Quiet Quitting and Lousy Leadership: 7 Tips to Remedy Them Both

Quiet quitting

Working to live or living to work?

Quiet quitting, or the phenomenon of employees disengaging from their jobs by performing just enough to avoid being fired, is a growing concern for many organizationsand especially leaders. 

Quiet quitting: What’s it all about? 

But what exactly does quiet quitting look like and what’s the motivation behind it? Zaid Khan, a Gen Z engineer, posted a TikTok expressing his take on it as he shared, “I recently learned about this term called quiet quitting, where you’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” Khan says. “You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work must be your life. The reality is it’s not. And your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.” 

And thus, the phenomenon of #quietquitting was born. 

It’s not a flash in the pan either. According to a study by Gallup, quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce in an ever-increasing trend, with the proportion of actively disengaged increasing to 18%. Unfortunately, in this case, the only way is up for the trend. Bad news for leaders. 

Quiet quitting

When did this start? 

The steep drop in workplace engagement can be traced back to the second half of 2021. In the same survey, Gallup attributes this to a combination of unclear expectations of employees, limited opportunities for learning and growth, a lack of feeling cared about, and an absence of connection to organizations’ mission. The sense of waning workplace satisfaction is most notable within the categories of Gen Z and younger millennials, the notoriously tricky demographics to engage, gain, and retain at work. 

Who’s to blame? 

But who’s to blame? Employees expecting too much from their jobs? Or is quiet quitting the culpa of lousy leadership? 

Business psychologist Nicole Clemens lays blame at the feet of poor leadership as she explains, “These people don’t feel seen enough. Some leadership hasn’t done their job well on the relationship level, hasn’t praised enough, hasn’t acknowledged performance and hardship enough.” 

Quiet quitting

The effects 

The cumulative effect of quiet quitting is that dissatisfied employees redirect their energy and focus from their roles to their free time. 

I hear you ask, dear leaders at the back, “So, what’s the big deal? We’ll just hire new, more engaged staff; isn’t this also the time of mass layoffs and eager prospective new workers?” It’s not quite so simple, as Clemens explains, “We are in the midst of a fundamental cultural change in the world of work. There’s a shortage of skilled workers, crises, and the end of an unrestrained growth economy demands a different kind of relationship.” 

To put it another way, a tidal wave of inner resignation always indicates a broken system: mediocre managers and less-than-stellar leaders. 

What are the solutions?