will decline?

Quite the opposite, Berry continues.

“We know that our people are more productive when they are well rested and have the opportunity to take a break and recharge doing the things they love — so having conversations about how we work and how our people work, where we can promote that work-life balance helps productivity,” she said.

Plus, McMullin adds, creating an environment where all staff feel comfortable, supported and able to work within their means is an important step forward for the labour market which has, for several decades, championed “hustle culture”.

“The power dynamic between employer and employee has been out of balance for so long,” she said.

“After the realities of the past few years, the labour market is course correcting and coming back into alignment.

“Employees have realised that giving all of yourself to your job is no longer acceptable.”


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Sue Ellson
Sue Ellson
6 days ago

The concept of quiet quitting – or doing just enough to keep your job, is not really new. I am sure most people can remember working with people who contribute about 70% of the time and spend the rest of the time keeping up appearances to ensure that decision-makers know what they have been doing and so that they can be first in line for a promotion or an increase in pay.

The Great Reset of the last three years has provided many people with the opportunity to reflect on what brings meaning to their life. Many have discovered that work does not need to be such a big piece of the lifestyle pie. People have had the opportunity to experiment with new ways of working, increasing their use of technology and having more flexibility around their days and hours of work.

At the same time, some technology has been able to track and measure what is done each day by each person and reduce the amount of time ‘chatting at the water cooler.’ A lot of people, once given the freedom to work from home, have been able to get eight hours work done in a lot less and have enjoyed their extra leisure time.

Personally, when I was going through a challenging period, I was amazed to see that I
could keep my own enterprises in maintenance mode for just two hours a day instead of eight or more. It was a fabulous wake-up call.

Technology has also enabled remote workers to be more aware of what each person in the team is contributing, so I suspect there are some people who have had to increase their productivity or leave and they can’t hide their lack of productivity in those water cooler conversations any more.

Likewise, once challenged with the ‘usual’ way of working, others have realised that for the same total effort and energy, they could set up their own side hustle and transition to their own enterprise that is more of a values and lifestyle match.

I can imagine some employers would be happy to see happier workers who are less stressed and focused on the tasks that must be done rather than the tasks that are ‘nice to do.’ The irony is that by reducing the overall load, you may be able to focus on what is really important and not get to the burnout stage.

Whilst some people may have avoiding talking to one another in the office, an online meeting with the camera off can ensure issues are resolved in minutes rather than an email exchange that continues throughout the day.

I can see that quiet quitting is a prompt to increase your personal productivity across your entire day. What is important to do? When does it need to be done by? If I ‘eat the frog’ first, then I can move on to my other priorities.

Frans Sterk
Frans Sterk
5 days ago

There is a need for most managements to have a good hard look at themselves as well, they never seem to see themselves as the problem.
However in many cases they are the problem with poor leadership and people skills.

1 day ago

The world is completely fucked

alan zamp
alan zamp
1 day ago

wow….”“Once you understand the challenges an employee is facing, you can work together to intentionally design their work.”…….maybe the next areticle can be about the challanges of employers trying to makie a living while providing a living for others ??

“Employees have realised that giving all of yourself to your job is no longer acceptable.”

…………“Employors have realised that giving all of yourself to to get your emplyee to do the work they are employed to do is no longer acceptable.”…….did i miss a subheading somewhere that said ‘warning! woke meanderings”?

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