Quiet quitting speaks volumes about your leadership. Here is how to identify and prevent it.

‘Quiet quitting’ is more than a buzzword. In a post-pandemic workforce that puts employees in the driver’s seat, workers are quietly quitting at an alarming rate. Can you tell if yours are? And more importantly, do you know how to support them well enough to prevent them from putting the brakes on their productivity or engagement?

From TikTok to the boardroom, quiet quitting is a much-talked-about trend. Although quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon, it remains a hot-button topic for 2023. Leaders everywhere must be poised and prepared to address this workforce trend. Here is how you can start the year on a strong note.

Quiet quitting in 2023

The subject of quiet quitting is usually either focused on the employee experience or leaders trying to stop it. Here, I look at both sides to help leaders understand why employees quit quietly. Once you know what prompts quiet quitting, you can equip yourself to be a changemaker before anyone feels the need to disengage.

By identifying signs of quiet quitting and learning ways to prevent it, you can save your workforce, organization, and reputation.

In this article, I first discuss signs of quiet quitting to help you identify them. Then, I provide actionable tips to prevent anyone you manage from quietly quitting. 

Let’s get started.

What is quiet quitting?

Whether your employees are suffering in silence or have quietly quit in an obvious way, there are effective steps a leader can take to prevent, and help.

It’s the psychological equivalent of an Out Of Office reply.

Firstly, what exactly is quiet quitting, anyway? By definition, quiet quitting is where employees underperform or do the minimum work requirements instead of officially resigning. A decline in attitude and commitment accompanies this behaviour. 

Quietly quitting is about the employee experience. Therefore, managers, directors and executive leaders are responsible for knowing the warning signs and helping their workforce (and bottom line).

Why are employees quietly quitting?

In this post-pandemic work era, employees had a taste of more autonomy and independence in their jobs. They enjoyed greater flexibility with remote work, and discovered how health and wellness were essential for productivity and happiness. But they also suffered isolation from the fragmented workplace on top of the anxieties and uncertain job security the pandemic brought about.

How leaders can identify and prevent quiet quitting in 2023

Whether you have just entered a leadership role or are a seasoned pro, the last few years presented challenges for which no business courses or organizational manual prepared us. Helping navigate a new world of working and managing people is why I became a leadership coach

Today’s leaders face unprecedented challenges. It is harder than ever to manage a workforce. People are rightly dissatisfied with the old way of working brought on by our post-pandemic work models. However, lacking a clear sense of direction can cause confusion and broken communication. Low morale is directly correlated to high turnover.

Many employees in 2023 will not necessarily leave their jobs. Instead, their productivity and engagement will plummet due to quiet quitting.

5 signs your employees are quietly quitting

For those who quietly quit, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Do you know the warning signs of a quietly quitting employee?

To be an effective leader in the 21st century, it helps to know about the employee experience.

Here are the top 5 signs to look for when it comes to employees quietly quitting:

1. Once highly engaged employees are less productive

Along with decreased output  or substandard work, a decline in productivity that is a red flag can also include:
a) once engaged employees now leaving the office/ logging off early,
b) not participating in work events
c) removing themselves from ERGs (employee resource group) they were part of before.

2.  Bad vibes/ negativity

A bad attitude is a sign of quiet quitting, especially when it comes from a once agreeable employee. Negativity can spread by an unhappy employee to colleagues quickly if this toxic trait is not addressed promptly.

3.  Poor performance / no pride of ownership

Good leaders should do regularly scheduled performance reviews for several reasons, including communicating expectations, nipping problems in the bud, nurturing rapport and maintaining a record of employee engagement. If you see performance reviews continuing to dwindle, they might indicate that quiet quitting is the cause.

4.  Decreased or withdrawn communication

A marked change in behaviour may not be as overt as hearing the employee speak negatively about the company or peers. Sometimes they might withdraw and become more reserved and closed off. Other behaviours like not answering calls or emails in a timely manner, ignoring clients and not performing expected tasks are also glaring warning signs.

5. Colleague or stakeholder complaints

If you are receiving negative feedback from others about a particular employee, that signals concern as most of us do not wish to complain about a colleague unless the situation is dire. Address feedback by asking questions to dig deeper to see if there is a shared element or root cause.

How leaders can help prevent quiet quitting

Quiet quitting — do you know the signs?

After reviewing the above,  you have determined they are likely quiet quitting, but now what actionable steps can you take?

Here are some suggestions on what you as a leader can do to help prevent employees from quiet quitting — and better, help their holistic wellbeing.

1. Workload

If the employee is not delivering like they once did, performing the bare minimum or less, first look at the workload and ask yourself perhaps it is unmanageable in the first place. Directly ask the employee if the workload is too much and offer to cut it down if this is the case.

2. Recognition

Studies show employees say regular recognition from their manager is as valuable. Make sure you provide positive feedback for a job well done. I get it, if someone is not performing to the best oft heir ability, recognize their old accomplishments and ask how you and the company can help them get back to their A-game.

3. Be available and approachable.

As leaders can get pulled away by demands from the top, it can be difficult to find time to have regular check-ins with those you manage, and I don’t mean formal performance reviews. Just informal one-on-ones to ask how they are doing goes a long way in making the employee feel valued. Communicate your availability and that they can book time with you to chat by accessing your calendar. Reminding your people you are still connected to them and care is vital in preventing quiet quitting.

4. Actively listen

Of course being available is not much good if you are not attentive and engaged during your one-one-ones. Focus on the employee and demonstrate active listening. It may seem sterile but if you have a lot on your mind, write down a few notes about what the employee shares with you on a personal level so you can revisit them and remember to ask follow-up questions at your next meeting, for example how a professional exam went or how their kid’s soccer tournament went.

5. Support wellbeing

A silver lining of the pandemic is a greater emphasis on employee physical and mental health. Ensure your employees can maintain a work/life balance and support them where you can.

To summarize, leaders are responsible for identifying and preventing quiet quitting before it really damages your workplace ecosystem.
Don’t ignore behaviour changes, and act swiftly in addressing your concerns and the concerns of others when it comes to this employee. There are many benefits of leadership coaching if you feel your team, or yourself as a leader, require that assistance.

If you feel you could use support on fostering a healthy and engaged workforce, consider leadership coaching. Contact me at info@chris-march.ca


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