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Quietly Quitting

In the aftermath of the "Great Resignation," employees are now drawing the line.

Key points

  • Last year, seven out of 10 employees reported experiencing burnout.
  • When the inflation rate soared to approximately 9 percent in July of 2022, the average employee raise capped at a mere 3.4 percent.
  • Chronic burnout, poor compensation, increased workload, and diminished appreciation have led employees to reevaluate where their effort is going.
  • Quiet quitting is a way employees reclaim their power and return to a healthier and happier work/life balance.

Quiet quitting is a phrase that has most recently been used to describe employees who have trimmed their daily work tasks to those that are solely part of their job descriptions. No more and no less. There is no more going above and beyond because, well, they no longer care.

Photo by Mizuno K/Pexels
Source: Photo by Mizuno K/Pexels

According to Asana’s 2022 Anatomy of Work Report, seven out of 10 employees reported experiencing burnout last year.

Then, in July of this year, when the inflation rate soared to roughly 9 percent, the average raise hovered at about 3.4 percent (Bremen, 2022).

This overwhelming sense of burnout, combined with the stress of fighting inflation, has led many employees to throw in the towel. On some level, the Quiet Quitter has decided that the previous output of effort is no longer worth it.

They are now going through the motions, showing up exactly on time and leaving the minute the clock ticks done. In a sense, they have become energetically detached from the workplace.

Some of the reasons for quiet quitting are consistently unrealistic expectations, unmanageable workload, poor compensation, not feeling appreciated, workplace politics, and burnout. Some of these employees have dutifully toughed it out while those around them quit in droves following the pandemic, and they can no longer go the distance. They have hit a brick wall.

These reasons have left employees feeling a diminished sense of agency, and quietly quitting has been a way for employees to reclaim their personal power, as well as to bring balance back into their lives.

Two Types of Quiet Quitters

The Passive Quiet Quitter:

These are the coasters. They are generally fed up and are checking boxes simply to acquire the paycheck. This employee may not have a plan to leave just yet, but they are on autopilot doing the bare minimum. They are smiling and nodding, though with minimal engagement or social interaction in the workplace.

The Active Quiet Quitter:

This person has a very conscious awareness of being done at their current job and is going through the motions while they plan their escape. They are acutely aware that they have outgrown their current work environment and are diligently watching for the green lights to point them in a new direction. They are doing so while safely collecting a paycheck as they search for something new.

Signs of quiet quitting might be:

  1. Employees take their PTO (paid time off) in little spurts, meaning one or two days at a time. This would only be true if the company does not pay out for it when an employee eventually leaves. Otherwise, the reverse would be true, as the employee would be hoarding their PTO hours for a paycheck once they resign.
  2. Subtle disengagement with workplace conversation.
  3. Not attending anything extra.
  4. Not volunteering for anything, even if fun.
  5. Taking more breaks throughout the day.
  6. Leaving (more often) for a few hours during the day for “doctor or dentist” appointments.
  7. May start to show up late or leave early.
  8. Showing a diminished sense of interest.
  9. Not asking many questions in general.

What Managers Can Do to Prevent the Quiet Quit

Photo by Steve Johnson/Pexels
Source: Photo by Steve Johnson/Pexels

The most effective way to prevent employees from becoming energetically detached is to stay on top of what’s happening with their work experience and constantly strive to improve this.

  1. Listen to understand first, then fix. There isn’t a human being on this planet who doesn’t have a need to be heard and validated. Emotional validation is central to the human experience. When the work conversations are solely about numbers, reaching quotas, and any other details related to workplace performance, the real people getting it all done often feel invisible. Mix up the dry meetings with some more genuine conversation to create balance.
  2. When in doubt, ask. Get feedback from your employees in a way that feels safe, such as an anonymous survey. Individual one-on-ones are ideal when you create an environment that truly feels safe for personal disclosure.
  3. Cultivate emotional safety. Leaders are essential in creating an emotionally safe environment in the workplace. In a very broad sense, there are two ways to lead, either with fear or with respect. Though both will work, one leads to much higher levels of happiness, job satisfaction, creativity, productivity, and longevity.
  4. Be aware that workplace politics are often the silent killer. Workplace politics are everywhere, and it is important for those in leadership positions to be aware of the dynamics and power differentials going on. Realize that employees may not feel free to speak honestly if they are fearful of the political undercurrent.
  5. Make employee mental health a priority. For real, though. If employees are encouraged to “call in well” on occasion to practice self-care, but the undercurrent is giving the message that doing so will affect their stature at work, this will obviously backfire. Keep it real.
  6. Leadership is not one-size-fits-all. As they say, we are all snowflakes, unique and different people. No two of us are alike. Managerial interaction should therefore be sensitive to age, cognitive wiring, personality, personal circumstances, and any other unique differences that may be present.
  7. Lunch. One very small way to show appreciation to employees is to feed them. Arrange for a lunch once each month that has no agenda whatsoever. No stats update. No policy information. Nothing about work. The first agency I worked for did this; I have never forgotten it. We were put into teams when we started, and each team would take a turn to select the caterer for the monthly luncheon. We sat down, broke bread together, and talked. It was rejuvenating, enjoyable, and something we all looked forward to.
  8. Take your birthday off! This is a small gesture that goes very far. Give your employees their birthday off. Should this land on a weekend, then give them the Friday or Monday. Make this a mandatory practice.

As it has been said, “Prevention is the best medicine.” It’s also cheaper.


Asana-Anatomy of Work Global Index (2022). Retrieved from:

Bremen, J. (2022). Why salary increases do not keep up with inflation. Forbes. Retrieved from:…

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