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Start the conversation about quiet quitting

Why the quiet quitting narrative is an opportunity to reexamine your employees' engagement.

Quiet quitting refers to employees deciding to stop going above and beyond at work and instead simply fulfill their duties. They don’t quit their jobs; they just quit being married to their work.

The phrase originated on TikTok in 2022, adapted from a Chinese phrase that translates as “lying flat,” which described a movement among young Chinese workers to resist long work hours.

But, as a commentator in The Atlantic observed, this attitude toward work has existed among many for decades.

The same article argues that recent surveys don’t make a convincing case that worker disengagement is any higher than it has been in the past. So, should you brush off all the chatter? Or should you install technology to track your employees’ productivity? Below we share advice that applies no matter what labor’s prevailing attitude.

Is there a problem here?

Even if quiet quitting is an actual phenomenon, that doesn’t mean it’s taking place at your workplace. And even if it’s occurring at your workplace, does it matter? If some percentage of your employees are fulfilling their duties, doesn’t that still mean your business is running as needed?

Is your goal to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of your employees or to achieve your business objectives? If you’ve set the right minimal standards of employee performance – including courteous and prompt communication with colleagues and outsiders – your business should be fine.

And if your business can only succeed if most of your employees are regularly risking burnout, perhaps you need to reevaluate your business model.

Measuring employee engagement

How can you tell whether your employees are tapped out or have checked out? Companies like Energage offer research-based engagement surveys that help you measure your culture.

The bare minimum can go both ways

Now is a good time to reflect upon what you’re offering to your employees and how that might contribute to their motivation levels. Just as employees can do the bare minimum to keep their jobs, employers may also fall prey to providing minimal effort in creating a positive job experience.

For example, offering two weeks’ vacation to new employees is the bare minimum at many jobs. If you’re average in this area, how might that be affecting your employees’ view of their jobs?

Other factors you should consider include whether you allow for remote work, what employee engagement activities you offer, how you recognize employees, and how you help your employees see their work as meaningful.

Next steps

  • Consider an employee engagement survey service to take the pulse of your workforce.
  • Examine the remote work question from all angles, including the value of in-office experiences as well as evidence that members of certain groups may favor remote work. Let evidence guide your decision.
  • Explore ways to build a sense of community and meaning at your business.