Quiet Quitting at Work – How Can You Identify It and What Can You Do About It?

You will have most likely seen the repeated use of the term “quiet quitting” in the press in recent months. In this blog post we’ll look more at the concept of quiet quitting at work and explore how you can identify if it’s happening, what you can do if it is and what you can do to avoid it.

Published Categorised as HR Best Practice, Managing People Tagged
Quiet Quitting at Work - Lighter HR
Quiet Quitting at Work - Lighter HR

You will have most likely seen the repeated use of the term “quiet quitting” in the press in recent months. The premise of quiet quitting at work is that, as people now work from home more often, it’s easy for them to slowly disengage from their work. People can start to do the absolute bare minimum and it go unnoticed.

In this blog post we’ll look more at the concept of quiet quitting at work. We’ll explore how you can identify if it’s happening, what you can do it and how to avoid it.

1. How do I know if someone is quietly quitting at work?

The signs of quiet quitting at work will be a slow withdrawal from engaging with you. You’ll also see an overall decrease in performance. 

You will see an increase in the amount of time that it takes for someone to respond to emails, return chat messages and phone calls. They will potentially become less communicative when on calls/video meetings.  You could see a decrease in their output. 

It’s likely that none of these things alone would be sufficient to attract attention. However, when you consider how a person used to perform and engage and how they are performing and engaging now, you will see a deterioration.

Whilst the term “quiet quitting” is new, the concept is not!  This is something that has gone on for years.  Someone becomes bored at work. They feel they are not being appropriately rewarded. They become dissatisfied with some element of their work environment and they start to be less engaged and productive.  The only differences are that it was more visible when people were in a physical work location. People needed to be more creative in finding ways to look busy!

Now that vast numbers of people can spend at least some of their time working at home, it’s far easier to disengage and for it to go unnoticed.

In answer to the question “how do I know if someone is quietly quitting at work?” the answer really is to ensure that you remain aware of deterioration in performance and response times.  If you see these things happening, then it’s worth starting conversations to see what is going on. 

It’s equally important that you don’t jump to the conclusion that what you are seeing is quiet quitting at work. It’s possible, if not probable, that there is an alternate explanation.

2. What should you do if you suspect quiet quitting at work?

Ultimately, what quiet quitting is describing is a disengaged employee.  You have someone who used to be motivated by their role and they no longer are. 

The starting point is to have a conversation with them, without making accusations, to see what is going on. 

You should be having regular one-to-one meetings with your team. Use the next meeting to explain that you have seen a dip in performance and you’re keen to understand the reasons behind it.  By opening the conversation, you give the employee an opportunity to explain why they are less engaged in their role.

It could be that the employee is not less engaged but is putting in place some boundaries. 

Over the Covid period, it became very easy to work longer than normal hours. The time saved in the commute was added to the working day.  Perhaps the employee is simply trying to move to a more sustainable work/life balance. You need to be willing to listen if the employee raises the fact that they feel there are unrealistic expectations around how quickly tasks will be completed or the number of hours they are expected to work.

There are many reasons as to why someone may disengage from their role. Once you know what the reason is, you can try to find a solution.

3. How can you avoid employees quiet quitting at work?

As we’ve said, quiet quitting at work is a sign of disengagement. The way to avoid it is to work on your overall approach to employee engagement. 

With remote workers, you need to ensure that there is regular communication. You need to ensure that individuals don’t begin to feel disconnected from the organisation.  

A key part of why employees stick with an employer is that they feel connected to the company through the relationships they build with their colleagues.  With an entirely remote work force it can be very difficult to build those relationships. This leads to there being less of an emotional connection to the company.  This makes it far easier to leave if another opportunity comes along that pays more or offers better benefits.

You should consider the things that your company has always done to ensure that employees are engaged (reward, regular feedback, company meetings, company social events etc.). Then consider if these things need to change to reflect the requirements of a remote work force.

In addition, you could consider conducting an employee engagement surveyAn engagement survey will give you real insight into what your employees are feeling and what they value (rather than what you imagine or want them to).  You can then use this information to make sure that you are doing the things that make the most difference to your employees.

4. Can quiet quitting at work be a disciplinary offence?

There’s a big difference between a dip in performance that requires action and someone blatantly lying about the work they are doing and the hours they are working. 

You should have a robust home working policy in place that sets out the requirements around being available during normal working hours, the process to follow if someone is attending an appointment during the day etc.  It’s important that employees understand the company expectations when it comes to home working.

If you feel that someone is not meeting the company requirements your first action is still a conversation with the individual.  Then, If it comes to light that they have not been working their contractual hours, there is potentially a disciplinary case but you should seek advice before taking action.

If you require any help in managing issues raised in this blog post, then please contact us through the form or give us a call on 0203 319 1649 and one of our team will be happy to chat the situation through with you.

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